When: 5 September 2018
What: 31st World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy
Where: Carton House, Montgomerie and O’Meara Courses, County Kildare/Dublin, Ireland
Denmark, with John Axelsen shooting 8-under 64 and Rasmus Hojgaard firing 4-under 68, posted a 12-under-par 132 to slide past host Ireland for a two-stroke first-round lead.
The Danish pair, playing the Montgomerie Course, combined to tie for the second-lowest first-round score in Eisenhower Trophy history, just one behind the record of 131 set by the USA in Turkey in 2012.
“Everything just worked today,” said Axelsen, a University of Florida sophomore, who won the Danish Amateur in 2017 and 2018. “I was going up to the ball and just feeling like this is going to be close.”
Host Ireland, playing in the first group of the morning off the second nine, made a home-course statement with a 10-under par total of 134.
Robin Dawson began with six birdies in his first 11 holes on his way to a 7-under 65 and John Murphy and Conor Purcell posted identical 3-under 69s. World No. 10 Dawson won the 2018 Irish Amateur Open and was runner-up at the Amateur and European Amateur earlier this year.
“We knew coming into the week it was going to be a big birdie fest,” said Dawson, an equine business graduate from nearby Maynooth University. “It helps drive us on every time. When you make one [birdie] you want to make another one. I think making a lot of birdies is key out here and going low.”
India and Switzerland shared third place at 9 under, followed by New Zealand and Japan in fifth at 7 under and Thailand, Spain, England, Portugal and Republic of Korea tied in seventh at 6 under.
Defending champion Australia was tied for 21st at 3 under.
Captain John Carroll, Ireland: “I’m delighted with the start we made. I couldn’t ask for any more on day one – Robin (Dawson) with his seven under and the two boys three under each. Fantastic golf. And, we’re certainly looking forward to the next few days.”
Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark: “The conditions were very good. There wasn’t a lot of wind and so, it wasn’t affecting the ball much. So, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted without the wind touching it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Conor Purcell of Ireland (whose father is a golf professional): “Some people would think there’s pressure on us, but I think any time you can play under pressure it’s somewhat a privilege to be in that position and to have all the spotlight on us. It’s good going out there and you get a clap for hitting a good shot and that just pulls us on. Once you get into the flow of things, pressure becomes non-existent. You’re just playing your game.”
Mitchell Waite of England (who was a co-runner-up in the 2018 European Amateur): “That’s a good opening round from Denmark There are so many good players here – it is the World Championships.”
Daniel Hillier of New Zealand (who was co-medalist in the 2018 U.S. Amateur on the weather worsening by Wednesday afternoon): “Windy Wellington – I should be used to it. It’s always a good challenge when the wind gets up and especially playing Montgomerie. There are a lot of fairway bunkers, so it will make it more demanding off the tee.”
- John Axelsen’s nine-hole score of 29 (front nine) was one stroke shy of the record of 28 shot by Denny McCarthy of the USA in the final round in 2014. It included seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey.
- Denmark was tied for third following the first round in Argentina in 2010 and finished with a silver medal, its only trip to the podium in the 24 previous Eisenhower Trophy competitions.
- Both Axelsen and Rayhan Thomas of India shot 64, the day’s best score. The Dane was 8 under at Montgomerie and Thomas was 9 under at the O’Meara. Those scores are one stroke off the first-round individual low score of 63 by Jason Dawes of Australia in 1994. Thomas, who lives in Dubai and was a semifinalist in the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur, has committed to play college golf at Oklahoma State. “It’s great play Monty now having that nine under – it takes the weight off the mind,” said Thomas, whose round included eight birdies, an eagle and one bogey. “We are a good team – and I am sure these boys will start firing tomorrow. I have full faith in this team. So, it’s not a surprise to see us up there on the leaderboard.”
- With the announcement today of the European Ryder Cup captain’s picks, the total number of players who have played in the Eisenhower Trophy is 12. For the European side (7), Italy’s Francesco Molinari (2002 and 2004), Spain’s Jon Rahm (2014) and Sergio Garcia (bronze medal in 1996 and 1998), Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (2006), Sweden’s Alex Noren (bronze medal in 2004) and Henrik Stenson (1998) and England’s Paul Casey (silver medal in 2000) have participated. For the USA (5), Bryson DeChambeau (gold medal in 2014), Rickie Fowler (silver medal in 2008), Phil Mickelson (silver medal in 1990), Justin Thomas (gold medal in 2012) and Tiger Woods (gold medal in 1994) have played.
- Jovan Rebula of South Africa, the winner of the Amateur, conducted by The R&A, withdrew due to an injured back. Malcolm Mitchell took an overnight flight and replaced him in the field. See related story: https://www.golfrsa.com/mitchell-replaces-rebula-in-eisenhower-team-for-sa/
- Denmark’s twins Rasmus and Nicholai Hojgaard (who, in 2018, won the European Amateur and played in the Open Championship) totaled 5-under 139, which would have placed T-12th as a team.
- The USA was T19th at 4 under with 3 under from Justin Suh and a 1 under from Cole Hammer.
- The last host nation to win the Eisenhower Trophy was the USA at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in 1980. Only 10 countries have won gold (USA, 15; Australia and Great Britain and Ireland, 4; Canada, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, France, Netherlands and Scotland, 1).
Round 2 begins Thursday at 7:45 a.m. with a two-tee start on both courses.
Spectators are encouraged to attend, and entry into Carton House for the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships. For more information, please visit igfgolf.org/watc/watc-2018/