x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE golfers happy with best showing yet at Nomura Cup

The UAE golf team completed their strongest showing at the Nomura Cup, won by Australia, as they finished the tournament in Fiji in 14th place.

Ahmed Al Musharrekh performed the best of the UAE team at the Nomura Cup.
Ahmed Al Musharrekh performed the best of the UAE team at the Nomura Cup.

The UAE golf team completed their strongest showing at the Nomura Cup yesterday as they finished the tournament in Fiji in 14th place.

All four players - Ahmed Al Musharrekh, his brother Abdulla, Kahlid Yousuf and Saif Thabet - ended the tournament with rounds in the 70s. It was an experience that Chris Vallender, the UAE coach, described as "invaluable."

While they finished short of their target of a top-10 finish, Vallender was pleased with what they achieved.

"That was our best ever performance in this competition, not just in terms of results, but also the way the players worked hard and learnt about this level of golf," Vallender said. "It was invaluable in terms of what they can take into their games from the past four days.

"For all the guys to finish in the 70s on the last day was a sign of real improvement and Ahmed, especially, was superb more or less for all four days. He really stepped up to the mark and had a great week."

Vallender said the team's struggles in rounds two and three kept them from reaching the top 10.

"But this kind of tournament is really tough and has shown up the limitations our guys have in terms of competing at international level," the coach said.

"They are not usually exposed to such good players, so for them to do so well is evidence of the work they put in.

"We can move forward from this. I was really pleased with the way they all came together and I am sure we can improve greatly on this, as long as we continue to test ourselves at this kind of level."

Ahmed Al Musharrekh had the best tournament of the UAE quartet, with rounds of 68, 73, 80 and 75 for a total of 296, eight over par, which will strengthen his claim for being the best young golfer in the Gulf. Yousuf came next (74-87-87-74-322), then Abdulla Al Musharrekh (76-89-87-75-327) and Thabet (92-98-88-79-357).

Australia, who had led the event from the start, completed their dominance by securing their ninth victory in the tournament.

Going into the final round with a 13-stroke lead, the team of Cameron Smith, Jake Higginbottom, Marika Batibasaga and Daniel Bringolf returned a combined score of 15-under-par for the last round to beat New Zealand by 21 strokes.

The Australians completed the event with a 24-under-par total of 840. India retained their third position with a final score of 865.

Australia finished first, second and third in the individual event, with 18-year-old Smith leading from start to finish in the standings.

He returned with a final round four-under-par 68, for a nine-under total of 279.

Smith and Higginbottom are now automatically selected in the Asia-Pacific Team to contest the Bonallack Trophy against Europe in Portugal next year.

"It was a pleasure to watch how the guys played," said Matt Cutler, the Australia team manager. "They really raised their game over all four rounds."

John Gatley, the New Zealand team manager, said despite finishing well behind Australia, the relatively inexperienced team equipped themselves well.

"It was the first senior team performance for three of our guys and they stood up to that pressure well," he said.

"Finishing 21 shots back from Aussie isn't too flattering but the way these guys came back in rounds three and four was great to watch."

ncameron@thenational.ae