U.S. climbs leaderboard at soggy WATC

October 29th 2010 - BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Most of the world’s top amateurs have been focused solely on winning a world championship this week. David Chung has had something else to worry about – midterms.

Chung took two tests earlier this week in his hotel room. Such is the life of a Stanford student-athlete.

He was tested a third time Friday, this time on the golf course. Chung passed, shooting 70 in heavy rains at Buenos Aires Golf Club.

He led the United States’ rally during a rain-soaked second round at the World Amateur Team Championship. Peter Uihlein pitched in a 72 to give the U.S. a 2-under 142.

The United States was tied for fifth with England when it completed its second round. England and three teams ahead of the United States – Canada, France and Sweden – were still on the course when play was called for a second time.

The United States has the second-best score among the teams that have completed 36 holes, so there’s a good chance it will move up the leaderboard by the time the second round is completed. It won’t be any closer than five shots off the lead, though.

Denmark has posted 6-under 280 behind the strong play of Joachim Hansen, the team’s No. 2 player. Hansen is 7 under par individually, and has a three-shot lead over New Zealand’s Ben Campbell, who shot 2-under 70 Friday at Buenos Aires Golf Club, and Canada’s Eugene Wong, who is even par through three holes of his second round.

France, the first-round leader after a 7-under 137 at Buenos Aires Golf Club, was 4 over through nine holes Friday at Olivos Golf Club. Canada, Sweden and England were all early in their first nine when play was called.

Hansen, 20, said he’s turning pro next week. He failed to advance out of the first stage of European Tour Q-School, but will compete on the Nordic League, a European mini-tour that serves as a feeder to the Challenge Tour. Hansen won on another mini-tour, the Ecco Tour, earlier this year. He also won this year’s Finnish Amateur.

Hansen missed just two fairways and three greens Friday. “I hit many good iron shots, and made some good putts, as well,” he said. His final birdie came on a 20-foot birdie putt after hitting 7-iron into the 159-yard eighth hole, his 17th.

Play was delayed for more than two hours Friday morning because of rain and lightning. Heavy rain fell almost the entire time the United States was on the course. Lightning struck shortly after the U.S. finished, delaying play again. The United States’ players were soaked – Uihlein putted out on the final hole with his hat backward to keep drops from falling off the brim and onto his ball – but there was no repeat of the Ryder Cup rainsuit failures.

Following completion of the round and a re-draw based on scores, the third round will begin in the mid-to-late afternoon. The leading teams will play at Buenos Aires Golf Club in the third round and the lower half will play at Olivos Golf Club. The championship is now reduced to 54 holes and will conclude on Sunday.

Campbell, 19, enrolled at Texas A&M this year, but didn’t find the U.S. college system to his liking and recently decided to return home; he said he’ll likely turn pro in one year. He was a finalist this year at the Australian Amateur, and tied for fourth earlier this month at the Asian Amateur.

Campbell is in contention after taking advantage of Argentina’s Census Day. Teams were not able to practice Wednesday because of the holiday. Almost all businesses in Buenos Aires, including the golf courses, were closed as the population was counted. Most teams spent time off in their hotel rooms. Campbell used the off day to work with Australian coach Marty Joyce on his putting stroke.

Joyce also works with with Matt Jager and Kieran Pratt, who are competing for Australia this week. Campbell spent about four hours Wednesday working with a putting simulator in his hotel room. His back stroke had become too short, and his thru-stroke was too long, he said.

While Campbell spent Census Day improving his putting stroke, Chung spent it taking his second mid-term of the week. Chung, a communications major at Stanford, had a mid-term in Media Politics on Wednesday and American Journalism on Tuesday.

Chung rallied late Friday. He had eight pars and a bogey on his first nine, but made four birdies in the first six holes of his back nine.

Uihlein also rallied on his second nine, making birdie on his 15th and 17th holes. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth, his second-to-last hole of the day.

“It was a grind, struggle, frustrating and exciting, all wrapped into one,” Uihlein said. Further Resources: