Murakami Claims Maiden Triumph at Iskandar Johor Open

Sun 26 Aug 2007

Murakami Claims Maiden Triumph at Iskandar Johor Open

Johor Bahru, Malaysia, August 26: Filipino star Artemio Murakami adhered to his mentor?s advice and delivered a maiden triumph at the Iskandar Johor Open on Sunday.

Murakami, who was two shots off the lead going into the final round, listened to the advice given by his mentor Frankie Minoza on the final round as he fired a bogey free three-under-par 68 at the Royal Johor Country Club.

He walked away with the top prize of US$47,550 after a five-under-par 279 total. As a result of his success, Murakami shot up to 41st position on the Asian Tour?s UBS Order of Merit with total earnings of US$63,530 this season.

Scotsman Simon Yates produced his strongest round of 67 and finished a stroke behind the champion alongside Filipino Tony Lascuna who enjoyed his best finish on the Asian Tour after a 70 in tied second place. Chinese Taipei?s Sung Mao-chang, who ended his run with a 69, was pleased with his tied fourth place finish together with India?s Gaurav Ghei who shot a 72.

?I really don?t know what to say, I?m speechless. I would like to dedicate this win to Frankie who has helped me and inspired me to go on. I double bogeyed the final hole on Saturday and I told Frankie over the phone that this was not going to be my week.

?But last night when I called him in Japan, he said that there are 18 more holes to go and I should never give up. He told me that if I gave up, he would not talk to me. That was good advice as I did push hard today,? said the champion, who birdied the second, fourth and eighth holes before a steady pair of hands led him to par the remaining nine holes.

The final round was suspended at 11:30am due to water log on course and resumed play at 11:50am before a second suspension at 12:15pm that resumed at 1:45pm.

Murakami was unfazed by the delays as he enjoyed a two stroke cushion heading into the last two holes. A birdie by Sung on the 17th hole closed the gap but Murakami sealed his win with a three foot par putt at the final 18th hole as Sung faltered with a bogey.

?I was thinking about Sung on the 18th hole but I kept my game and I?m really happy that I did it. My approach shots were great today and were very consistent which was the key to my success,? said the winner.

Murakami, 24, represented the Filipino Amateur team in 1999-2000. He was on the bag for his mentor Minoza full time in Japan in 2003 before playing for the national team in 2004 and 2005. The Manila-based talent had previously produced his first top-10 finish at the Motorola International Bintan in March and was tied 11th at the Philippine Open in February.

With the win, Murakami has gained automatic entry into the  HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November.

Lascuna, who quit as national coach last month, was pleased with his performance in the closing stages that included a birdie on the treacherous 18th hole.

?This is good. Congratulations to Muramaki as he played really steady. I am happy with my round as well because the conditions were tough but I held in there and was quite steady,? said Lascuna.

Scotsman Yates took advantage of the conditions on the final round with three birdies against a lone bogey while Sung endured mixed fortunes that included a birdie on the 17th and bogey on the final 18th hole.

?The course were tough again but I hung in there and I?m not at all disappointed. I will learn a lot from this week and hope to keep my momentum heading into the end of the year,? said Sung.

Malaysia?s Airil Rizman, who won the Pakistan Open in January, finished in joint 16th position after a 75 for a 287 total alongside compatriot S.Sivachandran who was even-par for the day.

?I am on the right track but I believe I can improve from here. It was a struggle out there but overall I?m satisfied,? said Airil.

Leading final round scores

279 - Artemio Murakami (PHI) 70-72-69-68

280 - Simon Yates (SCO) 71-70-72-67, Tony Lascuna (PHI) 72-71-67-70

281 - Sung Mao-chang (TPE) 69-75-68-69, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 70-69-70-72

282 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 68-74-74-66

283 - Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 70-72-71-70

284 - Jason Knutzon (USA) 71-67-72-74

285 - Lin Wen-Tang (TPE) 71-71-75-68

286 - Scott Barr (AUS) 72-70-74-70, Stephen Scahill (NZL) 70-72-73-71, Kao Bo-song (TPE) 75-70-70-71, Gavin Flint (AUS) 73-73-67-73, Gary Simpson (AUS) 74-70-69-73, Adam Le Vesconte (AUS) 72-69-69-76

287 - Gerald Rosales (PHI) 70-70-76-71, S. Sivachandran (MAS) 74-70-72-71, Brad Kennedy (AUS) 73-69-73-72, Chinarat Phadungsil (THA) 75-70-70-72, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 72-72-70-73, Airil Rizman (MAS) 71-69-72-75

About the Iskandar Johor Open

The Iskandar Johor Open will be celebrating its inaugural edition on the Asian Tour when it is staged on August 23-26, 2007. The Championship is supported by the Johor state government and the Iskandar Region Development Authority (IRDA). The Iskandar Johor Open will be held at the esteemed Royal Johor Country Club offering US$300,000 in total prize money.

About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include UBS (Naming rights sponsor to the UBS Order of Merit and Official Financial Services Provider), Sofitel (Official Hotel), Srixon (Official Ball), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner) and ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.