KARUIZAWA, Japan (September 3, 2014) – Bolstered by a 6-under-par 66 from 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Brooke Mackenzie Henderson and a 69 from Augusta James, Canada posted a record score of 9-under 135 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the 2014 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (WWATC) at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
Canada’s 135 is the lowest first-round score in WWATC history, bettering the previous mark of 136 by the USA in 2010. The Republic of Korea, the two-time defending champion, is second at 137, followed by France at 140 in third. India, the Republic of Ireland and Italy are tied for fourth at 3-under 141.
The USA, behind a 4-under 68 from Alison Lee and a 74 from U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman, is tied for seventh at 2-under 142 with Mexico, South Africa and Spain.
Henderson, 16, who is No. 2 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, posted four birdies through her first seven holes and finished without a bogey on the par-72 Oshitate Course. Her 66 is tied for the second-lowest first-round score in WWATC history. Henderson, the low amateur at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, won the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Tour Quebec at age 14.
“My ball-striking was very good today,” said Henderson. “I gave myself a lot of chances coming in. I had four or five chances from inside 15 feet, but I didn’t make them all. We knew it was important to get some solid rounds in and now we have to follow that up.”
The 21-year-old James, who made five birdies against two bogeys, is a senior at North Carolina State and the 2014 Canadian Women’s Amateur champion.
Both Henderson and James are playing in their second WWATC. Brittany Marchand posted a non-counting 1-under 71 for Canada.
The Republic of Korea, vying to become the first team to win three consecutive Espirito Santo Trophies since the USA in 1980, 1982 and 1984, was led by So-Young Lee, 17, the gold medalist at the recent Youth Olympic Games in China, who fired a 5-under 67 on the Oshitate Course. Her teammate Hye-Jin Choi shot a 2-under 70.
France’s Mathilda Cappeliez (69) and Celine Boutier (71) combined for the team’s 4-under total. Both players competed in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, and the latter led Duke to the 2014 NCAA Division I championship.
The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 137 national governing bodies in 131 countries. The competition, which is being held for the 26th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa.
This year’s event is hosted by the Japan Golf Association. The teams play for the Espirito Santo 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.
Lee, a quarterfinalist at last month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur and No. 3 in the WWAGR, turned her day around with a birdie at No. 11 on the Oshitate Course.
“The first nine holes, I was 1 over and my putting wasn’t that good,” said Lee, a sophomore at UCLA and a member of this year’s victorious Curtis Cup Team. “They weren’t dropping and it was a little frustrating.”
The USA also received a non-counting 77 from 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Emma Talley. The USA owns a record 13 victories in the event, but has not claimed the Espirito Santo Trophy since 1998.
“There is still a lot of golf left. I know the other guys didn’t play as well as they can, so I wasn’t too disappointed,” added Lee. “It’s not over yet.”
World No. 1 Minjee Lee shot a 73 on the Iriyama Course for Australia, which is tied for 16th with the host country Japan. Lee, the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, was awarded the 2014 McCormack Medal last week for being the leading female amateur in the WAGR.