FORMER Philippine Open champion Artemio Murakami heads a big field of local players and foreign bets battling it out for 40 slots in this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour as the Qualifying School gets going on Wednesday at Splendido Taal Golf Club.
Murakami, the 2010 Philippine Open champion, PGT leg winner and veteran of the Asian Tour, missed the Top 40 in last year’s Order of Merit due to poor form and finished in 51st place, forcing him to pass through the elimination phase to regain his Tour card.
Johvanie Abaño topped last year’s Q-School but struggled all year-long and ended up in 49th place and will have to go through qualifying again.
Looking to move up to the big league through the 72-hole qualifier conducted by the Philippine Golf Tour are 20 amateur players led by LJ Go, who helped power Cebu Country Club to a first-ever back-to-back championship in last week’s PAL men’s Interclub.
Others in the field are Alabang’s Keanu Janhs, Miggy Yee, AR Ramos, Mark Dy, Brent Sumampong, Kenneth Kano and Micah Shin.
Dutchman Guido Van der Valk, a regular campaigner on the circuit, is also vying for a spot in this year’s pro tour.
After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the top 60, including foreign entries. The top 30 local and 10 best foreign bets after two more rounds will gain cards for the 2013 ICTSI-PGT circuit firing off March 20 with the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic.
This year’s tour will have a record 17-leg schedule, featuring six 72-hole championships, capped by the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship. The regular legs are slated over 54 holes.
The three-leg Mindanao swing features the Rancho Palos Verdes Classic set June 26-28, the Del Monte Championship slated July 3-5 and the Pueblo de Oro Championship set July 10-12.