If form is a guide, Australia will field two teams capable of again going deep at the upcoming World Amateur Teams Championships.
Golf Australia high performance director Brad James said selection in the national teams to play in Ireland was just reward for excellent results and diligence for all members of the women’s and men’s teams.
“It’s a huge honour to represent your country on the world stage and we wish all six players, their coaching and support staff all the best on the big stage,” James said.
The women’s team will feature Queensland pair Kirsty Hodgkins and Becky Kay and Sydney’s Grace Kim, who will seek Australia’s fourth Espirito Santo Trophy.
The women’s WATC will be held from 29 August through 1 September at the two course of Carton House in Maynoord, near Dublin.
The men’s team will comprise Perth’s Min Woo Lee, Melbourne’s David Micheluzzi and the Sunshine Coast’s Shae Wools-Cobb, who face the additional pressure of defending the Eisenhower Trophy won in Mexico when the biennial event was last contested in 2016.
They will chase Australia’s fifth men’s world team title at the same Irish venue as the women’s team, but from 5-8 September.
Women’s team manager Stacey Peters said she was “really happy” with the selected trio, who’ll be coached by Dean Kinney.
“They are a great group of girls who have had some really solid results in the past six months and will go away in August with a lot of confidence,” Peters said.
“Grace and Becky have been most consistent on Australian soil, winning the Karrie Webb Series, while Kirsty has produced some great results on the US College scene.
“They have been away on team trips together before, most recently at the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship, so as a `team’ they will be great and this is a huge part of travel/ and playing for each other and your country.
“I am confident these girls will be able to take it to some of the best amateurs in the world.”
And the women themselves cannot wait.
“It’s always an honour to represent your country, especially at the World Am,” said Hodgkins, a member of Queensland’s winning Interstate Series team in 2016 who has since been at Colorado University.
“It’s a really prestigious event and we’ve got a great group of girls playing, so I’m excited to see what Australia can go and do out in Ireland.”
Kay, who closed the domestic season with consecutive wins in the Riversdale Cup, SA and WA Stroke Play events, said she was “beyond excited” with her selection.
“I love playing over in Europe and I believe we have a great team to do well,” she said.
“To get in this team has been a goal of mine for a long time and I’m beyond grateful and excited to represent Australia again.”
Kim, the 2018 Karrie Webb Series champion and 2017 Australian Junior champion, said the World Am was the most “prestigious event that I put on my list to play at the start of the year”.
“I know I’m under age to drink the famous Guinness, but I am still looking forward to everything else in Ireland,” Kim said with a broad smile.
“I have practised very hard to prepare for these big upcoming events, so I am definitely looking forward to being able to represent Australia.”
Australia’s top-ranked amateurs, Victorian Julienne Soo and Queenslander Robyn Choi, were unavailable for selection as they focus on the first stage of the LPGA Tour’s concurrent 2018 Q-School in California.
“That’s totally understandable as they prepare to take on another challenge for the next step in their careers,” James said.
“We are very supportive of their choice and will be right behind them as they take the next steps toward what they hope are long professional careers.
“We are lucky to have such depth at the top end of our amateur game and all three we have selected are in good form, too,” he said.
“Each have had the opportunity to play internationally in the past couple of years, as individuals and for Australia, so we hope that stands them in good stead for this big challenge.”
James said the men’s team, to be coached by Grant Field and managed again by Matt Cutler, would doubtless face additional scrutiny and pressure in defending the title won by Cam Davis, Curtis Luck and Harrison Endycott.
“But these guys have turned in some incredible performances domestically and internationally in the past couple of years and will not go to Ireland in their shadow by any means,” James said.
“We’re confident they’ll acquit themselves really well and it’s a great opportunity for them to carve their own mark in the amateur game.”
World No.7 amateur Lee, who’s also made a mark in several professional events in the past year, said he was “really excited to play in Ireland”.
“To be selected among the top three players in Australia is an honour and a pretty awesome achievement,” Lee said.
“But especially to play for Australia with two good buddies of mine, it means a lot to represent the country.”
Micheluzzi, who enjoyed a stunning summer with several victories including the Australian Master of the Amateurs and going unbeaten to spearhead Victoria’s sucessful Interstate Series title defence, was over the moon.
To be on this team is an absolute honour and to represent your country in anything is awesome, I can’t wait,” he beamed.
Wools-Cobb, who made the round of 16 at last year’s US Amateur and is renowned as a brilliant putter, was also humbled.
“I’m incredibly honoured to be selected to represent Australia at the World Am. It has been a goal of mine for years now to be able to say that I played for Australia at the Eisenhower Trophy – I’m still buzzing!
“And it’s made even more special that I will be representing Australia with two of my best mates.”
Field echoed his charges’ enthusiasm, rating the team’s chances highly.
“They have all shown some exceptional form in the past 6-12 months,” he said.
“But the best part about this group is they are all great mates and I am sure they would love nothing more than to come home with a victory.”
Both events feature teams of either two or three with the top two combined scores from each country counting each day as the “team score”.
The lowest total “team score” over four rounds will be declared world champions.