The World Amateur Teams Championship managed to produce two startling results in Ireland in September with Denmark snaring their first Eisenhower Trophy title and the US winning its first Espirito Santo trophy in 20 years.
The Danes, bolstered by the stellar play of 17-year-old identical twins Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard, held off a surging field to win its first crown by one shot from the USA with a 39-under-par 541 total.
They claimed the Eisenhower Trophy in their 25th appearance as Nicolai Hojgaard, the 2018 European Amateur champion, posted a 7-under-par 66 and his brother Rasmus fired a six-under-67 for a team total of 13-under-par 133 on the par-73 O’Meara Course. Teammate John Axelsen posted a non-counting four-under 69. Previously, in 2010, Denmark had claimed the silver medal.
“It means a lot,” said six-time Danish captain Torben Nyehuus. “Everybody is watching. It’s just amazing. I was with the team in 2010 when we came in second, so this is just amazing. It’s pretty nice to go one better.”
Nicolai notched five birdies in his final nine holes and Rasmus logged three as they took the lead from a tightly packed leaderboard. Four teams, Denmark, USA, Spain and New Zealand, were tied at 34-under as the last groups made the turn.
“I feel wonderful,” said Nicolai.
“This is a dream come true for all of us. I had a tough start to this tournament, so I was just trying to play some good rounds to help the team. I did that the last two rounds so this is perfect.
“This is the biggest team event we could have won and to do it with Rasmus is perfect. But, also with John, John is a great friend and we are all having fun. This is just wonderful.”
The USA used a strong finish by University of Texas freshman and 2018 US Amateur semi-finalist Cole Hammer (seven-under 66) and University of Southern California senior Justin Suh (four-under 69) to pass Spain for the silver medal at 38-under-par 542.
“It says a lot,” said Hammer, the 2018 US Amateur Four-Ball champion.
“It speaks a lot to the way our team jelled and how much fun we had together. When you are having fun playing golf, good things happen. To medal in my first international competition, especially on a stage as big as this, is really special.”
Spain took the bronze medal at 36-under 544. New Zealand, which held the lead through 36 and 54 holes, was fourth at 545, followed by Norway, Italy and Thailand tied for fifth at 548; England in eighth at 549, Canada in ninth at 550 and host Ireland and Germany tied for 10th at 553.
Although there is no official recognition, Spain’s Alejandro “Alex” Del Rey was the low individual scorer at 23-under 267. He and England’s Matthew Jordan shot the low scores in the fourth round at eight-under 65.
Meanwhile, the USA made up for the slender loss by the men’s team when they collected the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship for the Espirito Santo Trophy for the 14th time with a flourish.
Led by nearly perfect scoring conditions and the performances of Kristen Gillman, who has won the 2016 and 2018 US Women’s Amateur championship, and McCormack Medal winner Jennifer Kupcho, the USA eased to a 10-stroke victory over Japan on the O’Meara Course for its first gold since 1998 in Chile.
“I am so proud of these girls,” American captain Stasia Collins said.
“I am so proud of this team, and I am really happy for them and thrilled for the United States. They will always be known as the gold medal winners for the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships – no one can take that away from us.”
The USA, in winning its first medal since Argentina in 2010, posted a 29-under-par 551.
Gillman was the driving force of the day, making an eagle and four birdies against one bogey in her first nine holes to make the turn at five-under. She added a birdie on the 13th en route to six-under 67.
Kupcho fired a four-under-69 to give the USA a 10-under fourth-round total of 136. She and Gillman and Lillia Vu were also members of the victorious USA Curtis Cup Team in June.
“We have the strong bond already from the beginning, especially yesterday when we were all struggling we all fought for each other,” said Kupcho, who won the NCAA Women’s individual title in 2018.
“We all wanted to win for each other, and I think that was a big thing coming out of yesterday. And, I think that’s how we got our big lead coming into today.
Japan’s first appearance on the medal podium in 28 appearances was formulated by a pair of three-under 70s from 18-year-olds Yuri Yoshida and Yuna Nishimura.
Their final total was 19-under 561. Previously, its best finish was fourth in 1984.
Defending champion Republic of Korea stalled in its attempt to overtake the USA and captured the bronze medal, which is its fifth consecutive medal-winning performance.
The Koreans, who had won three of the previous four WWATCs, withstood a late rally from fourth-place China to finish at 18-under 562
– Courtesy the International Golf Federation