Date: September 06, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Micha streaks ease Aussie dramas

David Micheluzzi went on an "exhausting" rollercoaster ride to keep Australia's Eisenhower Trophy defence on track in Ireland today.

Australia, at times, looked every bit one of the top contenders for the World Amateur Teams Championship at Carton House.

But stumbling inward nines cost momentum and forced a great rearguard action from Micheluzzi to ensure he and the team both finished at three under after the first round on the Montgomerie Course.

His teammates, Shae Wools-Cobb and Min Woo Lee, each carded even-par 72s to leave Australia nine shots off the cracking pace of Denmark midway through round one.

But even Dane John Axelsen's 64 on the par-72 Montgomerie Course wasn't enough for the individual lead, with Indian young gun Rayhan Thomas signing for the same score but on the adjacent par-73 O'Meara Course.

The low scores have put additional pressure on the Aussie trio to chase hard on day two when they move to the O'Meara layout, but Micheluzzi said there was no panic.

"The boys are up and about still, but we're fired up for tomorrow," the Victorian said.

"We know we're spotting the other teams a start, but tomorrow on a course that's a fair bit easier, we reckon, we could see a seven or eight under from a couple of us and we'll get right back into it.

"We dont' have to try to lead after two rounds, but hopefully we can get (the lead) back to about five shots.

"But it is important for at least one of us to have a low one.

"We're hoping for at least 10 under (combined) … and it should be possible, we're all playing well."

And while Australia's position looks only fair on paper, it would have been a lot better bar for one horror hole after the team started on the 11th hole.

West Australian Lee, who'd been four under through 11 (the third on the course), suffered a double-bogey on the fifth – book-ended by two bogeys – and fell back to even par in a hurry.

Micheluzzi, in the next three-ball to the par-four fifth, followed suit with his own double to threaten his round.

And to cap it off, Queenslander Wools-Cobb could only manage a bogey as the Aussies dropped five shots on the team leaderboard in the space of 15 nasty minutes.

"I was headless after my double there," said Micheluzzi who short-sided himself in sand near a right pin, "flubbed" his bunker shot out into rough, watched his par chip lip out then missed a 1m putt back for bogey to test his patience.

"It could have gone either way for me, there, I reckon.

"But I hit a good iron to the (par-three) seventh and made a 15-footer for birdie and it got me going again … and I ended up rolling in a bomb on the ninth for three (birdies) in a row."

It was Micheluzzi's second "hat-trick" after three straight birdies on holes 13-15 earlier in his round.

He also rolled in a huge 15m eagle roll on the 18th, but interspersed all the good with four bogeys.

"I was exhausted at the end of it, to be honest," Micheluzzi said.

"It could easily have been a seven or eight under round, but it could have gone the other way easily and been an over-par round, too.

"I missed five different five-foot putts and three from three feet, but I made a couple of bombs as well, so it was just one of those rounds."

Wools-Cobb, renowed for his pure putting stroke, also missed a handful of short putts and was flat after his round despite striking the ball well.

Lee, similarly, was down after his 15 minutes of anguish, but bounced back with a late birdie to show his game wasn't far from its powerful peak.

"I think we'll be OK," Micheluzzi said.

"We're in a good spot (mentally) with it all and we'll just work our way back into it tomorrow."