TEAM MALTA PLACES 50TH IN JAPAN
Photo courtesy of the USGA – www.usga.org. All Rights Reserved.
The World Amateur Team Championships came to an end last Saturday with Team America retaining the Eisenhower Trophy through an aggregate score of -38 two ahead of Canada. Team Malta composed of Daniel Holland, Andy Borg and JJ Micallef finished a credible 50th place out of 67 teams with a score of +24.
The result reflects an improvement of 15 places from Team Malta’s first showing in these Championships in Turkey two years ago plus a team score of 44 strokes to the better. Furthermore whilst in 2012 Malta’s team score was 92 strokes behind the USA, this year’s result narrowed this deficit to 62 – an improvement of 30 strokes.
With the two best out of three scores counting on each day, the result is a combined effort of the three players with Andy showing the way for his two younger colleagues throughout the four days of the championships.
Andy’s four rounds consisted of 7 birdies, 49 pars, 14 bogeys and 2 double bogeys for an overall score of +11. His +1 first round was successively followed by +4; +2 and +4. Andy’s fighting spirit manifested itself mainly in his second round when after four holes he had already dropped four shots. He followed these with 9 successive pars and a birdie which was then followed by two more pars, a bogey and a par to finish off with. Starting his final 4th round at 6:50 am, Andy remained +7 for the tournament until the very last four holes when he dropped four shots to place him 132nd from 200 players.
JJ and Daniel both played to +20 for the tournament to tie them for an individual placing of 153. Their performance over the four days dove-tailed each other so that their scores alternated on each successive day to be aggregated with those of Andy.
JJ’s +3, +4, +8 and +5 scores comprised 5 birdies, 44 pars, 21 bogeys and 2 double bogeys whilst Danny’s +6, +2, +3 and +9 scores were composed of 5 birdies, 46 pars, 17 bogeys and 4 double bogeys. The score cards from these younger players indicate steady playing throughout the tournament dotted with bleeding over two or three successive holes before focus was re-established. Golf’s peculiarity with tee times meant that our players had their last three rounds starting around 7:00 am (ahead of midnight Malta time).
Malta’s 50th place reflected a result better than that of countries like Russia, Serbia and Greece and not far behind Turkey. Of other particular interest to us was the fact that Malta was the only team from the smaller states of Europe that travelled to these Championships.
The overall team scores reflect quite an accordion affect with nine teams having a tournament score of -30 or better; nine other teams with a score better than -20; fourteen teams with a score of -10 or better; 10 teams of a score better than scratch before a sudden drop in performance by the remaining teams. The host country’s team placed 29th with a team score of -7.
This was the USA’s 15th win in the Eisenhower Trophy and was clinched despite Canada’s and Spain’s charges in the final round through respective team scores of -11 and -10 to the USA’s -7. In fact the championship was tied at 37 under par between the USA and Canada with only one hole to play.
America’s DeChambeau (who, in the third round, had shot 61 – the lowest round in the tournament’s history) nailed a nine-foot birdie to clinch the trophy for the Americans who ended up with a record score of 534 eclipsing the 554 total of the Netherlands in 2006 by 20 strokes.
Spain’s Jon Rahm with an individual score of 263 (-23) broke yet another record for these Championships – a record that had been set by Jack Nicklaus in 1960. Rahm improved Nicklaus’ individual score by six shots.
Team Malta’s positive experience in this tournament could not have been possible without the assistance of Nick Borg who acted as team manager and thus absorbing the day to day official duties.
This trip to Japan has been possibly through the coaching and competition assistance of the Malta Sports Council, the Maltese Olympic Committee and the R&A.
The next WATC will be held in Mexico 2016 followed by Ireland in 2018.