Turkey’s Turn On Golf’s Global Stage
Location: Antalya, Turkey
The 2012 World Amateur Team Championships in Antalya,Turkey, near the Mediterranean Sea, made the most of their opportunity at the center stage of global golf for three weeks in late September and early October.
With golf’s return in 2016 to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio looming, a record 53 women’s teams played in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship for the Espirito Santo Trophy at Gloria Golf Club’s Old and New Courses in September. Then, a record 72 men’s teams played in the World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy at Antalya Golf Club and Cornelia Golf Club.
For perspective, these three venues are located less than 300 miles from Istanbul, which has roots into the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. While the Turks are long on history, their golf pedigree is considerably shorter.
The Turkish Golf Federation, which was founded in 1996, successfully bid upon and then, four years later, conducted these two international golf competitions for more than 350 players. Keep in mind that Turkey was participating in these championships for just the sixth time!
The host nation has only 18 golf courses (14 of them in the coastal area near Antalya) and just 6,000 registered players. However, nearly 500,000 rounds of golf are played annually in Turkey, which has become a popular golf destination for the game’s enthusiasts from the United Kingdom and central Europe.
Granted, the Republic of Korea repeated as champion in the contest for the Espirito Santo Trophy and the USA won the Eisenhower Trophy competition for the 14th time with a record performance, but the worldwide spread of the game was also in full view. Seven nations made their debut in the Espirito Santo competition
Lativa was second after the first day of the WWATC and finished T21st.
Slovakia, who had not finished better than T44th in the WATC in seven previous appearances, placed 27th in the 2012 competition.
Seven nations made their debut in the Espirito Santo competition and six played for the first time in the Eisenhower Trophy competition.
If the 2012 WATCs in Turkey are any indication, golf’s global footprint is expanding rapidly.
USA Wins Eisenhower Trophy For 14th Time
Antalya, Turkey (7 October) – With a record-setting score of 24-under-par 404, the USA won the weather-shortened 2012 World Amateur Team Championship (WATC) by five strokes over Mexico at the par-71 Antalya Golf Club and claimed the Eisenhower Trophy for the 14th time.
Steven Fox, of Hendersonville, Tenn., the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion and Chris Williams, of Moscow, Idaho, who is No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), both shot 2-under-par 69 for the USA. Justin Thomas, of Goshen, Ky., posted a non-counting 1-under 70.
“It has been since 2004 that the trophy has found its way to the USA and it is great to have it coming back to our shores,” said USA captain Jim Vernon, a past president of the USGA. “They are three guys who bonded well and played golf as a team.”
The previous low total for 54 holes was 407 by the USA in Puerto Rico in the 2004 WATC, which was also shortened to 54 holes because of weather.
“It’s fun to win as an individual,” said Williams, a University of Washington senior who won the 2012 Western Amateur. “But to win as a team is awesome and it doesn’t get any better than doing it as a representative of the USA.”
Despite a strong challenge from Mexico, which finished second at 19-under 409, led by Sebastian Vazquez’s individual low total of 15-under 199, the USA led from start to finish, setting records along the way.
The Mexican team, playing in its 26th WATC, won its first medal.
“We had good expectations this week but this is a dream come true,” said Mexican captain Jorge Coughlan. “I played in this a long time ago  and being captain is very satisfying.
This is Sebastian’s last amateur tournament and there is no better way to go out than winning the World Amateur. He is going to be a heck of a professional.”
The Americans, in winning their 24th medal in the 28 Eisenhower Trophy competitions, broke team marks for lowest 18-, 36- and 54-hole scores.
“I would go back to the first round where Chris shot 64 and Justin shot 67 and we were 13 under,” said Fox of the key point in the championship. “We just built from there.”
Four strokes behind Mexico at 15-under-par 413 as three-way bronze medalists are: defending champion France, Germany and the Republic of Korea.
Canada and Norway tied for sixth at 417, with England in eighth at 418, and Japan, Venezuela and Spain tied for ninth at 419.
Republic of Korea Repeats As Espirito Santo Champion
The Republic of Korea Women’s team wins consecutive titles
Antalya, Turkey (30 September) – The Republic of Korea, with a total of 13-under-par 563, won the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (WWATC) at Gloria Golf Club, becoming the first team in 22 years to capture consecutive titles.
“We were struggling yesterday and we had a long conversation last night,” said Korean coach Hyung-Mo Kang. “The beginning did not go so well but they ramped it up at the end. I am very happy.”
The last team to win in consecutive Espirito Santo Trophy competitions was the USA in 1998 and 1990. Korea won the WWATC in 2010 in Argentina with a record-setting score of 546. The 2012 championship was its third gold medal as it took the title in 1996 as well.
Korea withstood a 7-under-par charge from Germany, which finished second, taking the silver medal at 566. Finland, which also shot 7-under for the day, shared the bronze medal with Australia at 567.
It is Germany’s second medal all-time and first since tying for silver in 1998. Finland won its first medal in the competition and Australia took its first medal since winning gold in 2002.
“We play them annually at the Queen Sikirit Cup and every year we are chasing them,” New Zealand captain Libby Steele said. “They have fresh players every time and they just keep producing good golfers. It shows when you see them on all the Tours around the world.”
Korea posted a 2-under-par 70 on Gloria’s Old Course from Kyu-Jung Baek and an even-par 72 from Hyo-Joo Kim, No. 3 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), who also won the Suntory Ladies Open on the Japan LPGA Tour in June with a final-round 61 and finished fourth at the Evian Masters in 2012. Min-Sun Kim shot a non-counting 74.
“Last night, we tried to forget about our score, forget about how many shots we were leading by and who was trying to catch us,” Baek said. “We just tried to focus on playing well.”
Spain and New Zealand tied for fifth at 568. The rest of the top 10 included: Canada seventh at 569, the USA eighth at 570, France ninth at 572 and Japan 10th at 574.
Although there is no official recognition, Lydia Ko, 15, of New Zealand, No.1 in the WAGR, set a championship mark for lowest individual score at 14-under-par 274. Ko, the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and winner of the LPGA Tour’s Canadian Open, broke the mark set in 2010 by Korea’s Jung-Eun Han at 275.
Sweden’s record of 24 consecutive Espirito Santo Trophy competitions with a place in the top 10 ended as they tied for 13th.