Robin Dawson’s magic putter stirs Ireland amateurs into life

Home side are firmly in contention at Carton House after Dawson inspires team with a 65

Robin Dawson has put Ireland firmly in contention at Carton House. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Robin Dawson has put Ireland firmly in contention at Carton House. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Some guys possess a wicked grin. Add Robin Dawson to the list. There were times he used his putter like a magic wand on the greens of the Montgomerie Course at Carton House demesne in the first round of the World Amateur Team Championship and those of us looking on were in need of a calculus to figure out the length of putts he sank. Let’s just say it was a lot, and each time he greeted a disappearing ball with a shake of the head and one of those infectious smiles of his.

The upshot was that Dawson - along with team-mates Conor Purcell and John Murphy - put on a show that lifted Ireland, bronze medallists in Mexico two years ago, straight into contention in the Eisenhower Trophy.

Time and time again, Dawson studiously worked out a route, some resembling a snake’s meandering, across undulating greens to find the bottom of a tin cup. Examples: from 54 feet on the 12th (having started on the 11th); from 36 feet on the 15th; from 51 feet on the sixth. You get the drift.

Dawson - who proved there was more to his game than simply putting like a maestro by hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation in an exhibition of his tee-to-green game - opened with a 65, while Purcell and Murphy each fired 69s. With two scores counting, it meant that Ireland’s first round score of 10-under-par 134 left them in second place, behind leaders Denmark who edged ahead with a mark of 132 thanks to counting scores from John Axelsen (64) and Rasmus Hojgaard (68) with Nicolas Hojgaard’s 71 discarded.

For the Irish triumvirate of Deise-Dub-Rebel, it constituted a strong opening in front of galleries - expected to grow as the days progress - made up of family, friends, diehards and a few truant schoolchildren. And any notion that playing on home turf would only add to the pressure of expectation was refuted by the home team.

As Purcell put it, “any time you can play under pressure is somewhat a privilege; and to have all the spotlight on us, if you get a clap for hitting a good shot, it pulls us on. Once you get into the flow of things pressure becomes no-existent and you are just playing your game.”

Murphy and Purcell got off to slow starts before transforming their rounds, both players in agreement that the applause which worked its way to them from Dawson’s deeds behind them provided encouragement. Murphy, in fact, recovered from two early bogeys to go on a run of eagle-birdie-par-birdie-birdie-par-birdie before a double-bogey seven on the Par 5 fourth (his 12th) - “I was just playing table tennis with myself,” he remarked of his play around the green where he went back and forth - briefly halted his momentum, while Purcell opened with back-to-back bogeys but turned things around most impressively in hitting the birdie trail too.

Dawson, the world amateur number eight, was the star of the show however. The Waterfordman’s bogey-free round of 65 may have featured the putter as his weapon of choice in doing most damage, but the truth of the matter is that his all round game provided evidence of a player who is set to move on into the professional ranks in the very near future.

“I’m delighted with my score. We knew coming into the week it was going to be a big birdie fest; it helps drive us on when you make one and make another one and make another one. Making a lot of birdies is key out here,” said Dawson, winner of the Irish Amateur Open and runner-up in the British Amateur in a season which keeps on giving. The Irish trio cross over to the O’Meara Course for their second round with a spring in their collective step.

The Danes proved to be the surprise first round leaders ahead of Ireland, with India and Switzerland (who each started on the O’Meara) sharing third on 137. Japan’s Keita Nakajima was forced to withdraw, leaving his team with no room for manoeuvre; and Takumi Kanaya and Daiki Imano managed to produce a total of 137 to lie in fifth.

Pre-championship favourites USA - with three players inside the world’s top-seven - opened with a 140 (four-under) to lie in tied-19th, eight shots behind the Danes. “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The USA is going to be heard from. We are not done,” said team captain Tom O’Toole Jnr.

World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House, Maynooth (Eisenhower Trophy)

First Round scores:

132 Denmark (Axelsen 64, Hojgaard 71, Hojgaard 68)
134 Ireland (Murphy 69, Purcell 69, Dawson 65)
137 India (Kaul 73, Bedi 74, John Thomas 64)
137 Japan (Kanaya 66, Nakajima WD, Imano 71)
137 Switzerland (Freiburghaus 72, Cohen 65, Ettlin 73)
138 Portugal (Lopes 72, Girao 71, Lencart 67)
138 Republic of Korea (Choi 71, Jang 73, Oh 67)
139 Austria (Steinlechner 71, Regner 70, Lipold 69)
139 Canada (Bernard 74, Rank 68, Savoie 71)
139 New Zealand (Ieremia 70, Mountcastle 73, Hillier 69)
140 Chile (Morgan Birke 72, Errazuriz 68, Gana 80)
140 England (Petrozzi 70, Waite 71, Jordan 73)
140 France (Gandon 75, Lacroix 70, Veyret 71)
140 Spain (Pastor 70, Del Rey 70, Hidalgo 73)
140 Thailand (Hamamoto 74, Kaewkanjana 66, Chothirunrungrueng 75)
140 United States of America (Morikawa 72, Suh 71, Hammer 71)
141 Argentina (Schonbaum 71, Fernandez de Oliveira 68, Contini 73)
141 Australia (Lee 72, Micheluzzi 69, Wools-Cobb 71)
141 Dominican Republic (Valverde A 71, Pena 71, Guerra 70)
141 Italy (Manzoni 73, Mazzoli 79, Scalise 71)
141 Norway (Hovland 70, Reitan 71, Volden 71)
141 Sweden (Widing 71, Gillberg 70, Nilehn 74) 
141 Wales (Chamberlain 69, Hapgood 72, Williams 71)
141 Zimbabwe (Allard 73, Amm 68, Krog 74)
142 Czech Republic (Zuska 71, Hruby 73, Zach 71)
142 Poland (Pakosch 71, Pedryc 71, Szmidt 71)
143 Colombia (Ramirez Velandia 70, Restrepo 73, Ardila 73)
143 Germany (Hammer 77, Long 74, John 69)
143 Peoples Republic of China (Chen 77, Liang 72, Zhang 71)
143 South Africa (Saulez 70, Nienaber 73, Mitchell 78)
144 Belgium (Dumont de Chassart 71, De Bondt 74, de Wouters d’Oplinter 73)
144 Bermuda (Dillas 72, Ming 77, Campbell 72)
144 Netherlands (Ji 70, Kraai 74, van Tilburg 71)
144 Peru (Zubiate 71, Freundt-Thurne 74, Barco 70)
144 Scotland (Lumsden 71, Scott 71, Walker 71)
145 Mexico (Pereda 73, Terrazas 71, Ortiz Becerra 72)
145 Puerto Rico (Esteve 74, Alverio 71, Morales 79)
145 Venezuela (Garcia 68, Brauckmeyer 77, Prieto 82)
146 Croatia (Buerk 73, Stepinac 71, Vucemil 71)
146 Estonia (Hellat 75, Jegers 73, Turba 71)
146 Guatemala (Villavicencio Calderon 71, Castellanos Conde 78, Gurtner 71)
146 Hong Kong, China (Cheung 75, D’Souza 82, Ng 73)
146 Singapore (Ho 76, Lee 77, Foo 70)
147 Finland (Mahonen 75, Honkala 72, Valimaki 71)
147 Iceland (Sveinbergsson 71, Juliusson 73, Petursson 74)
147 Serbia (Cvetkovic 77, Dimitrijevic 78, Gudelj 70)
148 Brazil (Ishii 77, Park 73, Machado 75)
148 Morocco (Id Omar 74, Raouzi 74, Dahmane 75)
148 Qatar (Al Kaabi 72, Al Kuwari 86, Al Shahrani 76)
148 Slovakia (Brezovsky 75, Mach 73, Lucansky 80)
148 Uruguay (Reyes 73, Teuten 71, Alvarez 75)
149 Costa Rica (Gagne 73, Chaplet 77, Ortiz 76)
149 Turkey (Esmer 78, Yamac 71, Acikalin 75)
150 Luxembourg (Weis 71, Weis 71, Winandy 71)
150 Saudi Arabia (Almulla 73, Alsakha 77, Attieh 77)
151 Malta (Borg 81, Critien 75, Micallef 76)
152 Slovenia (Trnovec 71, Potocar 75, Burkelca 77)
152 Taipei, Chinese (Wang 71, Lai 77, Ho 76)
153 Liechtenstein (Schredt 71, Schreiber 71, Schredt 71)
154 Republic of Moldova (Coica 83, Volostnykh 71, Podgainii 85)
155 Guam (Camacho 75, Manalo 82, Poe 80)
156 Panama (Ducruet 79, Cargiulo 83, Ordonez 77)
156 United Arab Emirates (Al Jasmi 73, Skaik 71, Thabet 71)
157 Cayman Islands (Hastings 78, Wight 71, Jarvis 79)
158 Bulgaria (Marinov 81, Savov 71, Staykov 71)
161 Lithuania (Vaicius 71, Momkus 86, Markevicius 77)
161 Nigeria (Thompson 71, Inalegwu 81, Thompson 71)
164 Ghana (Angel 82, Dogbe 82, Kusi-Boateng 90)
167 Haiti (Brandt 95, Saint-Fort 88, Mehu 79)
175 Armenia (Balyan 84, Karakhanyan 91, Saghatelyan 103)
175 Iraq (Al-Hashimi 90, Barnouti 93, Radee 85)
193 Gabon (Illien 84, Perez Ayo 109)

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