The 2016 Australian Team with their trophy in Mexico.
The World Amateur Team Championship, or Eisenhower Trophy as it is often referred to, begins in County Kildare in Ireland on Wednesday with Australia represented by West Australian Minwoo Lee, Victorian David Micheluzzi and Queensland’s Shae Wools Cobb.
Named after the US President, Dwight Eisenhower, who himself was a keen golfer, the event has become a must play tournament for many aspiring young professional golfers ahead of their transition to the paid ranks.
A week after the Australian women’s side, Rebecca Kay aside, performed well below expectations in their equivalent Espirito Santo Trophy at the same venue, the Australians take to the Montgomerie and O’Meara layouts at Carton House just outside of Dublin.
Australia are the defending champions in the event, the trio of Curtis Luck, Cameron Davis and Harrison Endycott having won the event at Mayakoba in Mexico in 2016, all three now establishing successful professional careers, Davis the current Australian Open Champion and Curtis Luck on the verge of a PGA Tour card for 2019.
Lee is currently ranked 13th in the World Amateur rankings followed by Micheluzzi in 16th place and Cobb 41st and although they face a huge task to repeat the heroics of the 2016 side they are not totally without their chance.
All three are debutantes in this event and are likely to be representing their country as a team for one of the last times in their amateur careers.
Perhaps the player under the most pressure is Wools-Cobb who has struggled through much of the North American summer, a 6th place finish at the Porter Cup the standout.
Lee, though, despite his impressive ranking, has not played at the level we know he is capable of in recent months, missing the cut at the US Amateur and Players Amateur although producing top tens at the Western Amateur and at the Sahalee Players Championship.
Perhaps as a pre-cursor to a professional career Lee played several events on the Korean PGA Tour earlier in the year and did well enough against the strong competition that tour offers.
Victoria’s Micheluzzi played beautifully in amateur events in Australia earlier in the year and did well at the British Amateur when making the quarter-finals but in just two events in the US he has not played well although back in a European environment things might go better for him.
Australia has won the Eisenhower Trophy on four previous occasions, the second most of any nation, the first of those coming in 1958 at the inaugural staging of the event, the last in Mexico.
The USA as expected has dominated the winner’s list having won the trophy on 15 occasions, the last of those coming in 2014 when Bryson De Chambeau, Beau Hossler and Denny McCarthy took the title in Japan.
Their team of Cole Hammer, Collin Morikawa and Justin Suh suggests they may well add to that record.