Japanese Toru Nakajima, seeking to regain his Philippine Golf Tour card, fired a one-under and 71 to post a one-stroke lead over Koreans Lee Seongki and Kim Yoo Han at the start of the PGT Qualifying School (foreign) at Eagle Ridge’s Aoki course in Cavite Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Nakajima, who nipped Jay Bayron and Cassius Casas in a playoff to win the season-ending ICTSI Wack Wack Championship in 2013 but missed the circuit last year, rallied with three birdies at the back to cap his big comeback from a 38 start as he paced the big 66-player field chasing slots for this year’s ICTSI PGT.
Lee also closed out with 33 to salvage a 72 in a tie with Kim, who had 36-36, while Koreans Seok Jun Min, Seo Hyeong dae and Park Jun Hyeok all carded 73s.
Park looked headed for a big start with a 34 but dropped four strokes in the first four holes at the back, including a double-bogey mishap on No. 11 to finish with a 73.
Amateur Jung Hoe Yeop, also of Korea, shot a 74 for joint seventh with compatriot Lee Sangun while Toru Morita fought back with a 35 for a 75 in a tie with fellow Japanese Yuta Sudo, and Koreans Lyu Hyung Suk and Cho Phil Kyu.
Japan’s Yuto Katsuragawa, the top amateur in last year’s ICTSI PGT, made a 76 and stayed within the cutoff line along with compatriot Yuki Kishida, and Koreans Kim Jung Hun and Kim Chang Hoi.
Only the top 20 players after four rounds will gain cards for this year’s ICTSI PGT which fires off next month at Valley with 20 other local qualifiers, led by low medalist Jobim Carlos, joining the top 40 pros from last year’s Order of Merit ranking in the upcoming circuit.