Ireland finished the opening day of the Eisenhower Trophy a daunting 12 strokes behind the United States after Alan Dunbar was unable to tee it up due to illness.
With the best two cards from the three-man team to count in the World Amateur Team Championship, the Rathmore man’s absence at the PGA Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club in Turkey proved to be a major handicap.
While Waterford Castle’s Kevin Phelan opened with a three under par 68, the Island’s Gavin Moynihan had to settle for a two over 73, leaving Ireland tied for 17th on one-under par. Team standings
Starting on the back nine, Phelan birdied the 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th to turn in five under 31. But he bogeyed the first, second and third before a birdie at the par-three eighth saw him post a 68 that left him tied for 13th in the individual standings. Individual standings
Moynihan is tied for 77th after a 73 in which he followed a birdie at the 12th with a bogey at the 13th and a double bogey seven at the 16th before finishing with 11 consecutive pars.
The United States broke the all-time record for lowest 18-hole team score with a 13 under par aggregate of 131 to take a four-stroke lead over Mexico ,
World Amateur No 1 Chris Williams and Justin Thomas shot 64 and 67, respectively, to top the previous mark of 132 set by the USA in the first round in 2004 in Puerto Rico and Sweden and Wales in the second and third rounds, respectively, in 2006 in South Africa.
Reigning US Amateur champion Steven Fox posted a non-counting, one-under 71.
“We’ve got some horses,” said USA captain Jim Vernon. “Chris was just…..Chris. He was hitting greens and making putts. Justin was a little up and down but he is such a competitor, he came back. Steven was very steady.”
Playing at the par-72 Cornelia Golf Club, Williams posted seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey to tie for the second-lowest individual score in history.
The Mark H. McCormack Medal winner tallied five birdies on the inward nine, including four consecutive on holes 12 through 15.
“I hit it close and made a lot of putts,” said Williams, a member of 2011 US Walker Cup team. “Everything went right today. I’ve been playing well in practice and to be able to support the team is exciting.”
The World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition, begun in 1958.
It is conducted by the International Golf Federation, which comprises national governing bodies of golf in 126 countries and international professional tours.
The competition, which is being held for the 28th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa.
This year’s event is hosted by the Turkish Golf Federation. The teams play for the Eisenhower Trophy. The IGF is the international federation for golf for the International Olympic Committee and will conduct the Olympic golf competition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
In each round, the total of the two lowest scores from each team constitutes the team score for the round. The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship.
Thomas, the winner of the Haskins and Jack Nicklaus Awards as the USA’s best college player in 2012, logged five birdies and an eagle against two bogeys.
“I was hitting it in the fairway and when you do that you have a lot of scoreable clubs in your hand so you can try to get it close,” said the University of Alabama sophomore, who is No. 3 in the WAGR.
“I took advantage of the opportunities I had. I putted well; most of my putts were in the 8-15-foot range. I like seeing ‘USA’ up there but it’s just the first day, we have to keep playing well.”
Also playing at Cornelia Golf Club, Mexico posted a six-under 66 from Sebastian Vazquez and a 3-under 69 from Rodolfo Cazaubon for a 9-under total of 135.
“We have an outstanding team that is capable and experienced,” said Mexican captain Jorge Coughlan. “That is the difference from our past teams. They are experienced now.”
The Republic of Korea (at par-71 Antalya Golf Club) is third at eight under. Defending champion France, also playing at Antalya Golf Club, stands tied for fourth at seven under with Netherlands and Spain, which played at Cornelia Golf Club.
Canada, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are tied for seventh at six under. England is 10th at five under and Austria and Malaysia are tied for 11th at four under.
The host team from Turkey is tied for 34th.