BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Romain Wattel already has won an individual title in Argentina. Now the Frenchman is trying to help his country to a world championship.
Wattel, the world’s No. 6-ranked amateur, shot 3-under 69 Thursday at Buenos Aires Golf Club in the first round of the World Amateur Team Championship. Wattel’s teammate, Alexander Levy, shot 68 to lead France to a 7-under 136.
France has a two-shot lead over Canada.
Wattel won the 2009 Argentine Amateur at Buenos Aires Golf Club, beating Scotland’s Ross Kellett, 7 and 5, last November. Wattel has become one of the world’s top amateurs since, also winning a Challenge Tour event and the Scottish Amateur. Wattel will turn pro next week.
Levy, the French Amateur champion, shot 68 despite a four-putt double bogey on the par-5 second hole. He birdied three of his next four holes, then finished his round with four birdies in his final six holes.
“I had a bad start with a doble bogey at the second hole with four putts, but I get better with two birdies in a row at Nos. 3 and 4,” Levy said. “After that, I concentrated and played better. With wind, I prefer to play here.”
Levy is tied for the lead at 4 under par with two other players, Denmark’s Joachim Hansen and Canada’s Eugene Wong. Hansen and Wong both shot 67 at Olivos Golf Club. Levy’s 68 was the low score of the day at Buenos Aires Golf Club.
France took the lead despite a 79 from its No. 1 player, Johann Lopez-Lazaro, who recently advanced through the first stage of European Tour Q-School.
This is a deep French team, though. All three players are ranked in the top 30 of the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Rankings. Wattel is ranked sixth. Lopez-Lazaro is 25th, and Levy is 26th.
France finished fourth at the 2008 World Amateur Team Championship. It last medaled in this championship in 2002, when it finished second, three shots behind the United States team of Ricky Barnes, Hunter Mahan and D.J. Trahan in Puerto Rico.
France has medaled in this championship twice, also finishing third in 1992. France is one of just 12 countries to earn multiple medals in this event, the closest thing to golf’s Olympics.