MATASUBARA’S COURSE RECORD HELPS JAPAN CLOSE IN ON CHINESE TAIPEI AFTER OPENING ROUND OF NOMURA CUP
October 23rd, 2015
Japan’s Daisuke Matasubara shoots sizzling 62 as bad light suspends play with Chinese Taipei leading the Asia-Pacific Golf Team Championship after the opening round at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
ABU DHABI, UAE (October 22, 2015) – Japan’s Daisuke Matasubara finished in the dark but still managed to set the 27th Nomura Cup alight with a sizzling course record 62 on an opening day of slow but spectacular scoring at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
Matasubara reeled off eight birdies and an eagle three on Yas Link’s par 5 11th hole to finish 10-under and set Japan up as a serious title contender at the biennial Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship.
Chinese Taipei held the clubhouse lead overnight with a team aggregate of 198, 18-under-par (the lowest three of four scores count towards the team total in each round).
Japan were also at -18 but two players, Takumi Kanaya and Toshiki Ishitoku, must return early on Friday morning (UAE Time) to play Yas Link’s tricky, water-fringed par 5 18th to complete their first rounds.
With Matasubara at -10, Naoyuki Kataoka also in at -4 and Kanaya unlikely to count at level par, the spotlight will be on Ishitoku, who was -4 when play was suspended due to darkness, to see if he can birdie the 18th to hand Japan the first round lead.
Thailand, helped immeasurably by a 64 from Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng, will start the second round in third place at -10, five shots ahead of Singapore in third. New Zealand (-4), defending champions Australia (-3), China (-2) and India (-1) round out the top seven with the remaining 20 nations all over par.
An opening round of one-under 71 from Khalid Yousuf set up an encouraging start from the United Arab Emirates with the host nation in a share of 10th place overnight alongside GCC rivals Qatar on +6.
Whatever happens early tomorrow with Ishitoku, this Nomura Cup is off to sensational start scoring wise despite rounds frustratingly exceeding six hours.
Travis Smyth, the No.1 player for defending champions Australia, predicted before the tournament that 10 under over 72 holes would go close to topping the individual leaderboard at Yas Links. That theory has been destroyed after just 18 holes by Matasubara who took advantage of the lighter afternoon breeze, soft greens and a hot putter to slash two shots off the amateur course record set by Mattias Eggenberger in the 2013 Yas Links Open.
Chun-An Yu held the course record for a few precious moments, his 63 propelling Chinese Taipei to the clubhouse lead. Yu, sixth at the recent IMG Academy Junior World Golf Championships and member of the gold medal winning Chinese Taipei team at last year’s Asian Games in South Korea, was ably backed up by Han-Ting Chiu (67) and Sun-Yi Lu (68) while Yung-Hua Liu’s two over 74 was the non-counting score.
But the day ultimately belonged to Matasubara.“I was thinking of just finishing the 18 holes in the same day, that’s all that was on my mind,” said Matasubara who had to settle for a par on the par 5 18th in the descending gloom.
Matasubara praised Japan coach Gareth Jones and non-playing captain Katsuji Hotta for his fine start.“We made a game plan with Gareth and the captain during practice. I stuck to what they said and just remained calm and committed to each shot, so that’s why it all came together today. I played really well.”
Matasubara believes Japan are in the right space mentally to push on to the title.“The team have not finished [the first round] but they are all playing very well like me. We just have to repeat the game plan from Gareth and the captain and we will be fine…if I do that, and we do that, I and we will come out on top.”
Australia were among the earlier starters which meant Travis Smyth, Brett Coletta, Harrison Endycott – who carded matching one-under 71s, and Ben Eccles (a non-counting 72) faced the stiffer morning breezes.
At three under par, the defending champions are a whopping 15 shots off the pace but Smyth isn’t panicking. The Australians will be hoping a visit to the nearby Ferrari World theme park overnight had them reeved up for round two.
“There was nothing to chase going out early but our main goal this week is to play our own game, not worry about anyone else because we all believe we can beat anyone of these guys out here,” Smyth said.
“It’s only day one. Anything can happen because three scores count every day, there’s a lot of scores to added up, a lot of golf to be played. You can’t win it on day one but you can definitely set yourself up. We’ve just got to stick to the game plan and I think we’ll be fine.”
The UAE were delighted with their opening round efforts. As well as Yousuf’s 71, a round that mixed five birdies with two double bogeys, 18-year-old Ahmed Skaik produced a fine 75 and Rashid Hamood a 76. Abdulla Al Qubaisi started fast with birdies on the opening two holes but faded to a non-counting 84 and will look to rebound in round two today.
“I believe our first round at the last Nomura Cup [in Thailand two years ago] was 19 over par so we’ve cut that by two thirds which is pretty good,” said Yousuf.
“Everyone is really happy, impressed with the guys. We just have to follow on from today and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re happy with today but there are three rounds left and a lot of golf to play.
“And as you can see from the scores from the other teams, they’re not going to back down.”