When: 6 September 2018
What: 31st World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy
Where: Carton House, Montgomerie and O’Meara Courses, County Kildare/Dublin, Ireland
New Zealand set a record for lowest second-round score to take the top spot of a tightly packed leader board at 20-under-par 270 through 36 holes by one stroke over Denmark, Thailand and host Ireland.
“It’s fantastic,” said New Zealand captain Bryce Hamer. “We always know that the guys representing New Zealand are going to give it their best anyway. And, the score looks after itself. So, the guys do themselves proud and everyone else proud.
“Watching them through the day, to be honest I think they left a few out there as well. But, the key stuff, 4 to 6 feet, they made a few of those.”
The Kiwis posted a 13-under 131 on the par-72 Montgomerie Course with a 65 from Daniel Hillier, who holed a birdie putt on the 18th for the outright team lead, and a 66 from Denzel Ieremia to jump from fifth place to the lead.
“I saw there was a scoreboard on 16,” said Hillier, who shared medallist honors in the 2018 U.S. Amateur. “I didn’t even want to look at it. I just thought I’ve got a job to do and I’ve got to do it. And I managed to finish strong, which was nice.”
Thailand had earlier posted the same score of 131 on the ‘Monty’ with a 65 from World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR™) No. 13. Sadom Kaewkanjana and a 66 from Witchavanon Chothirunrungrueng.
After a morning of rain, temperatures rose and scoring conditions improved, producing a slew of under-par scores and significant changes on the scoreboard.
Playing the par-73 O’Meara Course, first-round leader Denmark posted a 7-under 139 (69 from John Axelsen and identical 70s from identical twins Ramus and World No. 7 Nicolai Hjogaard). Home side Ireland posted 9-under 133 on a 68 from No. 10 Robin Dawson and a 69 from Conor Purcell.
Also making significant moves on the scoreboard with matching 13-under scores of 133 were Canada (in fifth at 18 under with a 66 from Hugo Bernard and a 67 from Joey Savoie) and the USA (tied for sixth at 17 under on a 66 from No. 3 Collin Morikawa and a 67 from No. 2 Justin Suh). Spain is tied with the USA and Italy shares eighth with Sweden at 16 under and Austria is 10th at 16 under.
Denzel Ieremia, of New Zealand: “It’s halfway through the tournament, so it’s nice to be in front. It’s a good position. I am confident in our team. We will go through our process and see what happens.”
New Zealand captain Bryce Hamer (who is also the team’s physiotherapist): “It’s a cliché but the team is huge. They all support each other, they get on really well and have a strong culture. I think it’s true to New Zealand that they are very humble guys and they understand what it’s all about.”
John Carroll, Ireland Team Captain: “To follow up yesterday’s score was fantastic. We’re well in the hunt so that’s all that matters at this stage.”
Conor Purcell, of Ireland: “Today was very solid, I had one little hiccup on 15. That was my only mistake and I think that was my only missed green. Going out today you could have it in your head that O’Meara should be the easier of the two courses and there should be more birdies, and when you start making a few pars when you think you should make birdies you can get a bit down but overall I think we did a good job of keeping the spirits up.”
Stefano Mazzoli, of Italy (who shot 64 after an opening 79): “It was 29 on the front nine but I actually birdied on 10 so I had eight birdies in a row. It’s great to come back like this after yesterday – that was a tough day for me. So, yesterday everything was tough and today everything seemed to come easy. I honestly had a chance to go a couple more under, but I got what counts!”
Ryan Lumsden, of Scotland (on the birdie challenge from his coach): “Ian told me I had to make eight birdies today. I got up to seven through 16 holes and missed a putt for my eighth on 17. I had a little 10-foot putt on the last for birdie and knew I had to make it so I hit it a little firm because I really wanted to make it. Luckily, it rattled the back of the cup and dropped.”
Niklas Regner, of Austria: “It is definitely easier for Austria to compete here at the World Amateur Team Championships rather than at the European Team as Austria is a little country. It’s easier to find three good players than six good players.”
- The 131 of New Zealand and Thailand surpassed the previous-best second-round low of 132 by Sweden in 2006 and Australia in 2016.
- On the O’Meara Course, the best move of the day in mostly rainy conditions came from Italy, which had finished T-23 after the first round but stood tied for eighth through 36 holes. Propelled by a 9-under 64 from Stefano Mazzoli and a 4-under 69 from Lorenzo Filippo Scalise, they posted a 13-under 133 that put them at the top of the leader board as the first-day contenders teed off in the second round. Mazzoli, the 2015 European Amateur champion, made a 15-stroke improvement after a first-round 79.
- Mazzoli, a senior at Texas Christian University, logged eight birdies in nine holes on the front nine for an 8-under 29, which is one off the WATC mark of 28 set by Denny McCarthy of the USA in 2014 and was matched by John Axelsen of Denmark in the first round. His 64 was the best round of the day.
- Japan’s Keita Nakajima, who injured his hand/wrist late in his first round and could not finish, withdrew before the second round.
- Serbia, playing in its fourth Eisenhower, produced its best all-time round on the strength of a 6-under 67 from Branimir Gudelj and a 5-under 68 from Mihailo Dimitrijevic for an 11-under-135. Gudelj has broken his record for his country’s lowest Eisenhower score, which was 73 in the first round in 2016. Dimitrijevic was a Serbian national team member in football and tennis before taking up golf in 2010. They stand in 20th place. The Serbs previous best finish was T-54 in 2012.
- Ayoub Id Omar, of Morocco, tied the low individual score for his nation with a 68. Previously in the third round in Mexico in 2016, Yassine Touhami also fired a 68.
Round 3 begins Friday at 7:45 a.m. off two tees on both courses. The leading teams will play the Montgomerie Course.
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/