ANTALYA, Turkey (Oct. 4, 2012) -- The USA broke the all-time record for lowest 18-hole team score with a 13-under-par 131 Thursday to take a four-stroke lead over Mexico after the first round of the 2012 World Amateur Team Championship (WATC).
Chris Williams, of Moscow, Idaho, and Justin Thomas, of Goshen, Ky., shot 64 and 67, respectively, to top the previous mark of 132, which was accomplished three times: 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. Steven Fox, the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion from Hendersonville, Tenn., registered a non-counting 1-under 71.
“We’ve got some horses,” said USA captain Jim Vernon, who is a past USGA president from Pasadena, Calif. “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, No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), 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 senior at the University of Washington who played on the 2011 USA 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 6-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 8 under. Defending champion France, also playing at Antalya Golf Club, stands tied for fourth at 7 under with Netherlands and Spain, which played at Cornelia Golf Club.
Canada, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are tied for seventh at 6 under. England is 10th at 5 under and Austria and Malaysia are tied for 11th at 4 under.
The host team from Turkey is tied for 34th.