Australia Records 19-Stroke Victory to Win Fourth World Amateur Team Championship
Cameron Davis and Curtis Luck each shot 3-under 68s and Australia tied the 72-hole scoring record in winning their fourth World Amateur Team Championship (WATC) at the par-71, 6,771-yard/6,187-meter Mayakoba El Camaleon Golf Club. The Australians won by 19 strokes to claim the Eisenhower Trophy for the first time since 1996.
“It’s great for the game of golf back home,” said Australian captain Matt Cutler. “It started two years ago when the women won the Espirito Santo (Trophy). We got a taste of competing and winning internationally. They executed the plan perfectly this week. They had a determination to get it done.”
The Australians, who also won World Amateur Team titles in 1958 and 1966, posted a record score of 38-under-par 534, tying the total established by the USA in 2014. Their victory margin was the third-largest in championship history.
England won the silver medal at 553, behind a final-round 6-under 136. Austria and Ireland shared the bronze medal and were one stroke back at 554.Australia’s Davis, the lone player in the field to shoot all four rounds in the 60s despite the hot and humid conditions, turned in the lowest individual score at 17-under 269. He birdied three consecutive holes on the inward nine and had six during the final round.
“This is by far the best I have played in such a big tournament,” said Davis, who finished second in both the Asia-Pacific Amateur and Australian Amateur last year. “It was just an honor to be in this tournament in the first place and representing my country, but to come away with a win is pretty special.”
Luck, the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion, followed Friday’s sparkling 9-under 63 at the par-72, 6,888-yard/6,386-meter Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club with six birdies and three bogeys during his fourth round. He finished at 15-under overall after posting two non-counting scores in the opening two rounds, as only two of the three-man team scores are used toward the total each day.
“We came out with a pretty good strategy around both courses,” said Luck, who also captured this year’s Western Australian Open and is No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. “We did a really good job in the practice rounds of setting out where the pins would be and fortunately we pretty much got them all right. We did things extremely professionally.”
England registered its best finish in a WATC after tying for sixth in 2006 and 2014. Alfie Plant, who won the 2016 Lytham Trophy and was last year’s English Amateur runner-up, fired a 5-under 66 and holed a 9-foot birdie putt at the par-4 18th to vault his team into second place. Jamie Bower added a 1-under 70.
“Once I knew I had to make the putt for birdie, I just went through my routine to make sure you make the best putt you can, and it just went in,” said Plant, who made seven birdies on the day. “It’s been a great week, we’ve recorded our highest finish in the event as a team, and I’m playing good golf as well. It’s great to get up on the stage for a medal.”
Added English captain Kevin Tucker, “We’re absolutely delighted, the good thing is that all three players have contributed twice. Alfie’s done a great job with the two low scores, and Jamie and Scott (Gregory) have both produced twice. It’s the first time England has medalled, we’re over the moon.”
Austria also earned a medal for the first time as their best performance was tie for fifth in 2002. Matthias Schwab, who is No. 5 in the WAGR™, birdied the last three holes for a 4-under 67, while teammate Markus Maukner chipped in with a 70. Schwab set up his birdie at No. 16 with a 7-iron, struck a 54-degree sand wedge to within 15 feet at the next hole and sank a 10-foot putt at No. 18.
“My two teammates had the same goals, just try to shoot the best they can,” said Schwab, who tied for third at this year’s NCAA Championship as a member of the Vanderbilt University team. “Everyone brought their A game or close to their A game, and that’s reason enough for us to be in the top four. The goal is to make a medal or at least fight for one.”
Ireland slipped from second into a tie for third due to the squad’s difficulties on the final hole, but still captured their first WATC medal. Jack Hume, a member of the winning 2015 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team, was bitten by a double bogey after earlier making six consecutive birdies on the outward nine. Hume settled for a 3-under 69. Stuart Grehan, who had a 1-over 72, and Paul McBride, who had a non-counting 73, made bogeys on the closing hole.
Victor Hovland fired a 6-under 65, the lowest round of the championship at Mayakoba El Camaleon, and playing captain Kristoffer Ventura added a 71 as Norway was fifth at 17-under 555. The team’s previous best finish was a tie for sixth in 2012.
“I’m pretty satisfied, said Hovland, who carded a bogey-free round. “I knew we had to try and shoot some low scores out there to try and win a medal. It was a good time to contribute a score to the team. It means a lot for us to do well.”
New Zealand and the USA tied for sixth at 557. Ryan Chisnall, of New Zealand, shot a 68 after scoring in the mid-70s in the first three rounds, while teammate Luke Toomey had a 70. Chisnall, who was the co-medalist at the 2015 Amateur Championship at Carnoustie, holed birdie putts of 25- and 20-feet at Nos. 16 and 17, respectively.“We really wanted to get on the podium this week, so the last three holes were really important,” said Chisnall, who finished third at the Mexican Amateur in May. “It was very pleasing for me. It’s a big event and very important for our nation.”
The USA struggled to an even-par 142 and failed to medal in this championship for the first time since 1998 when the team was seventh. Brad Dalke, last month’s U.S. Amateur runner-up, had a 70, while Stanford University All-American Maverick McNealy shot a 72. Scottie Scheffler, a junior at the University of Texas, posted a non-counting 73.“It was a difficult day for all of them,” said USA captain Paul Caruso. “I guess it is unusual that that happens and all three of them did not have their best today.”
Poland was eighth for its first top-10 WATC finish. Adrian Meronk, who is a playing captain, carded a 69, his third round in the 60s during the championship. Mateuz Gradecki had a 72. The two players, who were teammates at East Tennessee State University, competed in their third WATC together.
Mexico, the host nation, tied for 16th at 564. Alvaro Ortiz, a junior at the University of Arkansas, and Isidro Benitez, each shot an even-par 71.Twenty-six of the 71 teams had 72-hole scores under par. The field recorded 35 sub-par individual counted scores in the fourth round.
The WATC is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 147 national governing bodies in 141 countries and 22 professional members.
The competition, which is being held for the 30th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe-Africa. This year’s event is being hosted by the Mexican Golf Federation. The teams will play for the Eisenhower Trophy.