Cheng Jin puts Augusta dream aside for Nomura

Joy Chakravarty 06:48 22/10/2015
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Major talent: Cheng Jin.

Cheng Jin might have Augusta National on his mind but insists his immediate focus is on Abu Dhabi and China’s bid to finally win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship.

– Regional: Bhatia takes RAK Junior Open
– Abu Dhabi: Yas praised by A-P Confederation chairman
– MENA: Debutants lead at Muscat Hills Championship

Jin will spearhead China’s tilt for a maiden Nomura Cup title at Yas Links Abu Dhabi starting on Thursday, fresh from winning the weather-shortened Asia Pacific individual amateur men’s title in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The victory earned the 17-year-old a dream start in next April’s Masters at Augusta National where he will trade blows with the world’s best professionals including defending champion Jordan Spieth.

It’s head-spinning stuff for one so young but the talented teen appears to be taking it all in his stride at Yas Links where 27, four-man teams tee it up today in the opening round of the 72-hole teams strokeplay event.

“Augusta is the dream of every golfer I guess and I think when I step there next year, it is just going to be so exciting,” Jin said.

“I’m excited about everything. Every round I play there, how the course is going to look like and the facilities and Augusta itself…everything. They are best players in the world so I’m just going to try to learn from them and enjoy the tournament and enjoy the time I play with them.”

For now, Jin is focused on leading China’s bid for their first Nomura Cup victory. It will be a monumental feat if China do win.

Australia have won a record 10 Nomura Cups, including seven of the last eight titles, so they are the firm favourites this week. Australia’s Trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand, eight time champions Japan and Chinese Taipei all intend having a say in the outcome of the championship.

Jin certainly appears to have the game to put China in contention. His victory at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Hong Kong included a sizzling opening round, course-record 62 at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club. He followed it up with rounds of 68-69 for a one shot lead heading into the final round which was eventually abandoned.

But for now, Jin is focused on the Nomura Cup. He played at the last edition in Thailand in 2013 and won selection for the prestigious Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy on the back of his form there.

Jin isn’t predicting how China will perform at Yas Links, but is looking forward to the week.

“It’s my first time here in Abu Dhabi and I couldn’t wait to go out on the golf course,” he added. “I enjoy playing team events even though we don’t get to play them a lot, the kind of feeling you get from spending time with your teammates, it’s different from when you play individual events. I’m always proud to represent my country.”

The lowest three of four scores count towards the team total on each day of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament which is second only to the Eisenhower Trophy world amateur teams’ championship in terms of size and global stature.

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UAE in bullish mood ahead of the Nomura Cup at Yas

Sport360 staff 16:28 21/10/2015
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Yas Links Abu Dhabi will host the 27th Nomura Cup.

An intensive international build-up focused on improved biomechanics, fitness and mental game preparation has the United Arab Emirates in a bullish mood on the eve of the 27th Nomura Cup at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.

– Regional: Bhatia takes RAK Junior Open
– Abu Dhabi: Yas praised by A-P Confederation chairman
– MENA: Debutants lead at Muscat Hills Championship

UAE coach Greg Holmes has set Khalid Yousuf, Rashid Hamood, Abdulla Al Qubaisi and promising teen Ahmed Skaik the goal of being the top Arab nation at the Asia-Pacific Golf Team Championship being hosted by the Emirates Golf Federation.

It’s a lofty objective given the UAE’s recent fifth-place finish at GCC Championship in Kuwait last May. But with his top players back from military duty and a build-up that has seen the team play and train in Germany and at the European Tour Performance Institute in Terre Blanch, France, Holmes is looking for a much improved showing. 

“We’d definitely like to be at the top end of the Middle East table with the likes of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan [plus Iran and Lebanon],” said Holmes. “And if we could finish in the top half overall that would be really nice,” Holmes said.


“We’re obviously playing some very serious countries here…teams like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, they pick from much bigger pools of talent and we haven’t had the U15 and U18 players pushing through to the senior level. We’re working on that now and have had some good results at the junior level and with our women’s programme.”

The UAE is now concentrating on extracting every last ounce of ability out of the players and Holmes is pleased with his team’s preparation so far.

“We’ve done a lot of work on our biomechanics and I have to say the guys are pretty fit as well. We’ve also done a lot on the mental game, our pre-shot routines, a lot of process work,” Holmes said.

“It’s about focusing on the shot at hand, the process and not worrying about the result. Now it’s time to take that out onto Yas Links. The last two days of practice has been great. They’re all hitting it pretty well, they’re all good ball strikers, but now it’s obviously about getting that going in the tournament.”

The 27th edition of the biennial Nomura Cup, featuring 27 four man teams, tees off tomorrow morning.

The lowest three of four scores count towards the team total on each day of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament which is second only to the Eisenhower Trophy world amateur teams’ championship in terms of size and global stature.

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UAE amateurs have chance to play a part in Matteo Manassero’s day

Joy Chakravarty 10:43 21/10/2015
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Record-breaker: Matteo Manassero.

UAE amateurs are invited to be part of the action when history-making Italian star Matteo Manassero hosts a special ‘Golf in Abu Dhabi’ tournament at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on November 2.

The 18-hole stableford event includes a 60-minute pre-tournament clinic by Manassero who became the youngest winner of a European Tour event when he captured the 2010 Castello Masters in Spain aged 17 years and 188 days.

Manassero, now 22, will then be stationed on one of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club’s par 3s, ensuring all players get to enjoy playing a hole with the Milan man who captured the fourth of his European Tour titles, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, in 2013, but has been winless since then.

– Regional golf round-up: Bhatia takes RAK Junior Open
– Macao Open: Anirban Lahiri ready to bounce back
– Portugal Masters: Levy hoping for repeat triumph

The Italian prodigy was unveiled as a global ambassador for ‘Golf in Abu Dhabi’ in 2011.

As well as the November 2 tournament at Saadiyat Beach, Manassero is looking forward to the opening event of the European Tour’s annual Desert swing – January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – as he looks to rebound from two winless, frustrating campaigns.

Once ranked as high as 29 in the official world golf rankings, Manassero has slid from 158th at the start of this season to a lowly 491 and is positioned well outside the top-60 players who will contest the Race to Dubai’s season-ending DP World Tour Championships at Jumeriah Golf Estates.

But Manassero, who has a full tour exemption until 2018 courtesy of his BMW PGA Championship win, clearly has the pedigree to respond to the form stall and will enjoy his brief end-of-season desert golf reconnaissance mission to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

UAE amateurs have the chance to enjoy the Manassero tournament where a sumptuous BBQ prizegiving dinner and Q&A will cap the event which will also be contested by 30 international golf journalists as well as winners of a Europe- and Asia-wide Manassero competition.

UAE golfers can guarantee their spot in the field (12.30pm shotgun start) with great rates, starting from Dh495 for Saadiyat Beach Golf Club members, Dh695 for member guest or Troon Executive Card holders and Dh895 for Emirates Golf Federation members and visitors.

Spaces are limited so email your entry to [email protected] before they are filled up.

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