Matasubara stars for Japan and Yousuf takes the lead for the UAE

Japanese finishes in the dark with a course record of 62 while champions Australia finish 15 shots off the pace.

UAE'S Khalid Yousuf tees off on the 16th at Yas Links on the opening day of the 2015 Nomura Cup in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Ihab Mokayed / Professional Sports Group
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ABU DHABI // Japan’s Daisuke Matasubara finished in the dark but still managed to set the 27th Nomura Cup alight with a course-record 62 on an opening day of slow but spectacular scoring at Yas Links Golf Club.

An opening round of one-under 71 from Khalid Yousuf set up an encouraging start for the UAE for a share of 10th place after Matasubara’s 10-under effort set Japan up as a serious title contender at the biennial Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship. Matasubara reeled off eight birdies and an eagle on the par 5 11th hole.

With the lowest three of four scores counting towards the team total in each round Chinese Taipei held the clubhouse lead overnight with a team aggregate of 198, 18-under par.

Japan were also at 18-under but two players, Takumi Kanaya and Toshiki Ishitoku, must return early today to tackle the tricky, water-fringed par 5 18th to complete their first rounds.

With Matasubara at 10-under, Naoyuki Kataoka also in at four-under and Kanaya unlikely to count at level par, the spotlight will be on Ishitoku, who was four-under when play was suspended due to darkness, to see if he can birdie the 18th to hand Japan the first-round lead.

UAE were at six-over along with Qatar. 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 as light faded.

Thailand, helped immeasurably by a 64 from Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng, will start the second round today in second place at 10-under, 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.

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 is not panicking. The Australians will be hoping a visit to the nearby Ferrari World theme park overnight will have them revved up for Round 2.

“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.

The UAE were delighted with their early efforts. As well as Yousuf’s 71, Ahmed Skaik, 18, 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 2 today.

“I believe our first round at the last Nomura Cup was 19-over par so we’ve cut that by two thirds, which is pretty good,” Yousuf said.

“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.”