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Manila: Defending champion Artemio Murakami has warned his rivals that the newly revamped Wack Wack Golf and Country Club will present a truly “tough” challenge in this week’s ICTSI Philippine Open.

The Filipino said that patience will be a key element in his campaign at the US$300,000 championship which is making a welcome return onto the Asian Tour Schedule after a two year lapse.

“It’s going to be really tough. The course was already tricky before the upgrading works but now, they’ve made it a lot longer and it will play extra tough at the ICTSI Philippine Open,” said Murakami.

“You will need to be very patient on the golf course. If you lose your patience, it’ll eat you up. I’ll be trying to take it one step at a time.”

Murakami said that the club’s par three 191-yards 17th hole, which will be used as the eighth in the tournament proper this week, will yet pose the biggest danger to his quest for a repeat victory.

Dubbed as one of the toughest holes in Asia, the hole has claimed many victims including Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang who stumbled to a disastrous 12 in the 2008 edition when he was in contention during the third round.

“It’s going to be a really difficult hole to play,” said Murakami. “They use it as the 17th hole but in the tournament, we’ll play it as the eighth.”

Tournament officials will likely use the back tees only for the final round on Sunday, which could provide a brief reprieve for the likes of Murakami, who is chasing for glory in Asia’s oldest national championship.

Murakami warmed up for his defence with a second place finish at the Asian Development Tour’s Impian Classic in Malaysia over the weekend and declared that his game was in good stead.

“I’m happy with my swing. I’m enjoying playing golf right now and I hope to carry the momentum until the weekend of the Philippine Open,” said Murakami.

Meanwhile another local prospect, Juvic Pagunsan is also hoping to win his second Asian Tour title by overcoming the challenges posed by the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

“I heard that the revamped Wack Wack course has changed a lot especially the fairways and greens. It’s tough to play but I’m looking forward to playing well as winning the ICTSI Philippine Open is a big part of my goal. It’s in my home country and I want to win it,” said Pagunsan.

Photo - Asian Tour 

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