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 rivals to school.
After sharing the first round lead with Japan at 18-under par, Chinese Taipei continued to shock even themselves on Saturday by forging to a five shot lead on top of 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 seven-under par 209. That left them with a 36-hole total of 407, a combined 25-under-par, with Japan in second on 412 and Thailand in third a further seven shots adrift on 419.
Ten-time Nomura Cup champions Australia have found the early going tough at Yas Links. Australia were sixth, a whopping 20 shots off the pace, while New Zealand were slightly better in fifth place on 425.
The UAE endured a tough day, with teenager Ahmed Skaik’s 79 the highlight as the host slipped behind. Rashid Hamood (80), Khalid Yousuf (82) and Abdulla Al Qubaisi (non-counting 86) will look to do much better over the weekend with the UAE on 463.
Despite captain Sung’s modest objectives, Taipei were always going to be a force, considering they won the gold medal at last year’s Asian Games in South Korea.
Yu, who backed up his 63 on Thursday with a 71, is the only survivor from that victorious team. 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) 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 was 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. Today, we had a little struggle.
“Actually I didn’t expect we can win here even though we are the Asian Games champions. The Nomura Cup is tough competition with Australia New Zealand, Japan, South Korea… they are all good teams. We have only one player from the Asia Games and two very young, inexperienced players.”