Abu Dhabi, UAE: Abu Dhabi Golf Club is all set to host two weeks of enthralling golf, with the World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) kicking off tomorrow (Wednesday) when the 33rd edition of the Eisenhower gets underway for the first time in the Middle East.
The Emirates Golf Federation, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Sports Council and their Destination Partner, the Department of Culture and Tourism, will host the men’s Eisenhower Trophy from October 18-21, followed by the women’s Espirito Santo Trophy on October 25-28.
A total of 36 countries from around the globe will compete in the prestigious event, with defending champions Italy aiming to become the first team to win consecutive WATC titles since the USA did so in 2012 and 2014.
USA once again boast a strong lineup with their trio of Nick Dunlap, David Ford and Gordon Sargent all part of the victorious 2023 USA Walker Cup team that defeated Great Britain & Ireland last month at The Old Course at St Andrews.
Dunlap won the 123rd U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club in August, joining Tiger Woods as the only players to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur. Sargent, the low amateur at the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club, was awarded the Mark H. McCormack medal in August as the world’s top-ranked amateur.
However, the top ranked amateur heading into the biennial contest is South African Christo Lamprecht, who won the 2023 Amateur Championship at Hillside and was the low amateur at the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
He will be joined in Abu Dhabi by teammates Altin van der Merwe and Christiaan Maas, who was the runner-up in the 2023 Western Amateur and won the 2022 English Open Stroke Play (Brabazon Trophy) by five strokes, becoming the sixth South African to win the coveted title.
Ahmad Skaik will lead the way for the UAE team, with the Emirati making his fourth consecutive WATC start for the UAE.
Skaik, the UAE’s top amateur golfer, has played in the DP World Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship three times, which was previously held at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and is a three-time UAE Presidents Cup champion.
Rayan Ahmed and Thomas Nesbitt complete the UAE trio, with the latter the two-time reigning club champion at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“The Championship Committee along with the Local Organizing Committee has been working hard over the past 12 months to ensure the UAE is fully prepared to become the first country in the Middle East to host the prestigious World Amateur Team Championship,” said General Abdullah Alhashmi, Vice Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation.
“Under the patronage of his Excellency Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Abu Dhabi and the Emirates Golf Federation, we look forward to hosting the world’s best amateur golfers and top federations at Abu Dhabi Golf Club over the next two weeks.
“I would like to thank our partners at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Department of Culture and Tourism for their support and for making this Championship possible.
“Finally, I would like to thank golf’s governing bodies, the International Golf Federation, The R&A and the USGA for their trust in the United Arab Emirates for hosting this prestigious championship, it is our mission to continue to develop the sport of golf in the Middle East.”
Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation (IGF), added: “The World Amateur Team Championships carry such a rich competitive history and give players from around the world the opportunity to join together in celebration of this game we all love.
“On behalf of the IGF, the USGA and the R&A, we thank the Emirates Golf Federation and Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their outstanding efforts in hosting the first playing of these championships in the Middle East and look forward to the impact and development of future opportunities for golf in the UAE. We know that Abu Dhabi will provide a superb and inspiring stage for the world’s leading amateurs over the next two weeks.”
Play will begin at 6:30am GST tomorrow, with Skaik (UAE), Markus Luoma (FINLAND) and David Amm (ZIMBABWE) teeing off from the 1st and Juan Ricardo Davila (GUAETEMALA), Bastien Amat (FRANCE) and Callum Scott (SCOTLAND) beginning on the 10th.