Minato Oshima (AAC photo)
Yuta Sugiura lived up to his billing as the top-ranked player in the field to steer Japan into pole position at the halfway stage of the 29th Nomura Cup.
Displaying the form that has seen him rise to 32nd place in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), Sugiura made light of strong winds to fire a second round of three-under-par 69 over the Masters Course at Manila Southwoods.
As well as earning him a share of first place in the individual standings alongside Australian Jack Buchanan, Sugiura’s performance helped Japan move to the top of the leaderboard in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship, returning to the calendar after a five-year absence.
With Minato Oshima enjoying the receptive greens - softened by overnight rain - contributing a best-of-the-day 67, Japan recorded a day two score of 136 in the event in which the best two daily scores in each three-man team are counted. Although Riura Matsui returned a 73, for the second day in succession his score was not required.
Heading into Thursday’s third round, Japan holds a three-stroke lead from Korea with New Zealand and Singapore a further four shots back in a share of third place.
They are followed by Chinese Taipei (283) and first-round leaders Australia (285) for whom only Buchanan managed to break 80 on day two.
In seventh place are Malaysia (286) followed by Thailand (291), host the Philippines (292), India (294), Indonesia and Hong Kong (both 298), Guam (309), Pakistan (312), United Arab Emirates (339) and Mongolia (345).
Setting off on the back nine, Sugiura dropped a shot on the 10th – his first hole of the day. It was to prove his only blemish, quickly repairing the damage with birdies at 11, 14, 15 and 17.
Sugiura, whose stock rose considerably when he placed third against the professionals in the Japan Open last month, then parred his final 10 holes.
Like his compatriot, the diminutive Oshima, who tied for fifth at last month’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand, did not get off to the best of starts with a bogey at 13, his fourth hole of the day.
However, an eagle-three on the long 15th took him into red figures and he added birdies at 16, 18, four and seven.
With Jang Yubin and Moon Dong-hyun both signing for 68s, Korea matched Japan for the best daily team total of eight-under 136.
Jang is joint third individually on 138 with Oshima and Singaporean James Leow, whose even-par 72 included two double-bogeys.
A further shot back is New Zealand’s Kazuma Kobori who snared seven birdies against three bogeys in his 68.
While Buchanan followed his opening 66 with a 70, his team-mates Quinnton Croker and Jye Pickin both endured a day to forget.
Croker, who had a 69 on day one, carded a birdie-less 80 which included a triple-bogey six at the short 13th.
Pickin was also 11 strokes worse off than his first-round 75. Having covered the back nine – his first nine – in one-over 37, he was badly bitten on the front side of the water-filled Jack Nicklaus-designed layout.
A triple-bogey seven at the second was followed by a 10 at the par-five fourth and a nine at the long eighth. Despite a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day, it added up to an inward 49 and a total of 86.
274 – Japan (138-136)
277 – Korea (141-136)
281 – New Zealand (141-140)
281 – Singapore (137-144)
283 – Chinese Taipei (138-145)
285 – Australia (135-150)
286 – Malaysia (141-145)
291 – Thailand (139-152)
292 – Philippines (141-151)
294 – India (144-150)
298 – Indonesia (148-150); Hong Kong (145-153)
309 – Guam (157-152)
312 – Pakistan (154-158)
339 – United Arab Emirates (169-170)
345 – Mongolia (176-169)