Taiga Semikawa of Japan, with a 6-under-par 65, led his team to a record 36-hole score of 264 at the 32nd World Amateur Team Championship at Le Golf National (Albatross) and Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche (Red), Paris, France.
The 21-year-old college student, who holds a World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® of No.18, tied an Eisenhower Trophy record with a first-round 63.
“I think those experiences back in Japan, playing in the national amateur and some of those professional events massively helps my confidence and performance,” said Semikawa. He is currently atop the individual leader at 15-under-par.
WAGR® No. 1 Keita Nakajima added a 69 for Japan’s second-round 134 and their team score of 264 breaks the 36-hole mark of 266, that was set by the USA in 2012 in Turkey en route to their gold medal.
“The whole thing is three players,” said Gareth Jones, the Japanese captain. “We don’t fuss with who’s on the leaderboard out of the three players. Yesterday, our worst score was even par and today our worst score was 1-under par. They are all playing great, and we know that three scores are important. I hope and I know they are enjoying being part of a team this week and they’ll remember this experience for a long time.
Italy, with a 7-under 65 from Filippo Celli and a 3-under 69 from Marco Florioli, jumped out of the pack into second place at 17 under, five strokes behind Japan playing at Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche, where most of the leaderboard movement occurred.
“It’s only the second round, we’re only halfway around so the end of the tournament is still very far,” said Celli, who was the low amateur in the 2022 Open Championship at St Andrews. “We will be trying to remain calm and play the best we can in the next two rounds. We’ll see how it goes.”
France’s Tom Vaillant shot a 7-under 65 and Martin Couvra added a 70 as the host country remained in third, alone this time at 16 under.
The USA, based on a 5-under 67 from Austin Greaser and 4-under from Michael Thorbjornsen moved up five spots to solo fourth at 15 under.
“I limped in,” said Greaser, the 2022 Western Amateur champion, despite his 5-under score. “I was even through the last five holes and there are two par-5s in there. I’m just glad I didn’t have my A-plus stuff and still shot something low.”
Norway climbed eight places into a tie for fifth with Spain at 13 under. Canada and Wales each gained seven spots to tie for seventh with Australia and Germany at 10 under.
Captain Gareth Jones, Japan, said: “We know that they are two very different golf courses. Yesterday was tighter and we had an aggressive game plan. These boys are hitting it so far and so straight and we’ll just keep having a rip at it. This golf course (Le Golf National) is much bigger and wider with some water, which we found a couple of times. They are just pushing each other along.”
Taiga Semikawa, Japan, added: “I am still surprised by my performance on this world stage. I am literally surprised.”
Diana Murphy, USA Captain, said: “The Japanese have been playing beautifully and congratulations to them, but I don’t think you have seen the A game yet from this team.”
Japan’s Nakajima is the only player in the field to have competed in this year’s U.S. Open and the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews. He missed the cut in both events.
Japan’s first round score of 130 is the second lowest in Eisenhower Trophy history, just two strokes shy of the 128 shot by the USA in the third round in Japan in 2014.
Belgium made the largest move of the day on the strength of a bogey-free 9-under 63 from Adrien Dumont de Chassart that included seven birdies and an eagle. The Belgians moved up 17 places into a tie for 12th with a 10-under 134.
With Japan in the lead, Round 3 begins Friday at 8 a.m. with a two-tee start on both courses. The teams with leading scores will play at Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche and the other half of the draw will play at Le Golf National.
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