Date: September 22, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Australians fire at Eisenhower

Even the ice bath was fun for Cam Davis as his Australian team opened its quest for the Eisenhower Trophy in style today.

Led by Davis’ seven-birdie salvo en route to his opening 67, Australia finished round one at nine under with fellow New South Welshman Harrison Endycott’s 68 the other counting score towards the team total at Iberostar on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

So impressive were the Australians that they could leave a fine 69 by Western Australia’s Curtis Luck on the shelf as Scotland nabbed the lead at 10 under.

Davis, the world’s 11th ranked amateur, was happy to have begun the World Amateur Team Championship so well himself, but delighted the team’s cause had gone so smoothly.

“If you’d said we could grab this position after day one, we’d have taken it and been very happy,” the Monash Golf Club member enthused.

“We’ve made a great start and it doesn’t really matter who we’re behind or even if we were in front or a couple back, if we can keep playing like that for the next few days, it’s going to be hard to a tough score to beat for anyone.

“It’s really fun to be part of the team because we all know each other so well and have been thinking about this for a while.

“It’s great to be part of the team – to chat with everyone after the round about what you’ve each gone through out there.

“Even the recovery sessions are more fun when you do it together … it’s great.”

Naturally, it’s easy to be so buoyant when you’ve carded a round that Australian team manager Matt Cutler said could “easily have been a 63”.

The 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur and 2016 Brabazon Trophy runner-up admitted he’d played “really well today” and that only a few missed chances prevented something even more special.

“I hit a lot of iron shots in nice and close, but I missed a lot of 5-6 footers, probably more just getting used to this grass that I’ve never played on before,” Davis said.

“But it’s not an easy course to score on, so I think we should be pretty happy with that.”

Davis was three under at the turn and Australia five under in total after starting on the 10th hole. He then bogeyed the first and eighth holes, but split them with four other birdies on his inward nine.

The second counting score slot had leapt between Luck and Endycott until the Sydneysider double-bogeyed the 2nd, his 11th hole to momentarily leave Luck alone in the helping role.

But 12th-ranked Endycott, of Avondale Golf Club, was absolutely spectacular in making five birdies in his closing six holes to roar back into the fray.

Luck, of Cottesloe Golf Club, was solid throughout his round and the world No.3 still sits 14th in the individual competition after his round that contained six birdies.

The Australians said there was still room for improvement with eight shots collectively picked up – on 11 of 12 possible birdies among the entire team – on the four par-fives, but not much ground made elsewhere.

Cutler said the mood in the group was outstanding as they focused on the second round at nearby Mayakoba later tonight (Australian time).

“We were very pleased that all the guys shot in the 60s – it takes a lot of heat off them individually to perform when they all know their mates have their back,” he said.

“We got it under par early and were never really in trouble. The leaderboard changes really quickly in this competition, so we told the guys not to look too much at them, but you’re never going to be too far away if you have all the guys under par like that.”

Scotland was powered by Australian Amateur champion Connor Syme, who shares the individual lead with Poland’s Adrian Meronk at six-under-par 66.

The highly regarded Scottish team also had an even contribution with Grant Forrest firing a 68 and Rob MacIntyre a 69 that, like Luck’s, wasn’t ultimately needed.

“The players know they have a good chance to do well here. It’s been a really good first day and that will give them more belief for the remainder of the championship,” Scottish captain Claire Queen said.

Scotland’s total of 134 tied the third-lowest first-round score in WATC history. The United States set the opening-round record with a 131 in 2012 and also posted a 132 in 2004.

Spain was two strokes back in third place at 8 under, while Thailand and Poland were T4 at six under alongside Ireland, the only team among the leaders to have played Mayakoba in the first round.

The dual defending champion USA is in a four-way tie for seventh at five under.