Date: September 25, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

All hail the world champions

Food curfew lifted and Eisenhower Trophy front and centre, the Australian team sat together but alone in a room at the Mayakoba Golf Club as the realisation fell over them.

“We are world champions – you little beauty,” manager Matt Cutler beamed to toasts of pizza and ice cream.

Australia, on the back of four days of excellence on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, careered to one of the most dominant World Amateur Teams Championship wins ever recorded.

The 38-under team total came on the back of three dazzling individual performances, but the 19-shot margin over second-placed England was the result of good old-fashioned teamwork and dedication.

Australian coach Dean Kinney last Sunday put to the team, rated favourite by many on the basis of world rankings, that they should not only win this week, but dominate in the process.

He challenged them to not only win Australia’s fourth Eisenhower Trophy, but to destroy the opposition in the process by finishing 1-2-3 in the individual standings.

Well, in a twist to the old saying, two and two-thirds out of three ain’t bad.

Cameron Davis, of Monash Country Club in Sydney’s north, completed his task with a fourth consecutive excellent round to claim top individual honours. Scores of 67-66-68-68 left the 2015 Australian Amateur Champ at -17.

His nearest rival was Cottesloe Golf Club’s Curtis Luck, who again confirmed his outstanding potential with rounds of 69-71-63-68 to sit -15.

And while Avondale Golf Club’s rising star Harrison Endycott wasn’t thrilled with his closing round, his 68-66-73-73 was good for T16 overall and his contributions to the big picture invaluably important.

“I’m happy to win that,” Davis said.

“But it really didn’t matter as long as we got the big trophy. This was all about the team and everyone did an amazing job. Everyone.”

Kinney’s wish list might have sounded far-fetched to outsiders listening in last week.

But Luck, already the world’s third-ranked amateur and poised to go higher, said he didn’t see it that way.

“Not at all. On paper we had the best team, so why wouldn’t we go out and do that?” the Perth ace beamed.

“In my eyes, we didn’t do anything different from what we’re capable of and expect each other to do.

“We honestly didn’t think it was far-fetched at all and I think we showed that.”

Luck said the feature of the team’s extraordinary week is that they never looked at the results and leaderboards, so much so that he didn’t even know for sure Australia would win until he signed his card and took it all in today.

“We just knew that we all had each other’s backs and that if we came in having done our best, we were confident it was going to be enough as a team.”

Endycott, winner of an extraordinary five key amateur events this year, sounded marginally less than his normally jubilant self after his final round, but was quick to stress it wasn’t because of his score, but rather that feeling that he might have let his mates down.

“We’ve had such an amazing week and I just came away thinking I hope I hadn’t put any pressure on the boys with the way I played,” a humble Endycott said, typifying the team bond.

“Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t matter what I scored. I just wanted to shoot something they could rely on if they were in trouble.

“Thankfully it didn’t matter today and now I can see we are part of a world championship team – and it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Luck is good friends with Terry Gale, who told his fellow West Australian that despite all the achievements in his illustrious career, the three times he played for the Eisenhower Trophy were among his most cherished moments.

“And I can see why now,” said Luck, still on a high after his recent US Amateur triumph.

“To share this with these guys is something I already appreciate, but this week is right there with anything I’ve ever done and to be able to share it with them in years to come is going to be awesome.

“This is an amazing accomplishment, not only for this team, but also for Australian golf and everyone who’s helped us get here and all the guys we play with and against at home.

“It’s just a great moment.”

Kinney concurred.

“Curtis is right. I did put it on them to give their best and remember the week fondly for the rest of their lives,” the New South Wales national coach said.

“And they took it exactly how I hoped they might. They believed in everything everyone around Golf Australia and their state programs has been telling them for the last few years and dominated.

“What a great day for Australian golf, and hopefully a few more to come.”