Gordon Sargent (International Golf Federation Photo)
France and the United States of America stand atop a crowded leaderboard after the first round of the 33rd World Amateur Team Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Wednesday.
Fueled by a pair of 5-under 67’s from 15-year-old Hugo Le Goff
and world No. 2 Gordon Sargent
, France and the USA hold a one-stroke lead over The Netherlands.
Sargent, the lone returning American from last year’s bronze-medal finish, shot one of four bogey-free rounds on Wednesday.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” said Sargent, the 2023 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner. “I hit it well all day. I was just trying to keep the ball in front of me and keep giving myself chances. It’s super nice not to have a bunch of stress on yourself. I just stayed focused on playing good golf and helping the team out.”
, who secured the clinching point for the USA in last month’s Walker Cup Match on the Old Course at St Andrews, added a 4-under 68 with seven birdies.
“The biggest strength for David was that he came back after a difficult start, being 2-over after three holes,” said USA Captain Mark Newell. “He made a couple of stroke-saving shots at [holes] two and nine, and then he just turned it on.”
All three of France’s players carded rounds of 68 or better in the early wave of the morning. Teammates Bastien Amat
(counting) and Paul Beauvy
(non-counting) shot a pair of 68’s behind Le Goff’s 67, leading France to a 9-under total of 135 to match the Americans.
Only two of each team’s best three scores count toward the total.
“We are happy with the strong start,” said French Captain Antoine Delon. “It’s difficult to play in this temperature, but we had good preparation, the course is perfect, and the players were very solid. We had no faults. No double bogeys on the team and so many birdies and good putting.”
Le Goff, the fifth-youngest player in the field, played the final three holes in 3 under par, highlighted by a chip-in eagle on the par-5 eighth.
“I sliced my 3-wood 10 meters right of the green and then hit a 60-degree shot and it rolled and went in,” said Le Goff. “Today, my chipping was really good. I had some incredible short game.”
The Netherlands’ Benjamin Reuter
had the individual low round of the day, a 6-under 66, and teammate Jack Ingham
added a 70 to position the Dutch in solo third place. Reuter, who plays at Georgia Tech University, registered three birdies and an eagle in his final seven holes.
(3-under 69) and Jacob Olesen
(4-under 68) led an afternoon charge for Denmark, who shares fourth with Argentina, Australia and England, two strokes behind the leaders.
“They stayed patient and went about what they had to do,” said Denmark Captain Martin Raal Kold. “We’re a couple of shots from where we hope to be but there’s a lot of golf still to be played.”
The host country United Arab Emirates stands in 35th place after Round 1.
ABOUT THE Men's World Amateur Team
In 1958 the United States Golf Association
asked The R&A to join them in sponsoring
a world-wide amateur golf team event to
be played biennially in non-Walker Cup
years. Between 35 and 40 nations were
represented at the first meeting and
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
presented the trophy which bears his
name. The committee of the event was to
be known as the World Amateur Golf
Council and is now the International Golf
Federation. Teams of four players from
each country competed over 72 holes with
the leading three scores from each round
to count. The first competition was held
between 29 nations at St Andrews, with
Australia beating the United States in a
play-off. In 2002 the format changed to
teams of three with the two leading
scores to count.
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