Australia won the inaugural World Amateur Team championship on the Old Course of St Andrews in October, 1958 in a playoff with the USA. Eight years later in 1966 the title again fell to the Australian team. In the fifty-year history of the biannual Championship, Australia has won three championships and been runner up on four occasions.
How will the Australian's fare at Buenos Aires Golf Club in Argentina?
The last occasion an Australian team was in contention was in 1998, finishing runners-up to Great Britain and Ireland with Kim Felton winning the individual standings. Two years earlier in 1996, Australia were winners of the Eisenhower Trophy over Sweden in a team that included Brett Partridge, Jarrod Moseley, Jamie Crow and David Gleeson.
Only the US with thirteen and the combined Great Britain and Ireland team with four wins have better Eisenhower Trophy records than Australia.
Australia's best performances in recent years are two 3rd place finishes in 2000 and 2003, while in 2008, the Australian team of Tim Stewart, Rohan Blizard and Matt Griffin finished Australia finished in 6th position at 2-under-par, eighteen strokes behind winners, Scotland.
Winning in Argentina is a matter of gelling two low rounds from three scores on each of the four days. A simple as it sounds, it's the team based format that presents the challenge.
As the current champions Scotland demonstrated back in 2008, its not where you're based throughout the year on individual merit, but more how you as a team combine during the championship that counts. The Scots played stellar and disciplined golf in Adelaide, with Callum Macaulay, Wallace Booth and Gavin Dear all contributing at pivotal times over the four rounds to ensure between them, two low scores were recorded each day.
In Australia's case it's exactly what they need to do, produce two rounds in the mid 60's which either Pratt, Macpherson and Jager are all capable of, provided they remain disciplined. Should this occur, things will then get interesting at the World Amateur for the Aussies.
Buenos Aires Golf Club, located 45.5km from downtown Buenos Aires, is a Robert von Hagge designed course that opened in 1994 playing host the Argentine Open in its first year, won by Mark O'Meara. In 2000 it hosted the World Cup, with the world number one and the two team of Tiger Woods and David Duval were triumphant.
It is characterised by tight dog-legs, lush trees and fast greens. This should particularly favour Pratt's game, as he's a majestic driver of the ball and as shown at Skokie Country Club during the Western Amateur, he can play to the demands of a tight tree-line layout.
Site of Gene Sarazen's victory in the 1922 US Open, Skokie Country Club demanded precision placement from the tee and with the undulating greens on the Donald Ross design were rolling about 13 on the Stimpmeter, Pratt displayed peerless golf progressing inroads to the top-4 in an event that was littered with international talent. The Western Amateur was only one of Pratt's season highlights abroad, yet arguably his finest to date.
Pratt also made the cut in every event he entered this season, both in the US and the UK, and his consistency in international events rightly justifies his ranking as Australia's top-ranked amateur at 14th in the world.
With victories back in Australia this season at the Dunes Medal and Lake Macquarie Amateur, Pratt's record is impressive. He's athletic and already possess a school of discipline equal to any seasoned sporting professional and will be on his current form, our strongest player in Argentina.
Macpherson moved from Australia earlier in the year to attend the University of Georgia where the Freshman has experienced a stellar US season. The dual 2009 Australian and New Zealand Amateur Stroke champion went on to record a 3rd place at the Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta back in July and has played well for Georgia during the recent collegiate series.
Having watched Macpherson in action both in Australia and aboard there's a mystique about his game. Possessing one of the purest swings you are likely to see, Macpherson has the kind of poise and maturity attributed more to a seasoned tour journeyman than a guy approaching his 20's.
It's an attribute that will undoubtedly see him play well at these championships and with no pending moves planned into the professional ranks, he's bound to approach the week with vigour and poise towards establishing himself as one of the world's best amateurs.
I'd expect a solid combination between Macpherson and Pratt to underpin Australia's chances at these championships which will also be supported by Jager.
Despite some resent results below the high expectations that he imposes upon himself, Jager is a player capable of pushing his game to the best at any international event.
Jager has form in Argentina, winning the 2008 Tournament of International Jockey Club of Rosario for his first main amateur title. Since then the 22-year-old Western Australian has amassed back-to-back wins at the Federal Amateur Championships in 2008-09, the 2009 & 2010 New Zealand Amateur Championships and the 2010 Australian Amateur Championship.
These results alone are simply stunning and talent like this rises to the top when the heat is on. I feel Jager is not only due, but hungry, to make his mark in his last amateur event and I would not be surprise to see him take out individual honours this week to end his stellar amateur career in style.
It's an Australian team in my mind that is much stronger than recent teams and is also one with more depth. Provided they combine well, this is a team that could easily challenge for the title.
There are, however, many teams competing this week that possess the same attributes as the Aussies.
The defending champions Scotland will attend Argentina with a fresh team of James Byrne, Ross Kellett and Michael Stewart, the three leading Scots in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, who have been preparing in Brazil for the championships. A young team, but a team that plays with their hearts on their sleeves and one that's also confident and well resourced. They will be dangerous.
The United States of America will probably start favourites with the world number one, two and six in their team. With a powerhouse team of that nature and the history of having also won the title three times in the last five events, it is easy to see why the USA are considered favourites.
The USA lineup includes current US Amateur champion, Peter Uihlein, US Amateur runner-up, David Chung, and NCAA champion Scott Langley.
Uihlein's American summer was topped with his 4&2 victory over Chung at Chambers Bay in the US Amateur and earlier in the year the Oklahoma State junior claimed the Sahalee Players Championship. Chung, a Stanford junior, claimed two prestigious victories this US summer at the Porter Cup and Western Amateur. Langley qualified for this year's US Open at Pebble Beach where he finished T-16 securing a share of low amateur honours. The Illinois senior then went on to reach the quarterfinals at the US Amateur in August.
All have experience competing for the USA in international competition. Uihlein was a member of the victorious Walker Cup squad last September, posting a 4-0 record in the competition. Chung and Langley both competed in the Palmer Cup in June. The last time the US won the World Amateur Team title was in Puerto Rico in 2004
You would also expect England will be up there challenging with the likes of Laurie Canter, Tom Lewis and Matt Nixon.
Canter, 20, won the 2009 South African Amateur and has also scored victories in the Hampshire Hog and West of England Stroke Play. Lewis, 19, was the 2009 British and English Boys Champion and reached the semi-finals of the English Amateur. Nixon, 21, was the British Boys Champion in 2006 and a quarter finalist in the English Amateur in 2008. The best England finish to date was sixth in 2006 in South Africa.
The French also have a very strong team, with Romain Wattel in their side, who won a Challenge Tour event recently.
There is little doubt the Aussies have the work ahead of them, but with the right combination and application of discipline, 2010 might well prove to be a winning year for the Australians.
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