Brooke Henderson and Brittany Marchand combined for 9-under-par 135 as Canada held off defending champion Republic of Korea and maintained a two-stroke lead through 54 holes at the 2014 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
“We had some super-solid play out there,” said Canadian captain Liz Hoffman. “But, we left a few shots out there. We were focused and had a strong start.”
Henderson, 16, No. 2 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WWAGR), fired a 6-under-par 66 and Marchand, 22, added a 69 to give the Canadians a three-round total of 23-under-par 409, second-best in history. Augusta James shot a non-counting 72.
“It is awesome to play with such skilled players who push you to the next level,” said Henderson, who won a Canadian women’s professional event in 2012 at age 14. “We are excited to be in the position we are in at such a great golf course in Japan.”
The round was suspended because of dangerous weather at 3:27 p.m. with only Canada, Japan and Korea still on the course. Play resumed at 5:16 p.m., following a delay of one hour and 39 minutes.
“There was some great competition out there,” Marchand said of playing with the Koreans and Japanese. “We pushed them and they pushed us.”
Two-time defending champion Korea received a 66 from Hye-Jin Choi and a 68 from Gyeol Park to pass Japan and finish in second position at 21-under 411.
Even with a completely new squad from the 2010 and 2012 winners, Korea is attempting to become the first team to capture three consecutive Espirito Santo Trophy competitions since the USA in 1980, 1982 and 1984.
“We tried hard and we putted better today and our irons were very good,” said Korean captain Se-Hoon Chang. “It will be really interesting tomorrow. This event has such good players. We hope to defend the trophy, but you never know.”
Korea’s third-round 134 ties for the lowest in WWATC annals and was matched by Australia.
The Australians climbed to fourth place at 16-under 416 fueled by Minjee Lee’s bogey-free 8-under-par 64, which is the 2014 WWATC’s lowest individual score and the second-best in history. Teammate Su Oh posted a 70.
Host Japan is third, six strokes behind Canada at 415. Spain is fifth at 417 and Denmark and USA are tied for 6th after 8-under rounds of 136 at 418. Germany and Sweden share 8th place at 419 and England and Mexico are tied for 10th at 420.
“I holed more putts today than I did the last two days,” said Lee, who tied for 22nd at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. “I wasn’t hitting it close but if it was inside 15 feet, I usually made it.”
“She was superb but you could see it coming,” said Australian captain Matt Cutler of Lee, who is No. 1 in the WWAGR™ and the winner of the 2014 Mark H. McCormack Medal. “It’s an amazing round. She was flawless today.”
He was realistic about his team’s chances of overtaking the leaders.
“Our target is to go lower than we did today. We don’t want to put a number on it,” said Cutler. “Whoever is going to win is going to be playing well.”
“Our goal today was to go as low as possible,” said Lee, “Tomorrow, we will just have to play our best to see if we can catch up. That’s all we can do.”
The Women’s 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 Espirito Santo 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.
Poland’s Nastasia Kossacky scored a hole-in-one on the 138-yard seventh hole on the Iriyama Course en route to a 4-under-par 68.
For the final round, the top half of team scoring will play the Iriyama Course and the other half will play Oshitate.