Robin Dawson used his putter like a magic wand to inspire his teammates and give Ireland the rip-roaring start they craved in the Eisenhower Trophy at Carton House.
The Tramore star (22) was in sensational form with the blade, making over 200 feet of putts in a bogey-free, seven-under par 65 on the bunker-strewn Montgomerie Course to give Ireland a dream start in their quest for gold.
Portmarnock's Conor Purcell (21) and Kinsale's John Murphy (20) made slow starts but with Dawson burning up the course, they were inspired by the cheers he created and rallied superbly to post three-under 69s.
With only the two best scores to count each day, Ireland’s 10-under par total left them alone in second place, just two shots behind leaders Denmark, who played the Montgomerie in an impressive 12-under par with John Axelsen firing an eight under 64 and Rasmus Hojgaard a 68.
India and Switzerland are tied for third in the bronze medal position after they negotiated the easier O'Meara Course in nine-under.
But as opening days go, this was a dream start for the boys in green, who left their playing partners from the USA and defending champions Australia, eight and nine strokes behind them respectively.
"Delighted with my score," said Dawson, who made a 20 footer at the 11th (Ireland's first), a 54 footer at the 12th and 40 footer at the 15th before following further birdies at the 17th, first and third with a 51 footer for his seventh birdie of the day at the sixth.
"My all-round game was decent today," added the world amateur number 10, who hit 16 greens in regulation in an impressive display in his penultimate event before turning professional.
"We knew coming into the week it was going to be a big birdie fest. 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."
Murphy had the honour of hitting the opening tee shot alongside Australia's world No 13 Min Woo Lee and American world No 3, Colin Morikawa.
And while he bogeyed his second and third holes, he quickly settled down, brushing in a 10 footer for eagle at the par-five 15th and birdies at the 16th, 18th and second to get to three-under par.
A double-bogeyed the fourth didn’t faze the University of Louisville ace he bounced back with birdies at the fifth and eighth for his 69, outscoring his playing partners by three strokes.
"I could hear a clap every time Rob hit a putt, so that was only going to be a good thing," Murphy said of Dawson's inspirational round.
"I heard he was holing a few putts out there and so I had a fair idea Rob was going well and that Conor was going about the same as me."
Purcell bogeyed the first two holes, leaving Ireland at the back of the field on three-over-par early on.
But like Murphy, he kept his cool and made six birdies in a super 69 and insisted that rather than feeling pressure, Ireland are relishing the "privilege" of playing at home.
Dawson added: "In my opinion, I don’t think there’s any pressure on us. We’re the ones with the advantage. I don’t understand why people keep saying there’s pressure playing at home. It’s such an advantage.
"The three of us love playing in front of crowds and we feed off of that. It’s so much fun instead of being out there on your own. I really enjoy it anyway."
Irish captain John Carroll was thrilled by his team's fast start and team coach Neil Manchip believes the trio are gunning to go low again on the O'Meara Course today.
"They are going to give her holly for four days and see where we end up," Manchip said with a grin.
"We know they are going to be loads of birdies out there tomorrow and hopefully we are the ones making them."
Denmark, with Axelsen shooting and eight-under 64 and Rasmus Hojgaard a four-under 68, posted a 12-under-par 132 to slide past host Ireland for a two-stroke first-round lead.
The Danish pair, playing the Montgomerie Course, 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.”
India and Switzerland shared 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.
Defending champion Australia was tied for 23rd at 3 under.
Captain John Carroll, Ireland
“I’m delighted with the start we made. I couldn’t ask for any more on day one - Robin (Dawson) with his seven under and the two boys three under each. Fantastic golf. And, we’re certainly looking forward to the next few days.”
Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark
“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 (whose father is a golf professional)
“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.”
Mitchell Waite of England (who was a co-runner-up in the 2018 European Amateur):
“That’s a good opening round from Denmark There are so many good players here – it is the World Championships.”
Daniel Hillier of New Zealand (who was co-medalist in the 2018 U.S. Amateur on the weather worsening by Wednesday afternoon):
“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.”
- John Axelsen’s nine-hole score of 29 (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.
- Denmark was tied for third following the first round in Argentina in 2010 and finished with a silver medal, its only trip to the podium in the 24 previous Eisenhower Trophy competitions.
- 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. “It’s great playing Monty now having that nine under – it takes the weight off the mind,” said Thomas, whose round included eight birdies, an eagle and one bogey. “We are a good team – and I am sure these boys will start firing tomorrow. I have full faith in this team. So, it’s not a surprise to see us up there on the leaderboard.”
- 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 Amateur, conducted by The R&A, withdrew due to an injured back. Malcolm Mitchell took an overnight flight and replaced him in the field. See related story: https://www.golfrsa.com/mitchell-replaces-rebula-in-eisenhower-team-for-sa/
- Denmark’s twins Rasmus and Nicholai Hojgaard (who, in 2018, won the European Amateur and played in the Open Championship) totalled 5-under 139, which would have placed T-12th as a team.
- The USA was T19th at 4 under with a 3 under 69 from Justin Suh and a 1 under 71 from Cole Hammer.
- 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).
World Amateur Team Championships, Eisenhower Trophy, Carton House
132 Denmark (Axelsen 64, Hojgaard 71, Hojgaard 68)
134 Ireland (Murphy 69, Purcell 69, Dawson 65)
137 India (Kaul 73, Bedi 74, John Thomas 64)
137 Japan (Kanaya 66, Nakajima WD, Imano 71)
137 Switzerland (Freiburghaus 72, Cohen 65, Ettlin 73)
138 Portugal (Lopes 72, Girao 71, Lencart 67)
138 Republic of Korea (Choi 71, Jang 73, Oh 67)
139 Austria (Steinlechner 71, Regner 70, Lipold 69)
139 Canada (Bernard 74, Rank 68, Savoie 71)
139 New Zealand (Ieremia 70, Mountcastle 73, Hillier 69)
140 Chile (Morgan Birke 72, Errazuriz 68, Gana 80)
140 England (Petrozzi 70, Waite 71, Jordan 73)
140 France (Gandon 75, Lacroix 70, Veyret 71)
140 Spain (Pastor 70, Del Rey 70, Hidalgo 73)
140 Thailand (Hamamoto 74, Kaewkanjana 66, Chothirunrungrueng 75)
140 United States of America (Morikawa 72, Suh 71, Hammer 71)
141 Argentina (Schonbaum 71, Fernandez de Oliveira 68, Contini 73)
141 Australia (Lee 72, Micheluzzi 69, Wools-Cobb 71)
141 Dominican Republic (Valverde A 71, Pena 71, Guerra 70)
141 Italy (Manzoni 73, Mazzoli 79, Scalise 71)
141 Norway (Hovland 70, Reitan 71, Volden 71)
141 Sweden (Widing 71, Gillberg 70, Nilehn 74)
141 Wales (Chamberlain 69, Hapgood 72, Williams 71)
141 Zimbabwe (Allard 73, Amm 68, Krog 74)
142 Czech Republic (Zuska 71, Hruby 73, Zach 71)
142 Poland (Pakosch 71, Pedryc 71, Szmidt 71)
143 Colombia (Ramirez Velandia 70, Restrepo 73, Ardila 73)
143 Germany (Hammer 77, Long 74, John 69)
143 Peoples Republic of China (Chen 77, Liang 72, Zhang 71)
143 South Africa (Saulez 70, Nienaber 73, Mitchell 78)
144 Belgium (Dumont de Chassart 71, De Bondt 74, de Wouters d'Oplinter 73)
144 Bermuda (Dillas 72, Ming 77, Campbell 72)
144 Netherlands (Ji 70, Kraai 74, van Tilburg 71)
144 Peru (Zubiate 71, Freundt-Thurne 74, Barco 70)
144 Scotland (Lumsden 71, Scott 71, Walker 71)
145 Mexico (Pereda 73, Terrazas 71, Ortiz Becerra 72)
145 Puerto Rico (Esteve 74, Alverio 71, Morales 79)
145 Venezuela (Garcia 68, Brauckmeyer 77, Prieto 82)
146 Croatia (Buerk 73, Stepinac 71, Vucemil 71)
146 Estonia (Hellat 75, Jegers 73, Turba 71)
146 Guatemala (Villavicencio Calderon 71, Castellanos Conde 78, Gurtner 71)
146 Hong Kong, China (Cheung 75, D'Souza 82, Ng 73)
146 Singapore (Ho 76, Lee 77, Foo 70)
147 Finland (Mahonen 75, Honkala 72, Valimaki 71)
147 Iceland (Sveinbergsson 71, Juliusson 73, Petursson 74)
147 Serbia (Cvetkovic 77, Dimitrijevic 78, Gudelj 70)
148 Brazil (Ishii 77, Park 73, Machado 75)
148 Morocco (Id Omar 74, Raouzi 74, Dahmane 75)
148 Qatar (Al Kaabi 72, Al Kuwari 86, Al Shahrani 76)
148 Slovakia (Brezovsky 75, Mach 73, Lucansky 80)
148 Uruguay (Reyes 73, Teuten 71, Alvarez 75)
149 Costa Rica (Gagne 73, Chaplet 77, Ortiz 76)
149 Turkey (Esmer 78, Yamac 71, Acikalin 75)
150 Luxembourg (Weis 71, Weis 71, Winandy 71)
150 Saudi Arabia (Almulla 73, Alsakha 77, Attieh 77)
151 Malta (Borg 81, Critien 75, Micallef 76)
152 Slovenia (Trnovec 71, Potocar 75, Burkelca 77)
152 Taipei, Chinese (Wang 71, Lai 77, Ho 76)
153 Liechtenstein (Schredt 71, Schreiber 71, Schredt 71)
154 Republic of Moldova (Coica 83, Volostnykh 71, Podgainii 85)
155 Guam (Camacho 75, Manalo 82, Poe 80)
156 Panama (Ducruet 79, Cargiulo 83, Ordonez 77)
156 United Arab Emirates (Al Jasmi 73, Skaik 71, Thabet 71)
157 Cayman Islands (Hastings 78, Wight 71, Jarvis 79)
158 Bulgaria (Marinov 81, Savov 71, Staykov 71)
161 Lithuania (Vaicius 71, Momkus 86, Markevicius 77)
161 Nigeria (Thompson 71, Inalegwu 81, Thompson 71)
164 Ghana (Angel 82, Dogbe 82, Kusi-Boateng 90)
167 Haiti (Brandt 95, Saint-Fort 88, Mehu 79)
175 Armenia (Balyan 84, Karakhanyan 91, Saghatelyan 103)
175 Iraq (Al-Hashimi 90, Barnouti 93, Radee 85)
193 Gabon (Illien 84, Perez Ayo 109)
O = O’Meara Course (Par 73); M = Montgomerie Course (Par 72)
64 M J Axelsen (DEN); O R John Thomas (IND):
65 O P Cohen (SUI); M Robin Dawson (IRL):
66 O S Kaewkanjana (THA); M T Kanaya (JPN):
67 M P Lencart (POR); M S Oh (KOR):
68 M A Errazuriz (CHI); O D Amm (ZIM); M G Rank (CAN); O J Garcia (VEN); M L Scalise (ITA); O M Fernandez de Oliveira (ARG); M R Hojgaard (DEN):
69 M A John (GER); O B Chamberlain (WAL); M Conor Purcell (IRL); O D Hillier (NZL); M D Micheluzzi (AUS); M John Murphy (IRL); M J Suh (USA); M L ipold (AUT); O S Zach (CZE):
70 O A Del Rey (ESP); M B Gudelj (SRB); O D Ieremia (NZL); M F Lacroix (FRA); M G Foo (SGP); O G Petrozzi (ENG); M I Ramirez Velandia (COL); M J Guerra (DOM); O J Ji (NED); M L Barco (PER); M M Saulez (RSA); O M Waite (ENG); M N Regner (AUT); O O Gillberg (SWE); O V Hovland (NOR); O V Pastor (ESP); M V Veyret (FRA):
71 M A Dumont de Chassart (BEL); M A Girao (POR); M A Pedryc (POL); M C Hammer (USA); M D Gurtner (GUA); M D Imano (JPN): 71 O D Volostnykh (MDA); M H Choi (KOR); O H Zhang (CHN); M J Savoie (CAN); O K Reitan (NOR); M M Alverio (PUR); M N Hojgaard (DEN); M P Pakosch (POL); M R Lumsden (SCO); M R Pena (DOM); O T Widing (SWE):
72 M A Ortiz Becerra (MEX); M C Morikawa (USA); O E Liang (CHN); M G Morgan Birke (CHI); O J Dillas (BER); O J Freiburghaus (SUI); O J Hapgood (WAL); O J Volden (NOR); M M Honkala (FIN); M M Lee (AUS); O S Al Kaabi (QAT); M S Wools-Cobb (AUS); M V Lopes (POR); O W Campbell (BER):
73 O A Hidalgo (ESP); M A Juliusson (ISL); M C Ardila (COL); M E Restrepo (COL); M E Walker (SCO); M G Manzoni (ITA); O I Vucemil (CRO); O J Allard (ZIM); M J de Wouters d'Oplinter (BEL); M J Turba (EST); O K Al Jasmi (UAE); M K Jegers (EST); O K Kaul (IND); O K Mountcastle (NZL); O L Buerk (CRO); O L D'Souza (HKG); O L Ettlin (SUI); M L Gagne (CRC); O L Park (BRA); O M Contini (ARG); O M Jordan (ENG); M M Reyes (URU); M M Steinlechner (AUT); M O Almulla (KSA); O P Hruby (CZE); M P Mach (SVK); M R Pereda (MEX); M S Jang (KOR): M S Scott (SCO); O T Ng (HKG); O T Williams (WAL); M W Nienaber (RSA):
74 O A Bedi (IND); M A De Bondt (BEL); M A Id Omar (MAR); M B Petursson (ISL); O F Nilehn (SWE); M G Sveinbergsson (ISL); M H Bernard (CAN); M H Long (GER); M J Esteve (PUR); O J Zuska (CZE); O K Hamamoto (THA); M O Raouzi (MAR); M P Freundt-Thurne (PER); O S Kraai (NED); O S Krog (ZIM); M T Yamac (TUR):
75 M A Villavicencio Calderon (GUA); M C Hellat (EST); O C Weis (LUX); M F Alvarez (URU); O G Weis (LUX); O H Machado (BRA); M J Gandon (FRA); M L Acikalin (TUR); M M Brezovsky (SVK); O M Cheung (HKG); M N Teuten (URU); O N van Tilburg (NED); M R Camacho (GUM); O R Critien (MLT); M S Dahmane (MAR); M S Zubiate (PER); M V Mahonen (FIN); O V Potocar (SLO); O W Chothirunrungrueng (THA):
76 O A Al Shahrani (QAT); M A Ortiz (CRC); O A Schonbaum (ARG); O D Winandy (LUX); O E Schreiber (LIE); M J Ho (SGP); O J Micallef (MLT); O M Stepinac (CRO); M S Valimaki (FIN); M W Wang (TPE); M Y Ho (TPE):
77 M A Alsakha (KSA); M C Lai (TPE); M D Cvetkovic (SRB): 77 O D Ishii (BRA); M D Lee (SGP); M E Valverde A (DOM); O F Schredt (LIE); O G Markevicius (LTU); M K Attieh (KSA); O K Brauckmeyer (VEN); O K Burkelca (SLO); M M Hammer (GER); O M Ming (BER); O M Ordonez (PAN); M P Chaplet (CRC); O R Staykov (BUL); O Y Chen (CHN):
78 M H Esmer (TUR); O J Hastings (CAY); M J Szmidt (POL); M M Dimitrijevic (SRB); M M Mitchell (RSA); O M Trnovec (SLO); M P Castellanos Conde (GUA):
79 O A Jarvis (CAY); M E Morales (PUR); O J Ducruet (PAN); O J Mehu (HAI); M S Mazzoli (ITA); O S Schredt (LIE):
80 M B Lucansky (SVK); M D Poe (GUM); O J Thompson (NGR); M T Gana (CHI):
81 O A Borg (MLT); M A Terrazas (MEX); O G Inalegwu (NGR); O V Marinov (BUL):
82 O A Angel (GHA); O D Savov (BUL); O E Prieto (VEN); O P Wight (CAY); M R Manalo (GUM); O Y Dogbe (GHA):
83 O A Coica (MDA); O A Skaik (UAE); O L Cargiulo (PAN):
84 O A Illien (GAB); O M Vaicius (LTU); O R Balyan (ARM):
85 O A Podgainii (MDA); O A Radee (IRQ); O O Thompson (NGR):
86 O D Momkus (LTU); O J Al Kuwari (QAT):
87 O S Thabet (UAE):
88 O R Saint-Fort (HAI):
90 O H Al-Hashimi (IRQ); O K Kusi-Boateng (GHA):
91 O L Karakhanyan (ARM):
93 O L Barnouti (IRQ):
95 O M Brandt (HAI):
103 O A Saghatelyan (ARM):
109 O D Perez Ayo (GAB):
WDM K Nakajima (JPN).