SA start solid as Scotland leads WATC in Mexico

RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico (22 September 2016) – Scotland opened with a 10-under-par 134 lead Australia by one stroke, while South Africa tied for 22nd with Finland, Iceland, Italy and the host nation Mexico in the first round of the Eisenhower Trophy at the 30th World Amateur Team Championship (WATC) on Wednesday.

SA number one Jovan Rebula led the team in round one of the World Amateur Team Championship; credit SAGA
SA number one Jovan Rebula led the team in round one of the World Amateur Team Championship; credit SAGA

Connor Syme led Scotland with a 66 – the low round of the day – at the par-72 Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club. The reigning Australian Amateur carded a five under 31 on his outward nine and finished with seven birdies and one bogey.

Grant Forrest, a member of the winning 2015 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team, added a four-under-par 68, while Robert MacIntyre posted a non-counting 69.

Meanwhile South Africa finished among the 26 teams in the 71-strong field that broke par in the first round, despite a delayed start due to torrential rain at the tougher Mayakoba El Camaleon Golf Club.

Marco Steyn launched their campaign with an even-par 71, Jovan Rebula shot 70 and Dylan Naidoo returned a non-counting 75.

“The boys were dejected having been in a great position at five under through 13 holes, but they just didn’t finish as neatly as they would have wanted,” said manager Eden Thompson.

“Marco had a nervy start and pulled his tee shot at the opening hole. He only just managed to chip it out of the thick rough, but he holed a 30 footer for par to settle down for the round. He birdied both the short holes on the front nine and made a great par save at the ninth after pulled his drive slightly left and found the greenside bunker.

“The sand was still wet from the earlier deluge, but he parked his trap shot eight inches from the hole and made the par putt. He also parred the first three holes after the turn. Although he missed the green right and hit a poor chip at 13, he holed the birdie putt to four under.

“Unfortunately a poor tee shot at 14 sent him into the hazard right. After the drop, he hit five iron to the small green, but missed the bogey putt and was back to two under. At the short 15th, he went for the flag but the spin caught a severe slope off the green. His ball came up against the collar of the rough, resulting in another bogey. He parred 16, three-putted 17 and narrowly missed a birdie at 18.

Rebula also battled with a nervy start and couldn’t convert for four-footer to save par at the first.

“Despite some poor drives over the next couple of holes, he made a number of good par saves,” said Thompson. “I had a brief chat to him at the seventh, and whether or not it had anything to do with what I said, he settled into a solid round from there.”

Rebula hit his approach into 11 past the flag, but the back spin left him about four feet from the hole and he holed the birdie-putt to get to level par. He hit a superb second on the green at the par five 13th hole, but regrettably he missed the six footer for eagle.

“He got the birdie to go one under and, after a great up and down from left of the green on 15, he hit another majestic approach at 16 to just five feet,” said Thompson. “Unfortunately than one slipped by as well and he finished with pars.”

Naidoo slightly pulled tee shot at the second, but this seemed to set the tone for his day.

“Dylan battled to get comfortable off the tee,” Thompson said. “A mix of decent tee shots with a number of misses meant he was always fighting for pars.

“Although he hit some fantastic iron shots to keep him with chances, he could not convert many par putts, which is troublesome as the Mayakoba layout doesn’t offer that many birdie chances. A definitely positive for Dylan round was his iron play and he hopes to get the wayward driver sorted out on the range before the second round.

“The last five holes cost us and we now need to make up some serious ground at Iberostar to get back into the mix. On a whole, the guys are playing well. The secret now is to get as much out of the round as possible without pushing too hard. The old cliché…….be patient, keep making good decisions, trust your ability and the birdies will come.

Meanwhile Spain finished in third place at eight under, while Ireland, Poland, and Thailand finished in a tie for fourth at six-under.  The USA, France, Japan, and Switzerland share seventh at five-under.

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