ANTALYA, Turkey (Oct. 6, 2012) -- The USA, after setting scoring marks in the first two rounds, continued to maintain its lead Saturday as the third round was suspended at the weather-shortened 2012 World Amateur Team Championship (WATC).
Chris Williams, of Moscow, Idaho, who had posted scores of 64 and 67 in the first two rounds, leads the USA, which was 24 under par for the championship through the first seven holes of the third round and was eight strokes better than defending champion France, which had all three players complete seven holes and was 16 under.
Williams, No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), and teammate Justin Thomas, of Goshen, Ky., No. 3 in the WAGR, were both 2 under through seven holes at Antalya Golf Club. Steven Fox, the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion from Hendersonville, Tenn., was even par through seven.
“It was solid play but there were not as many birdies,” said USA captain Jim Vernon. “The play was solid. There is still a lot of golf to play but we are in the best position. I think with a good night’s sleep they will come out and perform great.”
The 2012 championship was shortened from 72 holes to 54 holes following a weather delay that allowed only six teams to finish the second round on Friday. The second round was completed Saturday with the USA holding a six-stroke advantage over the Republic of Korea with its 36-hole scoring mark of 266.
Following the completion of the second round, 36 teams started the third round Saturday afternoon and 36 teams will begin their third rounds on Sunday.
Earlier Saturday, Williams (67) and Fox (68) combined for a 7-under 135 in the second round to help the USA break the 36-hole scoring mark of 266, held by the gold medal-winning USA team of 2004 in Puerto Rico.
The USA began its second round Friday, playing just three holes before completing the round on Saturday morning. The third round began at 3 p.m. Saturday and will be completed on Sunday.
“My play is as good as it’s ever been,” said Williams after the second round. “You get in stretches where everything goes your way and everything just goes right.”
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 54-hole total is the team’s score for the championship.
Fox, a senior at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, changed putters right before the WATC.
“I putted really well today,” he said. “I put in a new putter for this week and I finally got it going. I’ve done it countless times. I guess it’s called ‘new putter syndrome.’ It just gives me confidence.”
Thomas said the Americans like their position on the scoreboard but will not be complacent.
“There are 71 other teams that would like to trade places with us,” said Thomas, a University of Alabama sophomore. “We are in a good spot but we’ve got to keep building the lead.”
Mexico is in third place (through seven holes) at 14 under; the Republic of Korea is fourth (through seven holes) at 13 under; and Germany is fifth (through 11 holes) at 12 under.
The host team from Turkey is tied for 35th at 291 through two rounds.
The 36 leading teams played at Antalya Golf Club in the third round and the other 36 teams played at Cornelia Golf Club.
The winning team takes custody of the Eisenhower Trophy for the ensuing two years and each team member receives a gold medal. The second-place team members receive silver medals and the third-place team receives bronze medals.
On Sunday, the USA will be vying to win its 14th championship and first since 2004.