Date: September 05, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussie lads chase their own history

The impact is, strangely, both beneficial and meaningless as the Australian men’s team rolls into the World Amateur Teams Championship as defending champion in Ireland this week.

On one hand, the trio of Min Woo Lee, David Micheluzzi and Shae Wools-Cobb has no connection to their victorious countrymen of 2016 other than the coat of arms on their shirts.

Coach Grant Field says, rightly, that there is no relevance between this year’s Aussie crop and the world-beating team of Cam Davis, Curtis Luck and Harrison Endycott that smashed records in Mexico in 2016 to win the nation’s fourth Eisenhower Trophy.

And while the team clearly agrees, they also acknowledge that there is just a hint of appreciation that others have when the Australian team is announced around Carton House, near Dublin, as the “defending champion”.

“It clearly doesn’t mean anything right now,” Queenslander Wools-Cobb said.

“But you do get that sense that people are looking at you a little bit more when they say that sort of thing.

“It won’t change the way we go about anything, but I hope they (other teams) are thinking about that, for sure.”

Victorian Micheluzzi, capping a year of outstanding golf and breakthroughs, is feeling confident of not only his game, but the way the team is bonding over practice rounds at both the O’Meara Course and Montgomerie Course, on both of which they’ll play two rounds in the next four days, with each country’s best two individual scores each day counting towards a four-round team total.

“I really like both courses, I think they’ll suit our games and they’re absolutely mint,” Micheluzzi beamed.

“The boys are pretty pumped and I think we can do really well here.”

Which leaves Lee, the baby of the team at 20 but with the most international experience of the trio.

The West Australian knows his team is ranked to compete strongly again this year. He’s also been around long enough to know that it means nothing once the ball start flying later today.

“I’m confident we’ll go well, but we have to play to our best as individuals when we’re out there and figure it out at the end,” Lee said.

“There are some really good players here and if we go in thinking about any of that, we’re (in trouble).”

Of the team’s likely key rivals, the United States is, as ever, the obvious measuring stick with the world’s Nos 2, 3 and 7 players suiting up.

The lowest ranked, Cole Hammer, arguably is in the best form of anyone in the field, highlighting the Americans’ obvious right to favouritism.

But similarly dangerous will be England, Sweden, and the always under-rated China. But having finished at a record high of No.5 last time out, Norway is a big threat again, especially with newly crowned US Amateur champion Viktor Hovlan as spearhead.

In all, there’s a record-tying 72 nations competing for the men’s WATC, a fact of which Field is acutely aware.

“That’s the thing about this week – there’s a heap of talent here and it often comes down to who handles the moment,” he said.

“The boys are very level and get on really well as a unit, so hopefully we get an even break with the weather and they can show their stuff.”