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Isaac Lam in action for Hong Kong during the 29th Nomura Cup at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club. Photo: HKGA

Japan’s golfers put seal on outstanding year with victory at Nomura Cup, winning amateur event for 10th time

  • Yuta Sugiura and Minato Oshima lead way in Philippines at Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship
  • Hong Kong trio of Leon D’Souza, Isaac Lam and Lou Tan finish ninth at Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club

Japan set the seal on another outstanding year for their young golfing stars with a memorable victory in the 29th edition of the Nomura Cup in the Philippines on Friday.

With 21-year-old Yuta Sugiura and 17-year-old Minato Oshima to the fore, Japan surged to a seven-stroke win over the Masters Course at Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club.

It was a record-equalling 10th title for Japan in the event that was inaugurated in 1963 and is also known as the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship.

D’Souza to lead Hong Kong in last event as amateur as Nomura Cup returns

Hong Kong trio, Leon D’Souza, Isaac Lam and Lou Tan combined to finish ninth, with D’Souza finishing highest in the individual competition at one-over for the tournament.

Three shots clear at the top after three rounds with Singapore, Korea and New Zealand hot on their heels, Sugiura and Oshima stood firm to ensure Japan’s overnight advantage never came under serious threat.

While Sugiura returned a rock-solid, bogey-free four-under-par 68, Oshima posted a 71 that included a double-bogey seven at the last. That gave the Japanese a fourth-round aggregate of 139 in the event in which the two best daily scores each day are counted.

The only team to break 140 on all four days, Japan’s overall total of 552 was 24-under, with Singapore on 559 and Korea a further shot back in third.

Fittingly the battle for individual honours came down to the two highest-rated players in the field – Sugiua, 32nd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and 54th-placed Singaporean James Leow.

The Masters Course at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club. Photo: Handout

Leow led for most of the day and took a one-stroke advantage to the par-five 18th. But in a dramatic denouement, there was a three-shot swing in the Japanese player’s favour with Leow running up a double-bogey seven after blocking his second shot into a water hazard and signing for an even-par 72.

Sugiura, meanwhile, maintained his composure to make a birdie-four for a 14-under 274 total, two shots in front of Leow.

In what may well prove to be his amateur swansong, 25-year-old Leow – Southeast Asian Games gold medallist in the Philippines in 2019 – at least had the satisfaction of ensuring Singapore bettered their previous best fourth-place Nomura Cup finish.

Oshima’s final-hole blip meant he was pipped for third spot by Korean Jang Yubin. Such was the consistency of Oshima and Sugiura that the contribution of Riura Matsui – the third member of the Japanese team – was not required on any of the four days.

Despite a triple-bogey seven at the 10th, Brandon Han eked out a gutsy one-under 71, bettering Singaporean teammates Leow and Ryan Ang (75) and ensuring his score was counted for the first time.

Thailand, winners of the Nomura Cup in 2017, the last time the event was staged, enjoyed a strong finish to claim fourth spot in the team standings on 565. Arsit Areephun, Ashita Piamkulvanich and Pongsapak Laopakdee all signed off with 69s as Thailand recorded the best final-day team tally of 138.

The best round of the final day was compiled by Malaysian Zia Izzuddeen who was six-under through 17 without a dropped shot to that point. Although he bogeyed the par-five last for a 67, he ended as the leading player from his country, one in front of Malcolm Ting.

Japan won the first two editions of the Nomura Cup in 1963 and 1965 and triumphed a further three times during the 1970s and 1980s. When they won in 2015 it ended a 26-year victory drought. They have now captured the trophy in two of the past three stagings with this week’s tournament marking a welcome return to the calendar for the event following a five-year absence.