Sweden Passes Japan for Third-Round Lead, Italy and USA Also One Stroke Behind
Conducted by the International Golf Federation Hosted by the French Golf Federation #WATC2022 | igfgolf.org/watc/watc-2022 | #IGFgolf
When: 2 September 2022
What: 32nd World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy
Where: Le Golf National (Albatross) and Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche (Red), Paris, France
Sweden, powered by an 8-under-par 64 from Tobias Jonsson and a 6-under-par 66 from Ludvig Aberg, passed Japan, who led after Rounds 1 and 2, to claim the lead at 23-under-par 407 after three rounds of the 32nd World Amateur Team Championship at Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche.
“We won’t win the World Championship with the brake on,” said Swedish coach Jonnie Eriksson about Saturday’s final round at Le Golf National. “We need to do our absolute best and hope for some stuff to go our way. There are seven or eight teams in the running. It is going to be awesome tomorrow.”
The Swedes climbed 10 places on the leaderboard based on their 14-under 130 in the third round, which is the second-best team score in Round 3 in Eisenhower Trophy history. The USA set the mark of 128 in Japan in 2014 fueled by Bryson DeChambeau’s championship-record 61.
Entering the final round at Le Golf National, the site of the 2018 Ryder Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games, Sweden is one stroke ahead of first- and second-round leader Japan, Italy and the United States of America. The hosts from France trail by two strokes in fifth place.
“We decided to be very aggressive today because we were a few shots back,” Jonsson said. “I went for it today and I played solid from the start.” The Mercer University junior shared the low round of the day honors with Ashita Piamkulvanich of Thailand, who shot a bogey-free 7-under 64 at Le Golf National.
Italy, which held solo second place at the start of day, drew a 3-under 69 from Pietro Bovari and a 2-under 70 from 2022 Open Championship low amateur Filippo Celli.
“We didn’t play our best to be honest,” said Italian Captain Matteo Delpodio. “It has been a tough day. We had to save a lot of pars. Celli was good on the back nine, but he didn’t play his best golf but was able to manage a good score. It is quite good because there is room for improvement, and we know that tomorrow we have to go low to bring home this championship.”
Japan, which held a five-stroke advantage at the midway point, surrendered its lead because it could not contend with Sweden’s low scoring surge.
Taiga Semikawa posted a 3-under 69 but World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® No. 1 Keita Nakajima’s 3-over 75 was a counting score.
“I think playing with the big lead on the first day and then a big lead after the second day, there was always going to be a tough day,” Gareth Jones, Japan’s Captain. “Hopefully, it’s Day 3 that’s the tough day and not Day 4. You never want to defend the lead. You can’t do that. I think today’s a lesson for the lads that we’ve got to keep playing because there are great players out here.”
The USA combined a 4-under from Michael Thorbjornsen with a 3-under from Austin Greaser to put themselves back into contention and tossed out a 1-under from Gordon Sargent.
“They drove it beautifully,” said USA Captain Diana Murphy. “We struggled with the greens but in terms of their off-the-tee play, it was really impressive. I’d say it was our strongest day. The greens got us today, but they found a deep composed spirit again. We are here to give this a really good fight. We’d love to go home with the Eisenhower Trophy.”
Completing the top 10, Spain holds sixth place followed by Norway in seventh, Argentina in eighth, Wales in ninth and fast-moving Austria in 10th.
Jonnie Eriksson, Sweden Coach: “The first day Ludvig (Aberg) wasn’t his usual Ludvig off the tee. Today, he played the way I know him. He was just being Ludvig.”
“They were good off the tee. If you are really good and straight off the tee here, it offers a lot of opportunities. Their wedges were great, and we talked about being much more aggressive in this round than we had in the others.”
Captain Matteo Delpodio, Italy: “We are focused on performance because it is the world championship, and a lot of best players are competing here. We cannot think too much about the results. There are so many teams within very few shots, so it means we have to focus just on our game make birdies on every single hole and see what happens.”
Captain Gareth Jones, Japan: “There’s probably eight or nine teams who are really within close striking distance in this format that can change in an instant. We have got to play our best golf tomorrow.”
“Even par for us around here is a tough day, a disappointing day. Taiga has kept us in the golf tournament. I think if you told us we’d be in the top 2 of 3 going into the final round, would we be happy? Absolutely. One from the lead is an awesome opportunity for the boys. Hopefully, we will make the most of that.”
Michael Thorbjornsen, USA: “For the first time this week, I started hitting the ball well and hitting my driver well. I hit a lot of greens, but I shot 4 under with 33 putts and that means you aren’t putting well. There was something about the greens I couldn’t figure out but I’m hitting the ball well and I’ll always take that. It gives me confidence for tomorrow.”
- Sweden will attempt to join the USA as the only nations to win both the men’s and women’s competitions in the same year. The last time it happened was in France in 1994 as the USA won both golds, which they also accomplished in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1980 and 1982. Sweden won the 2022 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship last week in a tiebreaker over the USA.
- Sweden’s leaderboard move was only outdone by Austria, which fired an 11-under 133 to advance 13 places to 10th.
- Thailand had the best day at Le Golf National at 9-under 133 and moved 11 spots on the scoreboard to T27.
- Seven players from the Eisenhower Trophy field have been selected for the Haskins Award Watch List: Ludvig Aberg (Sweden, Texas Tech), Adrien Dumont de Chassart (Belgium, Ilinois), Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira (Argentina, Arkansas), Austin Greaser (USA, North Carolina), Christo Lamprecht (South Africa, Georgia Tech), Gordon Sargent (USA, Vanderbilt) and Michael Thorbjornsen (USA, Stanford). The Haskins Award honors the player of the year in men’s college golf. The Watch List is selected by a panel of Golfweek and Golf Channel writers.
- Japan’s last medal in the WATC was gold in 1984 as they won the Eisenhower Trophy in Hong Kong. Their other medals came in T2 in 1982 (tied for silver) and in 1974 and 1976 (silver in both).
- Jon Rahm of Spain holds the record for lowest individual 72-hole score at 263 in 2014. Taiga Semikawa of Japan stands at 18-under with the individual lead and has a chance to break that record. Previously, the scoring record of 269 was held by Jack Nicklaus of the USA in 1960 and stood until Rahm’s performance in Japan.
Round 4 begins Saturday at 8 a.m. with a two-tee start on both courses. The teams with the leading scores will play at Le Golf National and the other half of the draw will play at Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche.