UAE remain hopeful of top-10 Nomura Cup finish

The UAE face a tall order to achieve their goal of a top-10 finish at the Nomura Cup
Khalid Yousuf shot a round of 87 yesterday at the Nomura Cup as the UAE fell to 13th place.
Khalid Yousuf shot a round of 87 yesterday at the Nomura Cup as the UAE fell to 13th place.

The UAE golf team were "distraught" after a poor second round at the Nomura Cup in Fiji saw them slip out of the top 10.

Ahmed Al Musharrekh, who shot a one-over par round of 73, was the only player who did not struggle with his game on the notoriously difficult Natadola Golf Course in the resort of Denarau, which meant the four-man team slipped to 13th position.

They are still in line for a best finish in the tournament, which is between the top amateur nations in Asia, but the four-man team suffered a blow to their morale following their toils on the course.

Chris Vallender, the coach, said the players were too upset to talk after a bad day at the office, which was in contrast to the opening afternoon when they were in joint-seventh position overall and just 11 shots off the pace.

Khalid Yousuf shot a round of 87, Abdulla Al Musharrekh came home in 86, while Saif Thabet recorded a high of 98.

The best three rounds count and their total of 249 puts them at 467 after two days of the four-day competition.

They still have a chance of a top 10 spot if they do well in today's third round and tomorrow's final round, but cannot afford another round like yesterday's if they are to have a chance of achieving that.

"The boys are really disappointed and distraught," Vallender said. "As am I, not with them or the effort they put in, but with the scores they came in with and they feel as if they've let themselves down.

"Ahmed again played well, but they all had some bad holes where they ran up big scores and that's what has cost them.

"They made some mistakes and were punished.

"We were in a great position, but unfortunately for us this is a difficult course and it hurt them.

"What we need to do now is keep our focus and get back to how they performed on Tuesday, which was to play the course and stick to our own game plan.

"I believe they can still finish in a top 10 position, which was our goal beforehand, but that is going to take some hard work over the final two days."

On day one, Ahmed Al Musharrekh had shot 68, Yousuf 74, Abdulla Al Musharrekh 76 and Thabet 92.

The one bright spot was the form of 20-year-old Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the younger of the two golfing brothers, who sits third overall in the individual standings on three-under par, behind two Australians, Cameron Smith (six under) and Jake Higginbottom (five under).

Australia, the pre-tournament favourites, extended their lead after the second round.

Their team returned an aggregate score of four under par, for a 36-hole total of 419, 13 under par.

South Korea, the defending champions stormed up the leader board, recording a three-under-par total to sit in second place on 431. India are in third place on 434, with New Zealand fourth with a score of 435.

The Vijay Singh-designed Natadola Bay course tested the players with its extreme rough off the fairways.

Many players struggled if they were just slightly off target from the tee as many scorecards were spoiled by high numbers.

Matt Cutler, the Australia team manager, last night said: "We are very pleased with today's scores. The team all showed great patience around this demanding course.

"The team has bonded really well and has a great dynamic.

"[Team member] Marika Batibasaga is very familiar with Fiji so has been teaching the boys the 'Fijian way'."

Round three will be played again at Natadola Bay today, with the final round to be played at Denarau tomorrow.


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Published: August 18, 2011 04:00 AM


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