Schoolgirls and grandmothers alike battle on golf’s world stage

At the World Amateur Team Championships in Carton House the competition is fierce

Annabel Wilson tees off at the seventh during the first round of the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship (Esprito Santo Trophy) at Carton House. Photo: Pat Cashman

Annabel Wilson tees off at the seventh during the first round of the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship (Esprito Santo Trophy) at Carton House. Photo: Pat Cashman

 

Here we are tramping through knee high grass to the right of the 13th fairway. The least-stressed person is the girl with the studs in her left ear, the square glasses and a pigtail tied with a green ribbon, the girl whose ball the thin gallery are looking for.

Annabel Wilson is 17-years-old. Out among the bunkers of the Montgomerie Course and the beech trees of the O’Meara Course at Carton House is 16-year-old Mohan Du and 15-year-old Ruoning Yin from China.

Beatriz Arenas of Guatemala is also among them. This is no junior event. It is the World Amateur Team Championships and Ms Beatriz is 70-years-old.

Just 50 yards away from Wilson’s buried drive is the ball of the American world number one Jennifer Kupcho. Sitting pretty, middle of the fairway. She is the heir apparent to Leona Maguire, now launched into the professional ranks.

Wilson plays her second to the fourth. Photo: Pat Cashman
Wilson plays her second to the fourth. Photo: Pat Cashman

Kupcho will collect the McCormack medal at the gala dinner in Maynooth University on Saturday as the world’s best amateur player with the name Maguire listed twice underneath.

Wilson does not know it but Du will shoot a six under par 67 on the O’Meara course to Wilson’s one under 71 on the Montgomerie strip on the first day of the Espirito Santo Trophy, a golfing behemoth of 57 competing national teams.

Andy, originally from The Wirrel in Liverpool and father of Wilson, first took his daughter golfing at Silverwood, a public course in Craigavon.

She was eight-years-old and brought just one club to hit a ball around. Six years later as a 14-year-old she won the Ulster Girls Championship, Leinster Girls Championship and Irish girls Close in a 20-day window. She will take up a golf scholarship in UCLA in September 2019.

“I’m going to take an unplayable, “ shouts Wilson from the 13th rough across to Kupcho after USA team captain Stasia Collins finds the Irish girl’s ball. The world number one nods.

The opening round of the four day event is a sunny, breezy day. The par fours into wind are long and barely makeable in two, the cross winds capricious and needing to be played. Or as Wilson found on a wavering day off the tee, it will play you.

On the 14th and blowing into her face Kupcho will fly her tee shot beyond the fairway bunkers. On the green she will raise her arms in faux celebration when a putt finally drops. There’s a player who gives herself looks.

“When you are ranked that high, that’s pressure,” says team captain Collins of the world number one. Her girl will finish the day tied-eighth at two under alongside Ireland’s Olivia Mehaffy, who also shot and opening 70 with Wilson tied-13th one shot back.

“We were playing the tougher course to start. First off playing with the Republic of Korea and the US is always nice. It’s good to test our game against those,” says Irish team captain Danielle McVeigh.

Ireland’s third player on the team, Paula Grant finished her first round two over with the best two scores, coming from Mehaffey and Wilson, putting Ireland in tied-fourth, two places above the USA with Japan leading and the People’s Republic of China in second. Germany, Republic of Korea and Austria are tied-third with Ireland and Australia in sixth place.

For Wilson it was a day to see close up what it takes to become the number one amateur in the world. Although at 17 and a bronze medal winner in this event from two years ago with Ireland, her eyes have been opened. It’s not certain she needs to see very much.

“I wasn’t sure she was one (in the world),” said the teenager of her American partner Kupcho, celebrating a charming teenage self consumption. “No...she was really nice...I did know she was the top three in the world.”

On day one of feeling out the field on Montgomerie and day two of doing the same on O’Meara, the Irish mood was more swinging up than flat or down.

“My iron play today was very solid. I gave myself a lot of chances,” added the Lurgan teenager. “Off the tee it was playing with what I got. Just trying to poke them on the fairway because some of them were wild.”

Olivia Mehaffey (Ireland) tees off at the 18th. Photo: Pat Cashman
Olivia Mehaffey (Ireland) tees off at the 18th. Photo: Pat Cashman

Thursday on O’Meara and patience may play its part. More birdies were coming in from the shorter course. The players had more wedges in their hands. The scores were lower.

The feeling was not to rush headlong in. Play the right shots, don’t force things, don’t expect the course to give handouts and don’t tell Annabel.

“More wedge play shots tomorrow so...plenty of birdies,” declares the schoolgirl with disarming cheer and a few wry smiles from her team. Dropping it like that you just got to love her.

And 70-year-old Ms Beatrix? Chapeau. Eight over.

Championship standings after round one

136 Japan (Yoshida 71, Yasuda 65, Nishimura 71)

140 People’s Republic of China (Du 67, Liu 77, Yin 73)

140 Republic of Korea (Kwon 74, Hong 72, Cho 68)

141 Australia (Kay 68, Kim 73, Hodgkins 75)

141 Ireland (Mehaffey 70, Grant 74, Wilson 71)

142 Austria (Bettel 69, Ruettimann 76, Spitz 73)

142 Germany (Harm 70, Hausmann 73, Henseleit 72)

142 United States of America (Gillman 74, Vu 72, Kupcho 70)

143 Italy (Don 70, Paltrinieri 76, Nobilio 73)

144 Hong Kong, China (Cheung 70, Ho 74, Leung 78)

145 Venezuela (Raga 73, Gilly 84, De Antonio 72)

147 Belgium (Aveling 78, Louis 73, Van Dievoet 74)

147 Denmark (Fredgaard 79, Nielsen 75, Hansen 72)

147 Mexico (Lopez 73, Ruiz Laphond 79, Fassi 74)

147 Netherlands (Bontan 72, Meekers 75, Weber 77)

147 Sweden (Kinhult 74, Wallin 80, Grant 73)

147 Switzerland (Valenzuela 73, Berger 79, Moosmann 74)

147 Thailand (Boon-In 77, Piddon 70, Tatematsu 77)

148 Dominican Republic (Corrie-Kuehn 82, Kim 77, Kuehn 71)

148 Finland (Backman 75, Saksa 76, Riihijarvi 73)

148 France (Roussin-Bouchard 72, Broze 76, Laisne 76)

148 Guatemala (Echeverria 73, Mendizabal Riepele 75, Arenas 81)

148 New Zealand (Alvarez 73, Garvey 76, Keh 75)

148 Scotland (Jaffrey 74, McCook 77, McWilliam 74)

149 England (Fuller 74, Muse 77, Lamb 75)

149 Paraguay (Escauriza Stoeckl 72, Garcia Peralta 83, Servin 77)

150 Czech Republic (Ryskova 77, Vlasinova 77, Kouskova 73)

150 Morocco (Laklalech 78, Rich 84, Belmati 72)

150 Norway (Stormo 77, Forbrigd 73, Hjelle Grimstad 78)

150 Puerto Rico (Rodriguez 77, Rivera 75, Pacheco Claudio 75)

150 South Africa (Telfer 75, Mistry 79, MacNab 75)

151 India (Dagar 74, Dilawari 77, Sagoo 78)

152 Argentina (Anacona 75, Rossi 79, Simmermacher 77)

152 Spain (Marfa Sans 80, Hualde Zuniga 77, Perez Sanmartin 75)

153 Chinese Taipei (Lin 74, Lin 79, Huang 79)

154 Brazil (Grinberg 74, Lacaz Martins 88, de Araujo Caetano 80)

154 Canada (Ko 78, Lee 76, Szeryk 80)

154 Chile (Morgan 78, Matte 80, Villavicencio 76)

154 Colombia (Garces Escalante 75, Giraldo Roys 83, Serrano Silva 79)

154 Malaysia (Shaari 78, Wong 76, Durisic 78)

154 Uruguay (Schmid 76, Marques 79, Garcia Austt Marques 78)

155 Iceland (Kristinsdottir 85, Traustadottir 76, Einarsdottir 79)

155 Lithuania (Jarasunaite 80, Starkute 75)

157 Peru (Farah 75, Ballesteros 82, Fernandez-Davila 82)

157 Slovakia (Heckova 80, Drocarova 81, Bolcikova 77)

157 Wales (Morris 79, Ryan 81, O’Connor 78)

158 Portugal (Barroso Sa 80, Bessa 78, Gouveia 81)

158 Singapore (Chen 82, Ng 79, Tan 79)

159 Poland (Polivchak 87, Gradecka 76, Zalewska 83)

160 Slovenia (Fric 81, Obersnel 73, Jecnik 83)

161 Turkey (Ersoy 83, Bilgic 80, Timur 81)

162 Guam (Tarpley 87, Vongjalorn 78, Peterson 84)

165 Bulgaria (Borisova 82, Simeonova 83, Skokanska 90)

165 Latvia (Gustafssone 89, Jucmane 79, Marksa 86)

168 Lebanon (Assaf 100, Richani 79, Assaf 89)

168 Tunisia (Ladhari 86, Mansouri 84, Saki 84)

169 Ukraine (Rastvortseva 81, Horokhovska 88, Sapronova 98)

Round one individual scores (complete)

M = Montgomerie Course

O = O’Meara Course

65 M Y Yasuda (JPN);

67 O M Du (CHN);

68 M A Cho (KOR); M R Kay (AUS);

69 O L Bettel (AUT);

70 M C Don (ITA); M J Kupcho (USA); O L Harm (GER); O M Cheung (HKG); M O Mehaffey (IRL); M T Piddon (THA);

71 M A Wilson (IRL); O R Kuehn (DOM); M Y Nishimura (JPN); M Y Yoshida (JPN);

72 O C De Antonio (VEN); O E Henseleit (GER); O L Belmati (MAR); M L Vu (USA); M M Escauriza Stoeckl (PAR); M M Hansen (DEN); O P Roussin-Bouchard (FRA); M Y Hong (KOR); M Z Bontan (NED);

73 M A Nobilio (ITA); O A Raga (VEN); M A Valenzuela (SUI); O C Lopez (MEX); M C Louis (BEL); O D Forbrigd (NOR); O E Spitz (AUT); M G Kim (AUS); M J Alvarez (NZL); O K Riihijarvi (FIN); M L Grant (SWE); O P Echeverria (GUA); O R Yin (CHN); O S Hausmann (GER); O S Kouskova (CZE);

74 M A Fuller (ENG); O C Jaffrey (SCO); M D Dagar (IND); M E Moosmann (SUI); M E Van Dievoet (BEL); M F Kinhult (SWE); M K Gillman (USA); O L Grinberg (BRA);

74 O M Fassi (MEX); O M Ho (HKG); M P Grant (IRL); M S Kwon (KOR); O S McWilliam (SCO); O T Lin (TPE);

75 O A Backman (FIN); O C MacNab (RSA); M E Anacona (ARG); O G Starkute (LTU); O J Rivera (PUR); M K Hodgkins (AUS); O K Telfer (RSA); M M Farah (PER); O M Perez Sanmartin (ESP); M R Meekers (NED); M S Garces Escalante (COL); M S Lamb (ENG); M S Nielsen (DEN); O V Mendizabal Riepele (GUA); O V Pacheco Claudio (PUR); M W Keh (NZL);

76 M A Garvey (NZL); O A Laisne (FRA); M D Gradecka (POL); O E Broze (FRA); M E Paltrinieri (ITA); O E Saksa (FIN); M G Wong (MAS); M J Lee (CAN); O J Ruettimann (AUT); M N Villavicencio (CHI); M P Schmid (URU); O S Traustadottir (ISL);

77 M A Bolcikova (SVK); M A Servin (PAR); M D Weber (NED); O E Hualde Zuniga (ESP); O H McCook (SCO); M H Muse (ENG); O H Ryskova (CZE); O K Stormo (NOR); O K Vlasinova (CZE); M M Simmermacher (ARG); M N Boon-In (THA); M R Dilawari (IND); M R Tatematsu (THA); O W Liu (CHN); O Y Kim (DOM); O Y Rodriguez (PUR);

78 M C Aveling (BEL); O I Laklalech (MAR); O I Leung (HKG);

78 M K O’Connor (WAL); O L Bessa (POR); M L Durisic (MAS); M N Ko (CAN); O N Vongjalorn (GUM); O R Hjelle Grimstad (NOR); M S Garcia Austt Marques (URU); M S Morgan (CHI); M S Sagoo (IND); M S Shaari (MAS);

79 O A Ruiz Laphond (MEX); M B Morris (WAL); O H Einarsdottir (ISL); M I Ng (SGP); M J Marques (URU); M K Fredgaard (DEN); O K Lin (TPE); O K Mistry (RSA); M M Jucmane (LAT); M M Serrano Silva (COL); M S Tan (SGP); M V Obersnel (SLO); O V Richani (LBN); M V Rossi (ARG); M Y Berger (SUI); O Y Huang (TPE);

80 M A Matte (CHI); M B Wallin (SWE); M D Bilgic (TUR); O L de Araujo Caetano (BRA); M M Szeryk (CAN); M N Heckova (SVK); O P Marfa Sans (ESP); O S Barroso Sa (POR); O S Jarasunaite (LTU);

81 O B Arenas (GUA); O E Rastvortseva (UKR); M I Fric (SLO); M J Ryan (WAL); M K Drocarova (SVK); O S Gouveia (POR); M S Timur (TUR);

82 O B Corrie-Kuehn (DOM); M C Chen (SGP); M D Ballesteros (PER); M J Fernandez-Davila (PER); O M Borisova (BUL);

83 M D Zalewska (POL); O I Simeonova (BUL); M L Jecnik (SLO); M S Ersoy (TUR); M S Garcia Peralta (PAR); M V Giraldo Roys (COL);

84 O G Saki (TUN); O H Mansouri (TUN); O I Rich (MAR); O R Peterson (GUM); O V Gilly (VEN);

85 O R Kristinsdottir (ISL);

86 M A Marksa (LAT); O K Ladhari (TUN);

87 M N Polivchak (POL); O R Tarpley (GUM);

88 O D Horokhovska (UKR); O M Lacaz Martins (BRA);

89 M K Gustafssone (LAT); O S Assaf (LBN);

90 O S Skokanska (BUL);

98 O V Sapronova (UKR);

100 O L Assaf (LBN);

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