Canada, Sweden and Switzerland share the first-round lead at 10 under par at the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
Canada’s Corey Conners, the 2014 U.S. Amateur runner-up, and Taylor Pendrith, who were college teammates and roommates, tallied 66 and 68 as Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult fired the day’s lowest round, a 7-under-par 65, to go along with Hannes Ronneblad’s 69 and Switzerland received a 66 from Mathias Eggenberger and a 68 from Benjamin Rusch to tie at 134 at Karuizawa’s par-72 Iriyama Course.
“We put in some really good preparation,” said Canadian captain Graham Hill. “Derek Ingram, our coach, works very closely with all the guys here. I don’t think we’re surprised that we played well here today. We put the preparation and the hard work in so this isn’t a surprise to us. We’re just taking it day by day and we’re happy with the start.”
Conners, who shared 2014 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors with Pendrith at Kent State University in the USA, exploded for five birdies on his opening nine and finished with seven against one bogey en route to a 6-under 66. Pendrith, who was 6-under through 16 holes, bogeyed the last two holes for a 4-under 68. Adam Svensson shot a non-counting 3-under 69.
“We’re not going to try to do anything crazy. We’re just going to stick to our game plan and try to play to our strengths and if we happen to shoot 29-under-par that would be pretty sweet, but we’re just going to stick to our game plan,” said Conners, referring to the winning score in the recently-completed Women’s World Amateur Team Championship at Karuizawa. In that competition, Australia came from behind to defeat Canada by two strokes.
Sweden’s Kinhult posted seven birdies on bogey-free card. The 18-year-old won the silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games two weeks ago in China then flew home to play in the Jacques Leglise Trophy in Sweden and then flew to Japan.
“Overall, it was a solid round from tee to green,” said Kinhult. “I was never in trouble and that was the key. It’s always nice to be in the mix. You want to make sure you stay in your position until the last day.”
The long-hitting Ronneblad registered four birdies against a lone bogey. Teammate Adam Blomme shot a non-counting 72.
“It is a very good start,” said Swedish captain Bjorn Engstrom. “But, it is just one day and we have a long way. If you have been in this situation before, you can calm down after the first round. All of the players have the potential for low scores, all of them.”
Eggenberger, who represented the continent of Europe at the St. Andrews Trophy in Sweden and attends Stirling University in Scotland, carded an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys. Rusch tallied six birdies and two bogeys in his round. Marco Iten shot a non-counting 72.
“The guys played fantastically,” said Swiss captain Toni Matt. “It was very steady with very good feeling and they did a beautiful job.”
“It’s always nice to see yourself as well as the team on top of the leaderboard,” Eggenberger said. “I played -6 today, which was quite solid. I’m happy with my performance and to help the team.”
Denmark shot 9-under 133 at the par-71 Oshitate Course to share fourth place with Argentina, which shot 135 at Iriyama. England and the USA are tied for sixth at 8-under, both at Iriyama. Puerto Rico and the Czech Republic posted 7-under at Iriyama and Oshitate, respectively to hold joint eighth place. At 6-under were: Chile (Oshitate) and Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Scotland and Spain (Iriyama).
Thirty-seven teams broke par in the first round and 65 sub-par scores counted, breaking the record of 42 in 2004.
The World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 137 national governing bodies in 131 countries. The competition, which is being held for the 26th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa.
This year’s event is hosted by the Japan Golf Association. The teams play for the Eisenhower Trophy. The IGF is the international federation for golf for the International Olympic Committee and will conduct the Olympic golf competition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In each round, the total of the two lowest scores from each team constitutes the team score for the round. The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship.
Teams which played the Iriyama Course in the first round will play the Oshitate Course in the second round and vice versa.