Date: September 23, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Australians seize Eisenhower control, ice cream

There was an unexpectedly loud roar as Harrison Endycott landed a birdie on the 18th hole today to close a round that has given Australia the whip hand at the World Amateur Team Championship.

Not only did it seal Endycott’s five-under-par 66 to match teammate and fellow New South Welshman Cam Davis’ second round and give Australia an eight-shot halfway buffer, it meant ice cream was on the evening menu for the Australian contingent.

West Australian Curtis Luck fired an even-par 71 that didn’t count towards the daily team score, but Australia’s combined 10-under par 132 at Iberostar, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, equalled the record for the lowest second in World Amateur Team Championship.

Most importantly, the 19-under total, one off the USA’s WATC record set in 2012, has the Aussie contingent full of confidence – and now ice cream.

“It was a pretty funny thing, actually, when that putt dropped,” Endycott said.

“I don’t think many people realised what we doing when we were jumping around and high-fiving each other.”

The Australian team has taken the mantra of “be professional” into the week, including vigilance at the all-you-can-eat buffet where they’re staying.

Conditioning coach Luke Mackey set the team – and support staff – the challenge of staying ice-cream free all week until they reached one of two specific score criteria during the tournament.

One was for an individual to shoot six under; the other was for the team to combine to reach 10 under in any round.

So Endycott’s putt proved the deal-sealer.

“Luke has been pretty strict with our diet, so that was pretty funny to get that done,” he said.

“The boys have really come together well as a group, so that just tightens us up a little bit more, I suppose.”

Team manager Matt Cutler said all three had played well for the second successive day, with Luck not getting the rub of the greens to date, but “you get the feeling it’s not far away for him, either”.

“We made a great start again and the guys did a great job of doing what we said about `staying professional’ all day,” Cutler said.

“They didn’t make any big mistakes, didn’t get carried away with their scores and then have done all the right things off the course afterwards – it’s going really well.

“That mantra is something the boys have really taken to heart and it’s extended to the support staff as well, so there’s a really good bond between us all.”

Davis, of Monash Golf Club in Sydney, poured in five birdies in his first seven holes to back up his first round 67 with another polished performance to take the individual lead at -10 after two rounds.

His nearest rival is Avondale’s Endycott, whose -9 tally has him one clear of Poland’s Adrian Meronk on the solo standings.

But this week is all about “team” as Australia chases its fourth Eisenhower Trophy in the biennial event’s 58-year history.

That was never more evident than in Endycott’s remarkable finish on a course on which he’d been too ill to walk a full practice round on Monday.

Suffering food poisoning from Sunday night, Endycott was forced to go inside and rest after nine holes of scouting on Monday and actually had not even seen the final six holes he played today.

But with coach Dean Kinney having pooled information with his teammates, Endycott was given strong advice on where to hit the ball off each tee and then targets on which to focus coming into each green.

“It really shows the team spirit we have, I think,” Endycott said.

“I had to trust what the boys had told me to do and I was really pleased that I didn’t let them down by going out there and doing it.

“That last six holes was really fun because I was really playing blind, but I just hit it at the targets they’d set me and trusted my yardages and then made a couple of putts, which was really nice.

“The best thing we have this week is that real bond of not leaving it to your mates.

“You don’t want to leave your mate hanging on under pressure, so if we can have all of us contributing like we have been, it makes it much easier to play your own game.”

Endycott said that would be the mindset approaching the second half of the tournament.

“We won’t be looking at the (leaderboards), because things can change quickly in this format. But we know that if we keep playing our own game and staying focused on what each of us has to do for the team, we are in a pretty good spot.”