Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Japan has ended a 26-year victory drought in the Asia-Pacific Golf Team Championship for the Nomura Cup.
In a nail-biting countback finish at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, the Japanese edged out Chinese Taipei thanks to the closing 75 of the team’s fourth player, Toshiki Ishitoku.
Held in Abu Dhabi for the first time, the 27th edition of the event saw Japan and Chinese Taipei finish the week locked together at the top of the leaderboard on 842, 22-under-par, collecting the best three of four scores each day.
The Japanese team of Daisuke Matsubara, Naoyuki Kataoka, Takumi Kanaya and Ishitoku received the trophy from His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
Helped by an opening round 10-under 62 by Matsubara, Team Japan have been on a sharp learning curve since welcoming their new coach, Gareth Jones little over three weeks ago.
Katsuii Hotta, Japan’s non-playing Captain, said: “It has been a long 26 years for Japan. This means a lot to us, this is huge. We started a new elite programme just three weeks ago so this is a great and unimaginable start. This is all about Gareth Jones, The Gareth Jones effect! He really has led us to victory this week, as his preparation with technique and tactics have been fantastic. I let him control the team and I cannot thank him enough for what he has done.”
After a dominant recent spell from Australia who have won a record 10 Nomura Cups, the victory by Japan demonstrates their commitment to amateur golf.
Hotta said: “With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind, we are aiming for a gold medal. Last year, we hosted the World Amateur Championships and we didn’t do very well. But this is an important step for Japan. We are trying to build a better programme for our best amateurs golfers. This new programme is designed to produce more successful golfers for our future.”
The team from Chinese Taipei consisting of Chiu Han-ting, Yu Chun-an, Liu Yung-hua and Lu Sun-yi had lead from day one but faltered in the final few holes of the Kyle Phillips-designed course. Korea was third on 16-under.
Chinese Cheng Jin won the individual event with a dominant 13-under total. He will play in the 2016 US Masters following his victory earlier this month at the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
The 72-hole stroke play event in Abu Dhabi was organised by the Emirates Golf Federation and Yas Links Abu Dhabi on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation.
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