A four-cornered battle among defending champion Thailand, Australia, Japan and Korea looms with host Philippines out to pull of a surprise in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Team Championship otherwise known as the Nomura Cup starting Tuesday at the Masters course of the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club in Carmona, Cavite.
Thailand returns to the Nomura Cup five years since ending its search for a breakthrough victory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a rookie-laden squad bannered by Pongsapak Laopakdee, a member of the last Junior Presidents Cup International team.
Japan is eyeing its second win in the last three stagings of the biennial event, pinning its hopes on Yuta Sugiura who at No. 32 is the highest rated player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings with Minato Oshima and Riura Matsui as his backups.
A perennial title contender, Korea fields Yubin Jang, Hyun Uk Kim and Dong Hyun Moon expected to make another good run at the title it won for the first and only time when it hosted the Nomura Cup in 2009.
The Koreans are actually paired with the Philippine trio as well as Hong Kong in the first three flights in the opening round of the event.
The local campaign will be bannered by Kristoffer Arevalo, Elee Bisera and Coby Rolida with Bisera and Rolida out to make their national team debuts a memorable one before a hometown crowd.
Arevalo and Rolida both call Southwoods home and hope to translate their familiarity with the course into a distinct advantage that will help the country make a strong bid to equal or even surpass its two runner-up finishes that came in 1971 and 1977.
Australia, meanwhile, is seeking its 11th win with a team made up of Jack Buchanan, Jye Anthony Pickin and Quinnton Bryce Crocker. The Aussies have been a dominant force the past two decades, posting the longest streak of five straight championships from 1999 to 2011 and five out of eight from 1999 to 2005.
The Philippines had finished second twice but those runner-up finishes came quite a long time ago, first in 1971 and then in 1977.
The event is sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, PLDT, TV5, PING, the Philippine Sports Commission, the Philippine Olympic Committee, Yamaha, Bettinardi, Gatorade and Hytera. Cignal and One Sports are media partners.
The other countries participating are Chinese-Taipei, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.
The Nomura Cup is part of the APGC’s portfolio of events that also includes the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, Queen Sirikit Cup, APGC Senior Championship, APGC Junior Championship Mitsubishi Corporation Cup, Bonallack Trophy and Patsy Hankins Trophy, and the Asia-Pacific Open Diamond Cup Golf on the Japan Golf Tour Organization schedule.