Han-Ting Chiu and team-mate Chun-An Yu first and second individually as Chinese Taipei ease away from joint overnight leaders Japan during second round of the Asia-Pacific Golf Team Championship at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI, UAE (October 23, 2015) – Non-playing captain Tim Sung insists his young Chinese Taipei team have “just come here for learning.” But at the halfway stage of the 27th Nomura Cup at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, they are the ones taking their amateur men’s golf rivals to school.

Han-Ting Chiu (Chinese Taipei)

Han-Ting Chiu (Chinese Taipei)

After sharing the first round lead with Japan at a scarcely believable 18 under par, Chinese Taipei continued to shock even themselves today by forging to a five stroke buffer atop the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship leaderboard.

Led by Han-Ting Chiu’s 65, the lowest round of the day, the Chinese Taipei quartet returned a best three of four card team aggregate of 209 (-7) in round two. That left Sung’s team with a 36-hole total of 407, a combined 25 under par. Japan is second on 412 while Thailand head into Saturday’s third round in the bronze medal position on 419, 12 shots off the pace.

As 10-time champions and the winners of seven of the last eight Nomura Cup titles, Australia were inevitably installed as white hot favourites this week. But like their equally fancied trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand, the Australian’s have found the early going tough at Yas Links. Australia were sixth overnight, a whopping 20 shots off the pace, while New Zealand were only slighter better positioned for a weekend charge in fifth place on 425, 18 shots back.

Chinese Taipei, meanwhile, slipped into Abu Dhabi under the radar which bemused amateur golf aficionados given they had won the gold medal at last year’s Asian Games in South Korea.

But with Chiu and Chun-An Yu in particularly fine form, it is fair to say Chinese Taipei is no longer a title afterthought.

Yu, who backed up his sizzling opening 63 on Thursday with a one-under 71, is the only survivor from the victorious Asian Games campaign with the remainder of that celebrated team now chasing further fame and a new fortune in the paid ranks. But the well of amateur golf talent is obviously deep in Chinese Taipei as Chiu, Yu, Yung-Hua Liu (73) and Sun-Yi Lu (a non-counting 76 yesterday) have shown.

Chiu tops the individual leaderboard on 132, 12 under par, while Yu shares second place on 134 alongside Thailand’s Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng and Japan’s Daisuke Matsubara.

Sung is understandably thrilled with Chinese Taipei’s early play.

“It’s a low score, a lovely score,” said Sung who was captain the last time Chinese Taipei won the Nomura Cup, 18 years ago in 1997.
“We had a great start in the first round, 18 under par, and today seven under par. Today we had a little struggle but our best player Han-Ting Chiu [67-65], he’s shot 12 under par, so that’s an incredible [performance] for me.
“Actually I didn’t expect we can win this tournament even though we were the champions from last year at the Asian Games. The Nomura Cup is more competition with Australia and New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, they are all good teams, their players are all really good and we have only one player from the Asia Games and two very young, inexperienced players.

“After two rounds, 25 under par, that’s pretty nice but the tournament is only halfway so we will see. Whatever the result is it is very good experience for them, we have just come here for learning.”

Sung said his team simply needed to concentrate in their game plan which is templated around avoiding trouble off the tee. Yas Links, Sung said, was an “easy chipping course” but putting was more difficult. His quartet of players will have to maintain their hot hands on the greens if they are go all the way given the scoring Sung predicts this weekend.

“Before the tournament, I said to them, if we want to win, 50-under-par would be needed to beat Australia, Korean and Japan.

“But in any tournament you don’t really know if you have a chance to win until the last nine holes. So there are still 27 holes to go until then so we just have to play every shot with authority until then. You need to tee shot well, and putt well. This course is easy to chip but maybe difficult to putt.”
Singapore, who remain fourth overall, 13 shots off the pace, enjoyed an encouraging second day, matching Chinese Taipei’s 209 aggregate thanks chiefly to a 68 from recent South-east Asia Amateur Championship winner Gregory Foo and a 69 from James Leow.

Japan, too, remain firmly in the hunt despite a second round total of 214, the worst day two aggregate of the major contenders. Japan’s total included Daisuke Matsubara’s even-par 72, 10 shots worse than his course record in the opening round.

Matsubara set off yesterday as he had on Thursday, back-to-back birdies getting him to -12 individually. He made the turn in two under 34 and got it to -13 overall with a birdie on the par 5 11th. But the wheels fell off with a nightmare triple bogey six on Yas Links’ short par 13th, the second easiest hole on the course, and a nervous bogey on 14. Matasubara did gain a shot back on the par 5 18th to halt the bleeding and sign for an even par 72 but Japan will need more from their leading player if Chinese Taipei is to be overhauled this weekend.

The United Arab Emirates endured a tough day, left-handed teen Ahmed Skaik’s 79 the highlight as the host slipped behind Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabian in the Arab nation battle within the battle at this championship. Rashid Hamood (80), Khalid Yousuf (82) and Abdulla Al Qubaisi (non-counting 86) will look to take their second round frustration out on Yas Links over the weekend with the UAE on 463, 31 over par and 56 shots behind Chinese Taipei.