33rd World Amateur Team Championship – Inside the Field
NUMBER OF TEAMS – 36 teams will compete in the 33rd World Amateur Team Championship.
DEFENDING CHAMPION – Italy will try to become the first team to win consecutive WATC titles since the USA did so in 2012 and 2014. Last year’s gold in the Eisenhower Trophy was Italy’s first medal in 32 championship appearances.
HOST NATION – United Arab Emirates is playing in its 11th World Amateur Team Championship. In 2022, UAE finished in 68th place. Their best team finish came in 2008 (T50).
Two players from the field played in the 2023 Masters Tournament – Matthew McClean (IRE) MC and Gordon Sargent (USA) MC.
Seven players from the field played in the 2023 U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles (Calif.) Country Club’s North Course – low amateur Gordon Sargent (USA) T39, Bastien Amat (FRA) MC, Barclay Brown (ENG) MC, Nick Dunlap (USA) MC, Matthew McClean (IRE) MC, Omar Morales (MEX) MC and Karl Vilips (AUS) MC.
Four players in this year’s field played in the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool – low amateur Christo Lamprecht (RSA) T74, Jose Luis Ballester (ESP) MC, Tiger Christensen (GER) MC and Alex Maguire (IRE) MC.
Nick Dunlap, David Ford and Gordon Sargent represented the United States in the 2023 Walker Cup at The Old Course at St Andrews.
Eight players in the field competed for Great Britain and Ireland: James Ashfield (WAL), Jack Bigham (ENG), Barclay Brown (ENG), Connor Graham (SCO), Alex Maguire (IRE), Matthew McClean (IRE), Liam Nolan (IRE) and Calum Scott (SCO).
WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING® / WAGR® (13 players in the Top 30 as of 11 Oct.)
1 – Christo Lamprecht (RSA)
2 – Gordon Sargent (USA)
4 – Nick Dunlap (USA)
5 – David Ford (USA)
14 – Christiaan Maas (RSA)
15 – Frederik Kjettrup (DEN)
16 – Yuta Sugiura (JPN)
20 – Jose Luis Ballester (ESP)
24 – Herman Wibe Sekne (NOR)
25 – Gustav Frimodt (DEN)
27 – Calum Scott (SCO)
28 – Barclay Brown (ENG)
29 – Karl Vilips (AUS)
OLDEST AND YOUNGEST
Manuel Merizalde, 44, of Columbia, is the oldest player in the field. Merizalde Padilla, a former golfer at Bringham Young University, is making his fifth appearance at the WATC. Louis Klein, of Czechia, is the youngest in the field at age 14.
Storylines – Alphabetical (By Country)
Segundo Oliva Pinto is returning for Argentina after finishing in a tie for 16th individually last year in France. Oliva Pinto, a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas, was the runner-up in the 2022 South America Amateur.
Vicente Marzilio, a senior at Texas Tech University, was a runner-up in the 2022 Latin America Amateur and finished in third in 2023.
Karl Vilips, who plays collegiate golf at Stanford University, was the gold medalist in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and qualified for the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club.
Christoph Bleier and Fabian Lang both played in the 2022 WATC in France. Bleier plays collegiate golf at Colorado State University and was the runner-up in the 2023 Mountain West Conference Championship. Lang is a three-time winner of the Austrian Match Play and won the 2022 Austrian International Amateur.
Ashton McCulloch, a junior on the Michigan State University team, began playing competitively at age 15 after playing travel hockey up until 2018. McCulloch won the 2023 Canadian Amateur and was named the 2021 Big Ten Conference freshman of the year.
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Zihang Qiu was the runner-up at the 2023 IMG Junior World Championship and Ziqin Zhou won the 2022 CGA Championship in December, the penultimate event of the China Tour season.
Carlos Ardila Conde, a two-time Colombian Amateur champion, is competing in his third WATC.
Manuel Marizalde is playing in his fifth WATC. He previously played in 1996, 1998, 2002 and 2022. A semifinalist in the 2001 U.S. Amateur Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., Marizalde was an All-American in his college days at Brigham Young University.
Filip Jakubcik, a sophomore at the University of Arizona, won the last three Czech International Amateur Championships. He was the Czech’s top finisher (T19) in last year’s WATC in France.
Gustav Frimodt, who plays collegiately at Texas Christian University, was a semifinalist in the 2023 North & South Amateur and won the 2022 Danish International Amateur.
Frederik Kjettrup won a gold medal with Denmark at the 2021 European Amateur Team Championship. Kjettrup, ranked No. 15 in WAGR®, plays collegiate golf at Florida State University.
Barclay Brown, a two-time Walker Cup participant with Great Britain & Ireland, finished fourth as an individual in the NCAA Division I Championship in May as a senior at the University of Stanford.
Elias Haavisto was the Gulf South Conference Championship individual medalist three times in his collegiate career at the University of West Florida. His 11th place WATC finish last year led Finland to its first team top-10 showing since 2000.
Bastien Amat, who plays collegiately at the University of New Mexico, qualified for the 2023 U.S. Open and made the cut at the PGA Tour’s 2023 Barracuda Championship. Amat has represented France in the European Amateur Team Championships twice.
Tiger Christensen, a junior at the University of Arizona, picked up his third collegiate win earlier this month at the Jackson T. Stephens Cup. Christensen qualified for the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and won the 2021 German International Amateur.
Jonas Baumgartner, who plays collegiate golf at Oklahoma State University, has lived in four different countries in his life (England, Germany, Austria and the USA).
Nalapon Vongjalorn is an HVAC mechanic and manager and is playing in his third Eisenhower Trophy competition.
Alejandro Villavicencio is playing in his seventh Eisenhower Trophy competition, the most of any player in the field. His family runs a restaurant chain called Los Ranchos. Villavicencio, who advanced to match play in this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, also runs a telecommunications company that services phone towers.
Captain Bibhuti Bhushan has served in the Indian Armed Forces for 35 years and was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) by the President of India. He has served as the Director General for the Indian Golf Union for six years.
Rohit Narwal won the 2023 Northern India Amateur and the 2023 Tamil Nadu Amateur.
Alex Maguire, Matthew McClean and Liam Nolan all represented Great Britain & Ireland in the 2023 Walker Cup. McClean won the 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Erin Hills and competed in the 2023 Masters Tournament and U.S. Open Championship.
Captain Matteo Delpodio, who was a member of the 2002 and 2004 Italian teams, is serving in his role for the second time after captaining the gold-medalist team for the Eisenhower Trophy last year in France.
Pietro Bovari returns for his second WATC after making the clinching par-putt on the final hole in 2022 to secure Italy’s Eisenhower Trophy win. Bovari, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, made the cut and added hole-in-one in the 2021 Omega European Masters.
Riura Matsui won the 2023 South Australia Amateur and the 2022 Japan Junior Championship.
Yuta Sugiura, the No. 16 ranked amateur in the world, plays for Nihon University and has two victories in 2023.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Seonghyeon An is one of three 14-year-olds in the field. An, a student at Bibong Middle School, won the 2023 Maekyung Amateur.
Jose Cristobal Islas reached the quarterfinals of the 2023 U.S. Amateur and won his first professional event as an amateur last January, the 2023 El Campanario Classic.
Omar Morales, a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), hit the opening tee shot in the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club. Morales earned co-champion honors at the Golf Club of Georgia Invitational on Oct. 15 for his second individual collegiate career win.
El Mehdi Fakori was one of two amateurs to make the cut in the 2023 PIF Saudi International.
Captain Reinier Saxton played for the Netherlands in the 2008 WATC and defeated Tommy Fleetwood in the final match of the 2008 Amateur Championship at Turnberry. Saxton will serve as the Dutch captain for the second time, returning all three players from their 2022 team in France.
Lars van der Vight, Netherlands’ top individual finisher (T36) in the 2022 WATC, is the 2023 Dutch National Open champion and was the low amateur at the DP World Tour’s KLM Open in May. He also won the Dutch International Amateur in 2021 and 2022.
Kazuma Kobori is the 2023 Elite Amateur Series champion. He clinched the series title after defeating South Africa’s Christiaan Maas to win the 121st Western Amateur and had top-10 finishes in this summer’s Southern Amateur and Trans-Mississippi Amateur. Kobori, who is playing in his second WATC, also won the 2023 Australian Men's Amateur
Mats Ege, Michael Mjaaseth and Herman Wibe Sekne are making their second WATC appearance after leading Norway to a fourth-place team finish last year in France and its first top-10 finish since 2000. Mjaaseth (T9), Sekne (T16) and Ege (T23) all finished in the top 25 individually in 2022.
Mjaaseth, who plays collegiate golf at Arizona State University, was named the Pacific-12 Conference freshman of the year in 2023. Sekne, a senior at Purdue University, had seven top-10 finishes in his junior season, including a win at the Boilermaker Invitational, becoming the program’s first All-American in 21 years.
Connor Graham and Calum Scott represented Great Britain & Ireland in the 2023 Walker Cup at St Andrews. Graham, the 2023 Scottish Open champion, was a member of the victorious European team at the Junior Ryder Cup last month in Rome. Scott, a junior at Texas Tech University, placed third in the 2023 St Andrews Links Trophy. His brother, Sandy, represented Scotland in the 2018 WATC in Ireland.
Ryan Ang, who is competing in his second WATC, was the only Singaporean to Monday qualify for the DP World Tour’s Singapore Classic in 2023. He birdied his last two holes in the second round to make the 36-hole cut on the number.
Christo Lamprecht, the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, won the 2023 Amateur Championship at Hillside and was the low amateur at the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Lamprecht, who plays collegiate golf at Georgia Tech University, will play in the 2024 Masters Tournament and 2024 U.S. Open Championship.
Christiaan Maas, ranked No. 14 in WAGR®, was the runner-up in the 2023 Western Amateur and won the 2022 English Open Stroke Play (Brabazon Trophy) by five strokes, becoming the sixth South African to win the coveted title.
Jose Luis Ballester Barrio, who plays collegiate golf at Arizona State University, won the 2023 European Amateur Championship and played in the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Tobias Jonsson, the playing captain for Sweden, was the low individual scorer for last year’s Eisenhower Trophy with a score of 269, including a third-round 64. Jonsson led Sweden to a silver-medal finish, the Swedes’ best team finish since 1996.
Daniel Svard won the 2023 Big Ten Conference Championship as a freshman at Northwestern University. At 6-feet-5-inches, he often gets mistaken for Northwestern basketball players on campus.
Maximilien Sturdza was the only amateur to make the cut in the 2022 Omega European Masters. Sturdza, a graduate senior at Florida Atlantic University, swings right-handed but putts left-handed.
Chuan-Tai Lin was a member of the victorious Asia-Pacific team in the 2023 Bonallack Trophy. Lin, a senior at the University of Washington, finished in a tie for third in the 2023 Pacific Coast Amateur.
Ashita Piamkulvanich was Thailand’s top finisher (T53) last year in France, which included a career-low 64 during the third round at Le Golf National. Piamkulvanich won the 2022 Thailand Amateur Open and Thailand Amateur Match Play.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Ahmad Skaik is making his fourth consecutive WATC start for the UAE. Skaik, the UAE’s top amateur golfer, has played in the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship three times, which was previously held at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. A three-time UAE Presidents Cup champion, he also competed in the 2023 Abu Dhabi Challenge at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The American trio of Nick Dunlap, David Ford and Gordon Sargent were all a part of the victorious 2023 USA Walker Cup team that defeated Great Britain & Ireland last month at The Old Course at St Andrews.
Dunlap won the 123rd U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club in August, joining Tiger Woods as the only players to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur. Sargent, the low amateur at the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club, was awarded the Mark H. McCormack medal in August as the world’s top-ranked amateur.
James Ashfield, a member of the 2023 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, won the 2022 Welsh Amateur and finished in a tie for second in the 2023 European Amateur Championship.
Tafadzwa Nyamukondiwa, who plays collegiate golf at Drexel University, has an elephant named Cookie back home in Zimbabwe that he used to ride to school.
The IGF will offer daily reports/notes/quotes for distribution and posting on the IGF website and will also offer complimentary high-resolution photographs during the World Amateur Team Championships for editorial use that can be downloaded here.
Contact Joey Geske for more information regarding the World Amateur Team Championships:
Joey Geske, firstname.lastname@example.org; +1 651.328.3000