Asian Nations Off the Pace on Opening Day in Karuizawa

Gavin Green fired an opening 68.
Gavin Green fired an opening 68.

Karuizawa, Japan: Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chun-an fired a 67 and Malaysian Gavin Kyle Green, China’s Dou Zecheng, Indian Udayan Mane and Thai Suradit Yongcharoen-chai  signed for 68s on the opening day of the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship.
However, despite those impressive individual efforts, no Asian nation featured in the top-nine at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
While Canada, Sweden and Switzerland shared the first-round honours with 10-under-par team totals of 134, host nation Japan emerged as the leading Asian contender, in a tie for 10th place on 138 thanks to 69s from Kazuya Koura and Kenta Konishi.
A further stroke back in joint 16th is Chinese Taipei followed by India [equal 25th, three-under], China, Singapore and Thailand [equal 27th, two-under], Hong Kong and Malaysia [equal 34th, one-under], Korea [equal 38th, even-par] and Philippines [51st, six-over].
Canadian Corey Conners, the 2014 US Amateur runner-up, and Taylor Pendrith, who were college team-mates, tallied 66 and 68 as Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult fired the day’s lowest round, a seven-under 65, to go along with Hannes Ronneblad’s 69 and Switzerland received a 66 from Mathias Eggenberger and a 68 from Benjamin Rusch to tie at 134 at Karuizawa’s par-72 Iriyama Course.
Conners, who shared 2014 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honours with Pendrith at Kent State University in the USA, exploded for five birdies on his opening nine and finished with seven against one bogey.
Pendrith, who was six-under through 16 holes, bogeyed the last two holes for a 68. Adam Svensson shot a non-counting 69.
“We’re not going to try to do anything crazy. We’re just going to stick to our gameplan and try to play to our strengths and if we happen to shoot 29-under-par that would be pretty sweet,” said Conners, referring to the winning score in the recently-completed Women’s World Amateur Team Championship at Karuizawa. In that competition, Australia came from behind to defeat Canada by two strokes.
Swede Kinhult posted seven birdies on a bogey-free card. The 18-year-old won the silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games two weeks ago in China then flew home to play in the Jacques Leglise Trophy in Sweden and then flew to Japan.
Eggenberger, who represented the continent of Europe at the St Andrews Trophy in Sweden and attends Stirling University in Scotland, carded an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys. Rusch tallied six birdies and two bogeys in his round.
Thirty-seven teams broke par in the first round and 65 sub-par scores counted, breaking the record of 42 in 2004.
The World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 137 national governing bodies in 131 countries. The competition, which is being held for the 26th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa.
This year’s event is hosted by the Japan Golf Association. The teams play for the Eisenhower Trophy.
In each round, the total of the two lowest scores from each team constitutes the team score for the round. The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship
Teams which played the Iriyama Course in the first round will play the Oshitate Course in the second round and vice-versa.

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