The Eisenhower Trophy is the biennial World Amateur Team Championship for men, organised by the International Golf Federation.
It was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States, when the tournament was first played in 1958. It’s been played every even-numbered year since that time.
It first appeared on my personal radar when my country, New Zealand, briefly became competitive: 2nd in 1990 and the winner in 1992.
I’ve followed it closely since my interest in golf betting got serious, after my first ever golf bet ($50 on Bernhard Langer to win the 1993 Masters @ 50/1) won.
My interest was also spurred by the realisation that the sheer breadth of the Eisenhower competition, involving as it does the best amateurs from so many countries, made it a true scoping of global talent.
Not only that, but players complete 4 rounds of stroke play – the perfect measuring stick for persons like me who are interested in betting on golf tournament outcomes. Each team now has 3 players and the two best scores each round count towards the team total, but it is individual scoring performances on which I focus.
That winning 1992 NZ team included Michael Campbell who went on to record 15 pro wins including a US Open. His first pro wins were in 1993, 1994 (3) & 1995.
USA prevailed by 11 strokes with a team that included Tiger Woods. Interestingly, it was played at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course, the venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup; not one of Tiger’s happiest events!
USA team member Allen Doyle won the individual stroke play honours; he won 3 pro tournaments in 1995.
Tiger, who was 6th overall, started winning pro tournaments in 1996.
My point here is that we could to some extent predict progression to early professional success for Eisenhower stars and it’s a trend that has been maintained in more recent times..
Let’s now skip ahead to more recent Eisenhower’s and take a look at those who starred and what’s occurred since.
USA won and its team was pretty useful: Bryson DeChambeau, Beau Hossler & Denny McCarthy. Bryson won the US Amateur in 2015 and his first pro tournament in 2016. Beau & Denny are also now both PGA Tour card holders.
The individual stroke play was won by Jon Rahm of Spain from Victor Perez, Lucas Herbert & Alejando Tosti.
Rahm’ subsequent ascent to near the apex of world golf is well documented while Herbert & Perez are already rising young stars on the European Tour. Tosti turned pro only at the end of 2017 and is yet to make his mark in the pro ranks.
Close behind in the stroke play standings came: Denny McCarthy, Marcus Kinhult, Bryson DeChambeau. Corey Conners, Renato Paratore …… Plenty of recognisable names there.
This was not a vintage year, and Australia cantered to victory by 19 strokes, led by Cameron Davis & Curtis Luck – who finished 1st & 2nd in the individual standings.
Davis has since won the 2017 Australian Open and a Web.com tournament in 2018. Huge promise!
Luck hasn’t yet performed as well as his compatriot, but 3xTop10’s on the 2018 Web.com Tour hint at what’s to come.
Adrian Meronk of Poland tied 3rd. He had a solid season on the 2018 European Challenge Tour (9xTop25’s) and is a strong candidate to graduate in 2019.
Sun-Ho Yun tied 3rd. He had a 2nd in his first season on the Korean Mens’ Tour in 2018 and is also expected to progress in 2019.
Alfie Plant also tied 3rd. He subsequently won the 2017 European Amateur but is yet to make his mark in the pro ranks.
Viktor Hovland was 7th. He has since finished 2nd in the 2018 European Amateur and won the 2018 US Amateur. His most recent start was a highly meritorious 13th in the 2018 Australian Open. Watch this space!
Denmark won from USA in the Teams’ event while the individual title was narrowly won by Spain’s Alejandro del Rey from Japan’s Takumi Kanaya.
De Rey is at Arizona State (a Sun Devil theme here; see Jon Rahm above) and is a 20-y-o long-hitter. Watch this space too!
20-y-o Kanaya, since the Eisenhower, has won the Asia-Pacific Amateur, finished 24th in the Japan open, missed the cut in a JGTO tournament and signed-off 2018 with 17th at the Australian Open. Keep a close eye on him in 2019!
Nicolai Højgård, a member of the winning Danish team, was born only in 2001 and counts an Open Championship start (2018; MC), a PGT win and the 2018 European Amateur title on his cv.
His identical twin, Rasmus, was also a team Denmark member and, identical to his twin brother, was T6 in the 2018 Eisenhower. He’s already played a handful of pro events in Europe as an amateur and is expected to progress upward in the coming years.
Justin Suh tied 3rd. He played the 2016 US Open (MC) and finished 4th & 6th in the stroke play qualifier of the US Amateur in 2016 & 2018. Big things expected.
New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier tied 3rd with Suh. He was the stroke play medalist at the 2018 US Amateur, has placed Top20 in the past three Asian Amateurs and has three Top25’s from a handful of PGAT Australasia starts.
And so on …..
Amateur prominence is no guarantee of either accession to the pro ranks or success after arrival.
However, knowledge is power and it can enable bettors to back some highly promising ‘unknown’ players at great prices a few times, before everybody else jumps aboard and starts destroying their prices.
Esperito Santo Trophy
Turning to the Womens’ game, the Esperito Santo was launched in 1964 and, like the Eisenhower, is played bi-annually. 50+ countries compete.
I started following it from 2008 (Australia) when Sweden annexed the title by 12 strokes with a team of: Caroline Hedwall, Pernilla Lindberg & Anna Nordqvist. Two have since won Majors.
Korea beat a USA team including Jessica Korda by a monstrous 17 strokes, setting a tournament scoring record in the process. It was only Korea’s 2nd team title (1996) but a precursor of a dominant period to come; and, I suspect, ongoing!
Lydia Ko won the individual title, having finished 31st in 2010 as a 13-y-o. She was hardly unknown though, having already won the US Amateur & several pro tournaments including the LPGA’s Canadian Open!
The winning Korean team included 16-y-o Q Baek who won 3 times in Korea and once on the LPGA during 2014. Also, 17-y-o Hyo-Joo Kim who has since won 12 times, incl the 2014 Evian Championship!
Australia beat Canada with Korea 3rd in the teams’ event.
17-y-o Brooke Henderson was top individual. She’s since posted 7 pro wins (incl a Major) with her first win coming in 2015.
Australia’s 18-y-o Min-Jee Lee was 2nd. She’d won the Vic Open as an amateur and also had her first pro win in 2015.
A pretty good supporting cast, too, with the next names on the leaderboard being: Alison Lee, Bronte Law, Su Oh, Linnea Strom & Anne Van Dam
Back to business-as-usual with a thumping Korean victory, this time by 21 strokes!
17-y-o Hye Jin Choi was the individual stroke play winner. She’s won 4 times on the KLPGA Tour since joining in 2017.
Puk Lyng Thomsen of Denmark was 2nd; she has entered the USA collegiate golf system.
Third was 16-y-o Korean Min-Ji Park who turned pro and joined the KLPGA Tour in 2017. She already has two wins (plus 4x3rd’s) so watch for her emergence onto the global stage.
Notable names a bit further down that 2016 scoreboard were: Daniela Darquea (5th), Leona Maguire (6th) and 16-y-o Nasa Hataoka (11th) who is my tip for the 2019 LPGA Money List title!
This produced a rare USA victory over asian powerhouses, Japan & Korea. I suspect it’ll prove to be a significant title, too, for a country looking hard for its next-gen golf heroines. Paste these girls in your hat:
The individual winner was 18-y-o Korean Aye-An Cho. She’s had one start since, a 6th on the KLPGA. She’d previously made 10 cuts on that tour as an amateur! Promising!
Joint runners-up were USA’s Jennifer Kupcho and Japan’s Yuka Yasuda.
Kupcho finished 21st at the 2017 US Open and was recently 2nd in the LPGA QSchool to win her card for 2019.
Yasuda has competed sporadically on the JLPGA Tour since July 2017 and has already notched up 5xTop20’s including 3rd & 7th!
USA ‘s 21-y-o Kristen Gillman finished 4th. She owns a stellar amateur record going back to 2013 including the 2014 US Womens Amateur title. She won on the JLPGA Tour in July 2018 as an amateur and also recently received her 2019 LPGA Tour card at QSchool.
Canada’s Jaclyn Lee was next. She was a quarter-finalist at the 2018 British Amateur (4th in stroke play) and recently also won her LPGA card for 2019.
The Esperito Santo is a massively powerful predictor of future pro success for (young) amateurs. More so than the male equivalent. Take note!
© Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 2 January 2019