France, USA Share Lead in Abu Dhabi After Round 1
33rd Eisenhower Trophy: 18-21 Oct. 2023
Abu Dhabi Golf Club (National Course), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates @OlympicGolf | #WATC2023 | #Rolex |igfgolf.org/watc
When: 18 October 2023
What: 33rd World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy
Where: Abu Dhabi Golf Club (National Course), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
France and the United States of America stand atop a crowded leader board after the first round of the 33rd World Amateur Team Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Wednesday. Fueled by a pair of 5-under 67’s from 15-year-old Hugo Le Goff and world No. 2 Gordon Sargent, France and the USA hold a one-stroke lead over The Netherlands.
Sargent, the lone returning American from last year’s bronze-medal finish, shot one of four bogey-free rounds on Wednesday.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” said Sargent, the 2023 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner. “I hit it well all day. I was just trying to keep the ball in front of me and keep giving myself chances. It’s super nice not to have a bunch of stress on yourself. I just stayed focused on playing good golf and helping the team out.”
David Ford, who secured the clinching point for the USA in last month’s Walker Cup Match on the Old Course at St Andrews, added a 4-under 68 with seven birdies.
“The biggest strength for David was that he came back after a difficult start, being 2-over after three holes,” said USA Captain Mark Newell. “He made a couple of stroke-saving shots at [holes] two and nine and then he just turned it on.”
All three of France’s players carded rounds of 68 or better in the early wave of the morning. Teammates Bastien Amat (counting) and Paul Beauvy (non-counting) shot a pair of 68’s behind Le Goff’s 67 leading France to a 9-under total of 135 to match the Americans.
Only two of each team’s best three scores count toward the total.
“We are happy with the strong start,” said French Captain Antoine Delon. “It’s difficult to play in this temperature, but we had good preparation, the course is perfect, and the players were very solid. We had no faults. No double bogeys on the team and so many birdies and good putting.”
Le Goff, the fifth-youngest player in the field, played the final three holes in 3 under-par, highlighted by a chip-in eagle on the par-5 eighth.
“I sliced my 3-wood 10 meters right of the green and then hit a 60-degree shot and it rolled and went in,” said Le Goff. “Today, my chipping was really good. I had some incredible short game.”
The Netherlands’ Benjamin Reuter had the individual low round of the day, a 6-under 66, and teammate Jack Ingham added a 70 to position the Dutch in solo third place. Reuter, who plays at Georgia Tech University, registered three birdies and an eagle in his final seven holes.
Gustav Frimodt (3-under 69) and Jacob Olesen (4-under 68) led an afternoon charge for Denmark, who shares fourth with Argentina, Australia and England, two strokes behind the leaders.
“They stayed patient and went about what they had to do,” said Denmark Captain Martin Raal Kold. “We’re a couple of shots from where we hope to be but there’s a lot of golf still to be played.”
The host country United Arab Emirates stands in 35th place after Round 1.
Captain Mark Newell, USA: “The team should feel great. They all played really well. They rebounded every time there was a setback and fought through the heat to put themselves in a great position after day one.”
Gordon Sargent, USA: “Last year in Paris, I didn’t play very well the first three days, and we didn’t really have all three guys in it every single day, so it’s nice to see all three guys playing well and making birdies out there and keeping ourselves right there near the top after day one.”
Bastien Amat, France: “The first round is important to show how hot our country is at the moment. I saw on the board on 18 that my teammates were playing good as well, so it’s really good to show that we’re ready to fight against these other countries.”
Segundo Oliva Pinto, Argentina: “Once you’re behind the 8-ball, it’s really hard to make your way back to the top, so starting off with a good first round is great.”
Pietro Bovari, Italy: “I told [my teammates] what I gathered from last years’ experience during the first few days, which was the stay patient. It’s a long tournament. I tried to not be preachy because they’re great players and they know what to do. On top of that I just reiterated how special the environment is and the tournament, which they have seen now from the opening ceremony and everything.”
- Through his WATC start on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Gordon Sargent became the first player to earn PGA TOUR membership via PGA TOUR University Accelerated after achieving the 20-point threshold. Sargent is a junior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
- France’s Bastien Amat, and the USA’s Sargent and Nick Dunlap, are three of seven players in the field who competed in the 2023 U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles (Calif.) Country Club.
- No. 1-ranked amateur Christo Lamprecht, of South Africa, shot a 71 with three birdies and two bogeys. Altin van der Merwe (69) and Christiaan Maas (70) positioned South Africa in a tie for 10th at 5-under 139.
- Temperatures reached 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) with a heat index of 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) during Round 1.
- Twenty-three of the 36 teams finished under par on Day 1.
- A total of 46 players in the field competed in the 2022 WATC in France. Colombia, Netherlands and Norway are fielding the same three players as last year.
- Ahmad Skaik, of the United Arab Emirates, hit the opening tee shot of the championship on Wednesday morning. Skaik is competing in his fourth WATC.
- Zimbabwe’s Tafadzwa Nyamukondiwa carded a bogey-free 2-under 70. Nyamukondiwa, a senior at Drexel University, has an elephant named Cookie back home in Zimbabwe that he used to ride to school.
- Guatemala’s Alejandro Villavicencio is playing for the seventh time, most of any player in the field.
Round 2 begins Thursday at 6:30 a.m. with a two-tee start on the National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
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