USA Leads at Midway Point in Abu Dhabi
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: 19 October 2023
What: 33rd World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy
Where: Abu Dhabi Golf Club (National Course), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The United States of America’s Nick Dunlap, who is No. 4 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®, tallied seven birdies on route to a 5-under 67 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to position the Americans one stroke clear of France and the People’s Republic of China through the second round of the 33rd World Amateur Team Championship.
“I just like the vibe out here,” said Dunlap, the 2023 U.S. Amateur champion. “It’s a little bit different so I’m just trying to embrace it. There are a couple holes that I like hitting 3-wood where a lot of people are hitting driver, so I’m trying to play to my strengths and play to what looks good to my eye and go from there.”
USA also used a 2-under 70 from world No. 2 Gordon Sargent, who officially earned PGA Tour membership on Wednesday via PGA Tour University Accelerated, for a two-day total of 16-under 272. After a slow team start, Dunlap and Sargent combined for five birdies during a four-hole stretch at the conclusion of their first nine.
“This team had another really good day,” said USA Captain Mark Newell. “It started out kind of challenging out there, but they really turned it on around the turn (team started on No. 10) and played some really good golf in conditions that were reasonably challenging with the heat and the wind.”
France, which held a share of the lead at the start of the day, was led by 15-year-old Hugo Le Goff’s 4-under 68 and a 2-under 70 from 2023 U.S. Open qualifier Bastien Amat. Hugo, a 2023 R&A Boys’ Amateur semifinalist, had an eagle and three birdies through his first seven holes.
“He’s one of the youngest players on the course, but he looks like a very experienced player when you see him play,” said French Captain Antoine Delon. “Very professional on the course and very steady for the team.”
The People’s Republic of China, which finished in a tie for 31st last year in France, moved up six places on the leader board on the strength of a 5-under 67 from Zihang Qiu and a 4-under 68 from Justin Bai, who has committed to play at the University of Washington in 2024.
“We’ve had a very good start in this tournament, much better than last year,” said the People’s Republic of China’s coach Chen Long Hui. “Our players played very good and very smart. They just played their tempo.”
Australia remains two strokes behind the USA in a tie for fourth place with Czechia on the strength of another steady day from two-time Australian Junior Amateur champion Jeffrey Guan and Stanford University senior Karl Vilips. Guan and Vilips, who qualified for the 2023 U.S. Open, traded a pair of 68s and 69s during the first two rounds to lead the Aussies to a 14-under total of 274.
Frederik Kjettrup rebounded from an opening-round 75 with a 5-under 67 on Thursday to position Demark in a tie for sixth alongside Argentina at 275. Jacob Skov Olesen added a 71 for Denmark.
“It’s nice that the guys had my back when I didn’t play very well yesterday, and I got to put a good round in to help the team today,” said Kjetterup, who is No. 15 in the WAGR® and a senior at Florida State University. “I was hitting it good today. I could have holed some more [putts] from 10-25 feet, but once I started hitting [approach shots] inside 10 feet, I was making some birdies and that was good.”
Completing the top 10 are Mexico and The Netherlands with team totals of 12-under 276.
Nick Dunlap, USA: “To know that those two guys have my back allows me to play a little more free out there. I told them yesterday, if I shoot 3 under par and my score doesn’t count, we’re going to be just fine.”
Captain Mark Newell, USA: “When you’re ranked high and you’ve had the wins and the honors that these guys have had, expectations will come with it. But I don’t think they feel any special pressure. I think they’re in a good frame of mind and ready to go out and have another great round tomorrow.”
Santiago De La Fuente, Mexico: “We’re just happy to be out here competing, representing our country. Since we were kids, you’d see Carlos Ortiz, Oliver Ortiz and all the guys that played in the World Am and you just want to be like them, so being out here is just a privilege for us.”
Coach Chen Long Hui, People’s Republic of China: “They are all going to University in the U.S. next summer, so it’s a good experience for them for the future to play in a big tournament like this. I hope they can keep this [going] until the end [of the championship.] Just keep going.”
Bastien Amat, France: “Today was quite similar to yesterday’s round. Simple golf, I just hit my targets and had a really good long game again. I probably had two less putts that didn’t go in compared to yesterday, but it’s very encouraging. I know tomorrow if I make some putts, I can go low.”
- France’s Le Goff (9-under 135) leads the individual leaderboard by one stroke over Czechia’s Filip Jakubcik, Italy’s Pietro Bovari, the People’s Republic of China’s Zihang Qiu and the USA’s Nick Dunlap.
- Bovari made two eagles during his second-round 5-under 67 for the defending champion Italian team, which sits in a tie for 15th place. Italy is attempting to become the first team to win consecutive WATC titles since the USA did so in 2012 and 2014.
- Mexico and Norway made the largest moves of the day, both climbing 13 places. Mexico jumped into a tie for eighth, while Norway moved into a tie for 11th thanks to an 8-under 64 from Herman Sekne that included nine birdies. Sekne’s 64 is the lowest round of the championship thus far.
- Australia, the People’s Republic of China and the USA are the only countries with two players in the top 10 of the individual leader board.
- With his U.S. Amateur win in August, Nick Dunlap joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur.
What’s Next: Round 3 begins Friday at 6:30 a.m. local time with a two-tee start on the National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.