Australia win 2011 Nomura Cup for a record ninth time
For the first time in the 48-year history of the Asia-Pacific Teams Championship (the Nomura Cup), the championship was played in the Pacific Islands region, hosted in Fiji. This was only the second ever international amateur championship held in Fiji, after the 1978 World Amateur Team Championships were held at the Pacific Harbour Golf and Country Club.
The 2011 Nomura Cup was held over two courses, with the 1st and 4th rounds at Denarau Golf and Racquet Club, and the 2nd and 3rd rounds at Natandola Bay Golf Course. Denarau is a resort style golf course whereas Natandola offers a more challenging layout while providing spectacular views of Fiji’s Coral Coast. Although only two years old, it has already established a reputation as the best and most challenging course in the Pacific, and it certainly lived up to that reputation during this year’s championship.
A record equaling 18 teams from across the Asia-Pacific region lined up to compete for the Nomura Cup, with Samoa and Kyrgyzstan making the first appearances.
An impressive Australian team lead right from the first round and were never challenged, recording a 21 shot victory over silver medalists New Zealand to capture the Nomura Cup for a record ninth time. India ended an 18-year medal drought by earning the bronze a further 4 shots behind, with 2009 Nomura Cup Champions, Korea, finishing in 4th position after losing any chance of defending their title with disastrous 16-over-par 3rd round. Despite their disappointing team performance, Korean players did however manage to record the best rounds at each course with Jae Hyeok Lee firing a course record 68 at Natandola and Sang Yeop Lee a 65 at Denaru.
Australia were led by Cameron Smith who finished on a total of 279, 9 under par. He was the leading individual from team mate Jake Higginbottom who finished on 281 with another Aussie Daniel Bringolf, Kiwi Ryan Fox and Khalin Joshi from India in joint 3rd on 285. The fourth member of the Australian Team was Fijian-born Marika Batibasaga, a two-time winner of the Fiji Open.
The National Golf Association of Fiji together with the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation did an excellent job in conducting the championship and arranging all the logistical matters.
Certainly one of the highlights in staging the championship in Fiji, was the warm welcome and hospitality provided by the local people. They went out of their way to ensure that visiting players and officials had a memorable stay. This hospitality was led by the President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, who is also the Patron of the National Golf Association of Fiji. His Excellency attended both the opening and closing ceremonies, and was a keen spectator on the course. He is also a keen golfer and will no doubt play an important role in the future development of golf in Fiji.
The R&A supported the Nomura Cup with a grant of £25,000.00 to the APGC.
The next Nomura Cup will be held in Thailand in 2013 at the Santiburi Country Club in Chang Rai. This should prove to be a special championship as it marks the 50th year for both the APGC and Nomura Cup.
2011 Nomura Cup Scores
1. Australia – 840
2. New Zealand – 861
3. India – 865
4. Korea – 870
5. Japan – 887
6. Philippines – 891
7. Chinese Taipei – 897
8. China – 898
9. Hong Kong – 899
10. Thailand – 901
11. Fiji – 910
12. Singapore – 911
13. Guam – 938
14. UAE – 945
15. Samoa – 951
16. Papua New Guinea – 992
17. Iran – 1012
18. Kyrgyzstan – 1224
(Note: the top 10 teams earn the right to nominate a player to participate in the 2011 Asia Pacific Panasonic Open which is played on the Japan Golf Tour in late September.)