Date: September 14, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Australian women flag bold intentions

Nobody will be left wondering who they’re tackling when the Australian women’s team does battle for the Espirito Santo Trophy this week.

Hannah Green, Karis Davidson and Robyn Choi will not only metaphorically pull on the green and gold at the World Amateur Teams Championship in Mexico, they’ll literally carry our national symbols into this biennial battle.

“We are going to have face tattoos,” Davidson enthused as the team puts the finishing touches on its preparation of Australia’s title defence on the spectacular Mexican Caribbean coast.

“Just put the stickers on before we got out and play in the tournament – flags and colours, it should be fun.”

The young team bears no resemblance to the successful 2014 version – Minjee Lee, Su Oh and Shelly Shin – yet is naturally compared by the world’s golf scribes as Australia seeks its fourth world title since the event was first contested in 1964.

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And while world rankings suggest the title might be out of reach, the trio won’t hear of anything but competing for overall victory.

“The rankings have no meaning when we get out there,” Davidson said.

“We get on really well, the three of us, and we’re here to compete.”

Green said the Aussie team, the same combination which fought back brilliantly to finish second to host Korea in the Queen Sirikit Cup – the Asia-Pacific version of this competition – in April, had already proven a strong combination.

“We weren’t expected to do anything at the Sirikit and we ended up getting a medal and there’s no reason we can’t do that again if we play well.”

The competition, played a week before next week’s men’s version for the Eisenhower Trophy, will be played over two courses – the Mayakoba El Camaleón and Iberostar Playa Paraiso golf clubs around Riviera Maya beginning Wednesday night (Australian time).

The women practised on the Pete Dye-designed Iberostar course on Monday (Mexican time) in between driving tropical rain storms, then backed up at Mayakoba on Tuesday.

And the feeling among the women was that both courses had a series of tough holes that needed to be respected before a more attacking tone on the easier holes.

“There are a couple of holes like the (Iberostar’s) 17th which is a 370m par-four straight up a hill that you just have to try for par,” Green said.

“And the ninth is a long par five with a really different green, so that’s another to watch out for.

“I think it means we have to play to our numbers (yardages) a lot and take it from there.”

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Australian team manager Matt Cutler said the record 55 teams would provide a stern test to his young squad, but was confident they wouldn’t be overawed on the big stage.

“Our goals might develop more as the week goes by, but for now if we can hold our own among the Asia-Pacific contingent like they did at the Queen Sirikit, we shouldn’t be too far out of the conversation,” he said.

“Albeit a distant second, we were second only to Korea on their home course, and they’re going to be among the favourites here.

“Robyn has already shown that she is more than capable of posting world-class scores if she can keep her nerves under control and Karis continues to find ways to get the ball around the course in very competitive numbers.

“And Hannah has proven in the past year or so that she’s comfortable at any level at which she plays – she’s right at home in the heat of battle and rarely fails to play consistently.

“So we go in with great hope and see where that takes us as the tournament unfolds.”

The tournament has an individual component, but it’s historically unimportant.

The team element is the strong focus and the format is stroke play, with the two lowest of the three scores for each team to count as the team total for that day.

Australia has been drawn to play with host Mexico and Italy in the last three groups out on each of the first two days, the first at Mayakoba and second at Iberostar.

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