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WATC: Dream start for Ireland at Eisenhower

​​​Ireland hold silver medal position after round one of the Eisenhower Trophy at Carton House​

  • 05 September 2018

Picture: Robin Dawson shot 65 (-7) in round one | Cashman Photography

After a dream start, Ireland are second, just two shots behind leaders Denmark at the World Amateur Team Championship.

The smiles widened as the putts lengthened. From 36 feet at the 15th, from 51 feet at the 6th and 54 feet at the 12th, Robin Dawson wielded the putter like a magic wand, his ball disappearing from ever increasing and improbable positions. It all added up to a magical opening round of 65 that propelled Ireland inside the medal positions on 10 under par at close of play at Carton House.

"I couldn't ask for any more on day one," said team captain John Carroll, whose charges were top of the leaderboard at lunchtime.

It was an early start for the home players with Kinsale's John Murphy (69) first off at 7.56am on the Montgomerie. Conor Purcell (69) from Portmarnock followed Murphy down the 11th but they did not catch the early birds. By the time Robin Dawson made his way onto the course, Ireland were two over - Purcell bogeyed 11; Murphy slipped up at 12 - and struggling for momentum until Dawson uncovered his putter.

"I could hear a clap every time Rob hit a putt so that could only be a good thing," said Murphy wearing a smile.

 



With his first stroke of the blade, Dawson converted a birdie putt from eight feet though he could not know at that point how ordinary it would seem. At the next hole, which both of his teammates bogeyed, he rolled it home from 54 feet, a raking birdie putt that travelled almost the width of the green.

"When you make one [birdie] you want to make another one," Dawson explained afterwards. "I gave myself a lot of opportunities and I managed to take a lot of them. Funnily enough, I didn't actually birdie the easier holes. That's the way golf is sometimes."

The 13th proved a case in point. A downhill par-four measuring 338 yards, Dawson's drive ran through the green but he failed to get up and down, and had to settle for par.

Another chance almost went amiss at the par-five 15th. Playing his second with an iron, the ball finished just above the bunker, leaving him an awkward stance. He could only pitch it 12 yards right of the flag. It was an outside chance but once more the putter obliged.

Further birdies at the 17th, his seventh, and the 1st, his ninth, got him to minus five, and although he failed to make gains at the two remaining par5s, Dawson finished the day seven under when he holed from 51 feet at the 6th.

"My all-round game was decent today," Dawson surmised. "We knew coming into the week it was going to be a big birdie fest. It helps drive us on every time. I think making a lot of birdies is key out here and going low."

For all his heroics with the blade, Dawson's immaculate round was eclipsed. Denmark's John Axelson managed eight under on the Monty although it is India's Rayham Thomas who leads the individual standings after posting a nine-under 64 on the O'Meara.

Denmark's total of 12 under, courtesy of Axelson's 64 and a 68 from Rasmus Hojgaard, is the leading team score. Ireland are next best on minus 10 - Murphy and Purcell both contributed 69. India are tied with Switzerland on nine under though they will play the Montgomerie in round two while Ireland and Denmark tackle the O'Meara.

"Tomorrow is a new day again," cautioned Ireland captain John Carroll. "We'll start from fresh again tomorrow morning and hopefully something similar."

Confidence rather than caution is the feeling among the players.

"We're all in good form and playing well," said John Murphy, whose round featured an eagle and five birdies. "We got the tough bit out of the way and that was getting started, getting into it with all the home expectations. I think we can stay in cruise mood now and see what happens the next few days."

A bogey at the 10th meant Conor Purcell finished as he started but the golf in between was of a high order. He made three birdies in four holes from the 13th and repeated that run on the front nine with gains at six, eight and nine.

"It's good going out there and you get a clap for hitting a good shot," Purcell reflected after the round. "Some people would think there's pressure on us but I think any time you can play under pressure it's somewhat a privilege to be in that position and to have all the spotlight on us."

The spotlight returns on Thursday afternoon. Round two for Ireland begins at 12.15pm.