WORLD AMATEUR TEAM
USA Within Three Strokes Midway Through World Amateur Team September 5, 2018 | DUBLIN, Ireland By Pete Kowalski, USGA

Collin Morikawa rebounded in Round 2 with a 7-under-par 66 after shooting a non-counting 72 in Round 1. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Team Scores | Individual Scores | Round 3 Tee Times

What Happened

Thanks to a seven-stroke improvement from Round 1, the USA cut its deficit from eight strokes to three after Round 2 of the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House. At 17-under-par 273, the USA is tied for sixth overall, one stroke behind Canada, two behind Denmark, Thailand and host Ireland, and three behind solo leader New Zealand.

The USA's 13-under showing Thursday on the O'Meara Course tied for the best performance of the day. The big mover for the American side was Collin Morikawa, No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, who responded to a non-counting 72 in the first round with a team-best, 7-under 66.

Morikawa, who credited his improvement to increased confidence on the putting green, was also confident his team would bounce back.

"We had to. I knew we would," he said. "Our team is too deep and too strong not to. That was a key thing to stay in it, because guys are taking it deep out there. There are two more days and we are not out of it. I’m pretty excited for the next two days."

Justin Suh, No. 2 in the WAGR, was one stroke off Morikawa's pace with a 67. Cole Hammer, the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball co-champion and 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur semifinalist, shot 71 for the second consecutive day.

"The boys did what they had to do," said Tom O'Toole Jr., USA captain and past USGA president. "They had to shoot some good, low scores. They left some out there and they are in good spirits. We are back in the ballgame."

What's Next

Round 3 begins Friday at 7:45 a.m. off two tees on both courses. The leading teams will play the Montgomerie Course.

Quotable

Justin Suh, of the USA (on the difference between the Montgomerie and O'Meara courses): “It’s a big jump. We needed to shoot a score that low at O'Meara because it’s the easier of the two. We gotta keep it going at Montgomerie.”

Denzel Ieremia, of New Zealand (-6, 66): “It’s halfway through the tournament, so it’s nice to be in front. It’s a good position. I am confident in our team. We will go through our process and see what happens.”

New Zealand captain Bryce Hamer (who is also the team’s physiotherapist): “It’s a cliché but the team is huge. They all support each other, they get on really well and have a strong culture. I think it’s true to New Zealand that they are very humble guys and they understand what it’s all about.”

Stefano Mazzoli, of Italy (who shot 64 after an opening 79): “It was 29 on the front nine but I actually birdied on 10 so I had eight birdies in a row. It’s great to come back like this after yesterday – that was a tough day for me. So, yesterday everything was tough and today everything seemed to come easy. I honestly had a chance to go a couple more under, but I got what counts!”

Ryan Lumsden, of Scotland (on the birdie challenge from his coach): “Ian told me I had to make eight birdies today. I got up to seven through 16 holes and missed a putt for my eighth on 17. I had a little 10-foot putt on the last for birdie and knew I had to make it so I hit it a little firm because I really wanted to make it. Luckily, it rattled the back of the cup and dropped.”

Niklas Regner, of Austria (-6, 67): “It is definitely easier for Austria to compete here at the World Amateur Team Championships rather than at the European Team as Austria is a little country. It’s easier to find three good players than six good players.”

Notable

• The 131 of New Zealand and Thailand surpassed the previous-best second-round low of 132 by Sweden in 2006 and Australia in 2016.

• On the O’Meara Course, the best move of the day in mostly rainy conditions came from Italy, which had finished T-23 after the first round but stood tied for eighth through 36 holes. Propelled by a 9-under 64 from Stefano Mazzoli and a 4-under 69 from Lorenzo Filippo Scalise, they posted a 13-under 133 that put them at the top of the leader board as the first-day contenders teed off in the second round. Mazzoli, the 2015 European Amateur champion, made a 15-stroke improvement after a first-round 79. 

• Mazzoli, a senior at Texas Christian University, logged eight birdies in nine holes on the front nine for an 8-under 29, which is one off the WATC mark of 28 set by Denny McCarthy of the USA in 2014 and was matched by John Axelsen of Denmark in the first round. His 64 was the best round of the day.

• Japan’s Keita Nakajima, who injured his hand/wrist late in his first round and could not finish, withdrew before the second round.

• Serbia, playing in its fourth Eisenhower, produced its best all-time round on the strength of a 6-under 67 from Branimir Gudelj and a 5-under 68 from Mihailo Dimitrijevic for an 11-under-135. Gudelj has broken his record for his country’s lowest Eisenhower score, which was 73 in the first round in 2016. Dimitrijevic was a Serbian national team member in football and tennis before taking up golf in 2010. They stand in 20th place. The Serbs previous best finish was T-54 in 2012.

• Ayoub Id Omar, of Morocco, tied the low individual score for his nation with a 68. Previously in the third round in Mexico in 2016, Yassine Touhami also fired a 68.

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