WORLD AMATEUR TEAM
USA Eight Strokes Back After Round 1 September 5, 2018 | Dublin, Ireland By Pete Kowalski, USGA

Justin Suh (left) and Cole Hammer (right) led the way for the USA during Round 1. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

What Happened

Led by Justin Suh, who fired a 3-under 69, the USA finds itself tied for 19th after the first round of the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House. Cole Hammer shot 1-under 71, putting them eight strokes behind Denmark, who leads by two strokes over host-country Ireland after one round.

Playing the par-72 Montgomery Course, Suh, who is ranked No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, carded five birdies to go along with an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole, but was slowed by a double bogey on the par-4 second hole. Hammer, who this summer became the first player since 1986 to advance to the semifinals in the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur in the same year, made three birdies against two bogeys. World No. 3 Collin Morikawa shot a non-counting even-par 72 for the USA.

“I never really got it going. I got it to 2 under after 18 and then I hit it in a pot bunker on No. 1 and gave one back,” said Hammer, a freshman at the University of Texas. All three USA team members began their rounds on hole No. 11. “That was kind of the story for me on the back nine. I would make a birdie and then give it back on the next hole. I’m happy with the way I played, and it was a solid day to shoot 1 under.”

Denmark was powered by John Axelsen and Rasmus Hojgaard, who shot 8-under 64 and 4-under 68, respectively, on the Montgomery Course. The pair combined to tie for the second-lowest first-round score in Eisenhower Trophy history, just one behind the record of 131 set by the USA in Turkey in 2012.

“Everything just worked today,” said Axelsen, a University of Florida sophomore, who won the Danish Amateur in 2017 and 2018. “I was going up to the ball and just feeling like this is going to be close.”

For Ireland, Robin Dawson began with six birdies in his first 11 holes on his way to a 7-under 65 and John Murphy and Conor Purcell posted identical 3-under 69s. Dawson, the world No. 10, won the 2018 Irish Amateur Open and was runner-up in the British Amateur and European Amateur earlier this year.

“We knew coming into the week it was going to be a big birdie fest,” said Dawson, an equine business graduate from nearby Maynooth University. “It helps drive us on every time. When you make one [birdie] you want to make another one. I think making a lot of birdies is key out here and going low.”

India and Switzerland share third place at 9 under, followed by New Zealand and Japan in fifth at 7 under and Thailand, Spain, England, Portugal and Republic of Korea tied in seventh at 6 under.

What's Next

Round 2 begins Thursday at 7:45 a.m. with a two-tee start on both courses. The USA will begin on hole No. 1 on the O’Meara Course.

Quotable

Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark (-4, 68): “The conditions were very good. There wasn’t a lot of wind and so, it wasn’t affecting the ball much. So, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted without the wind touching it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Conor Purcell of Ireland (-3, 69): “Some people would think there’s pressure on us, but I think any time you can play under pressure it’s somewhat a privilege to be in that position and to have all the spotlight on us. It’s good going out there and you get a clap for hitting a good shot and that just pulls us on. Once you get into the flow of things, pressure becomes non-existent. You’re just playing your game.”

Daniel Hillier of New Zealand (-4, 69): “Windy Wellington – I should be used to it. It’s always a good challenge when the wind gets up and especially playing Montgomerie. There are a lot of fairway bunkers, so it will make it more demanding off the tee.”

Collin Morikawa of the USA (E, 72): “I didn’t get anything going. I started with birdie on 13, and thought I had something going,but I gave some back. Tomorrow’s golf course offers some more chances and hopefully I’ll take those. With tomorrow’s round, we can go deep because there are a lot of low scores out there. For us, it’s not something to be afraid of. We’ll be ready for the next three days.”

Justin Suh of the USA (-3, 69): “On our front nine, we were pretty good with making putts. Then on hole No. 2 I made a double bogey and that was pretty upsetting. But, I went eagle, par, birdie, which was a great way to finish.”

USA Captain Tom O’Toole, Jr.: “It’s a hard golf course. I’m very proud of our guys. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Things are looking up for tomorrow. They all played well. They got a couple of bad breaks. The score could have been lower. The USA is going to be heard from. We are not done.”

Notable

  • John Axelsen’s nine-hole score of 29 on the front nine was one stroke shy of the record of 28 shot by Denny McCarthy of the USA in the final round in 2014. It included seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey.

  • Both Axelsen and Rayhan Thomas of India shot 64, the day’s best score. The Dane was 8 under at Montgomerie and Thomas was 9 under at the O’Meara. Those scores are one stroke off the first-round individual low score of 63 by Jason Dawes of Australia in 1994. Thomas, who lives in Dubai and was a semifinalist in the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur, has committed to play college golf at Oklahoma State University.

  • With the announcement today of the European Ryder Cup captain’s picks, the total number of players who have played in the Eisenhower Trophy is 12. For the European side (7), Italy’s Francesco Molinari (2002 and 2004), Spain’s Jon Rahm (2014) and Sergio Garcia (bronze medal in 1996 and 1998), Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (2006), Sweden’s Alex Noren (bronze medal in 2004) and Henrik Stenson (1998) and England’s Paul Casey (silver medal in 2000) have participated. For the USA (5), Bryson DeChambeau (gold medal in 2014), Rickie Fowler (silver medal in 2008), Phil Mickelson (silver medal in 1990), Justin Thomas (gold medal in 2012) and Tiger Woods (gold medal in 1994) have played.

  • Jovan Rebula of South Africa, the winner of the 2018 British Amateur, withdrew due to an injured back. Malcolm Mitchell took an overnight flight and replaced him in the field.

  • The last host nation to win the Eisenhower Trophy was the USA at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in 1980. Only 10 countries have won gold (USA, 15; Australia and Great Britain and Ireland, 4; Canada, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, France, Netherlands and Scotland, 1).

 

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