Date: October 17, 2008

USA clings to two shot lead

The USA, bolstered by matching 5-under-par 68s from Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark, opened up a two-stroke lead over Scotland at 10-under-par 136 in the first round of the 2008 World Amateur Team Championship. Playing at the par-73 Royal Adelaide Golf Club, the Americans capitalized on optimal scoring conditions. We are off to a good start. All three played well, USA captain Walter Driver said of his team. Conditions were benign here at Royal Adelaide. “Until we play both courses, it s hard to tell exactly where you stack up against the field. Fowler, the American collegiate player of the year in 2008, made five birdies in his first nine holes and finished with seven against two bogeys. Lovemark, who won the American collegiate title in 2007, carded an eagle, four birdies and one bogey. Billy Horschel s 1-under 72 did not count for the USA. The lesser wind speeds were not expected by the leaders, who tied for the second-lowest first round score in Eisenhower Trophy competition. The last four days of practice rounds, it was windy every day, Fowler said. We were looking forward to playing in tough conditions with the wind blowing and today it was a just a little breeze. We took advantage of it. Scotland had three players under par to post 8-under 136 at The Grange Golf Club’s par-72 West Course. With a 5-under 67 from Callum Macaulay and 3-under 69 from Gavin Dear, the Scots did not count a 2-under 70 from Wallace Booth. Conditions were fair, Scotland s captain George Crawford said. It was our preferred time to be first off. We felt we could take advantage of conditions and we ve done that. We felt there were a lot of opportunities for birdies but the greens are such that you are not going to hole a lot of putts. I thought they all played well. Mauricio Muniz of Puerto Rico shot the lowest round of the day, an 8-under 64, at The Grange s West Course to pace his team into third place at 137. His score was one stroke shy of the championship record of 63 by Jason Dawes of Australia in 1994 and just the fourth 64 on record. I think I got the speed of the greens just right, Muniz said. I was reading the putts. The key was the speed of the greens. They are a lot faster than in Puerto Rico. Once I got comfortable with the speed, the putts started falling in. Trailing Puerto Rico were France and Wales tied for fourth, New Zealand and South Africa tied for sixth, Sweden in eighth and England, Korea, defending champion Netherlands and Spain tied for ninth. Australia registered a 1-over-par 147 to stand tied for 17th. In the World Amateur, the team s two best individual scores count.