Team China made the best of atrocious weather on Sunday to pip an Asia-Pacific Select side 12 1/2 – 11 1/2 and win OneAsia’s Ryder Cup-style Dongfeng Nissan Cup for a first time.
It took the last putt of a gripping contest to decide the match in China’s favour, with the home team winning Sunday’s singles 7 – 5 after taking Saturday’s foursomes 4 – 2 and going down 4 1/2 – 1 1/2 in Friday’s fourball encounters.
The Dongfeng Nissan Cup pits 12 Asia-Pacific players against a China national team over three days of matchplay competition at the CTS Tycoon Golf Club. The visitors won the inaugural 2011 tournament 12 1/2 – 11 1/2, and retained the title last year with a 14 1/2 – 9 1/2 victory.
“I said last week that when it comes to golf, China has been asleep for 40 years — but they have certainly woken up now,” said legendary five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson, captain of the Asia-Pacific Select side for a third year.
“I am very impressed with the progress they have made. They are ready to take on anyone.”
The importance of the win to Team China was obvious as they mobbed Su Dong (above) after he sank a nervy four-footer to halve the 18th and beat Scott Laycock by one.
Su had missed a similar-length sitter on the 17th that would have secured the win, while Laycock’s 20-footer on the last to force a tie and playoff, agonisingly shaved the hole.
“This was a really good win for us,” said Cheng Jun, Team China’s vice-captain.
“This is definitely the strongest Asia-Pacific side that we have faced in the three years of the tournament, so I am very proud that this team managed to beat them.”
Cheng said the weather definitely helped the home team, with cold rain drenching the course overnight and through most of the day.
“A lot of my players are from the north where it is already hard winter,” said Cheng. “This weather is nothing to them.”
Playing in the second flight, Wu Ashun drew first blood for the home side with a 4 & 3 victory against Michael Long, but the visitors swiftly cancelled that when Masimichi Uehira beat Wang Minghao 3 & 1 — an eagle on the par-four 17th underlining his dominance.
Choi Ho-sung and Huang Wenyi’s match was the first to go the distance and looked a likely Asia-Pacific win after Huang put his second into the water left of the 18th green and Choi safely found the middle. After dropping into an awkward lie, however, Huang brilliantly holed his fourth, while Choi could only two-putt for a half.
Filipino-American Eric Mina battled hard against Yan Bin in the next match, but had no answer to the seven birdies his opponent made in 15 holes and went down 4 & 3.
Thaworn Wiratchant simply wasn’t comfortable in the conditions and became a prize scalp for 16-year-old amateur Dou Zecheng in losing 4 & 3. The Thai ace, who was winning tournaments before Dou was even born, gave full credit to his young opponent, saying he had a bright future ahead.
Once Kazuhiro Yamashita — one of two Japan Tour regulars in the Asia-Pacific side — had dispatched Li Xinyang 2 & 1, China led 10 – 9 with five matches on the go.
Choo Tze-huang, Rory Hie and Matthew Griffin all secured halves for the visitors under different circumstances from Wu Kangchun, Huang Mingji and Zhang Lianwei respectively before Gareth Paddison despatched Li Chao 2 & 1 to tie the contest.
The beefy Su, playing in short-sleeves as if in the tropics, then gave the hardy China fans a pre-Christmas treat with his par on the last that delivered the trophy to the home team for the first time.
Results of Sunday’s singles matches between Team China and an Asia-Pacific Select side at OneAsia’s Dongfeng Nissan Cup being played at the CTS Tycoon Club in Shenzhen (Team China names first):
Team China 12 1/2, Asia Pacific Select 11 1/2
Wang Minghao lost to Masimichi Uehira 3 & 1
Wu Ashun bt Michael Long 4 & 3
Huang Wenyi halved with Choi Ho-sung
Yang Guanming bt Kim Dae-sub by one
Yan Bin bt Eric Mina 4 & 3
Dou Zecheng bt Thaworn Wiratchant 4 & 3
Li Xinyang lost to Kazuhiro Yamashita 2 & 1
Wu Kangchun halved with Choo Tze-huang
Huang Mingjie halved with Rory Hie
Zhang Lianwei halved with Matthew Griffin
Su Dong bt Scott Laycock by one
Li Chao lost to Gareth Paddison 2 &1