For the third time in the history of the tournament, Canada has claimed victory at the Copa de las Americas.
A biennial team event, the Copa de las Americas is an amateur team competition for countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Canada last won the championship in 2005 in Mexico. It followed their very first victory in 2003 in Puerto Rico. It consists of three 72-hole stroke-play competitions – overall, men and women.
The 2013 event was held at the Doral Golf Resort Spa, making it the first time the USGA hosted the tournament within the continuous states.
For the four person Canadian squad of Albin Choi, Corey Conners, Augusta James, and Brooke Henderson it came down to the final hole in Miami on Sunday to separate them from their nearest pursuers, Team Mexico and Team USA.
Early in the day Team Canada stretched their overnight lead of five strokes to a seemingly insurmountable total of ten. Unfortunately the back nine saw that lead fall to just a single stroke by the time the last group of the day reached the famed 18th.
“It was definitely pressure-filled, coming down these last few holes,” said Choi, who drained a 12-foot par putt at the Blue Monster’s difficult 18th hole to clinch the championship. “I knew I needed to make that putt on the last hole. That made things interesting.”
As team captain, Team Canada Assistant Coach Robert Ratcliffe was faced with the difficult task of keeping his team informed of their standing without applying excessive pressure. His anchor player, Choi, was mentally tough enough to lead the team to victory.
“[Choi] asked me on the 18th tee, ‘Don’t lie to me. Where are we?’” said Ratcliffe. “I had a good idea, but I said, ‘I think we need a par.’ He changed his game plan a bit off the 18th tee.”
That information was enough for Choi. “I just said it needed to go down and that’s what I did,” he said of the final putt.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team this week. They played fantastically well,” said Robert Ratcliffe. “We did a great job in preparing for and reviewing each round and making the necessary adjustments. Our post-round evaluations and practices went extremely well, and the fact that the players were familiar with one another from the Team Canada program and the World Amateur Team Championships brought a great sense of ‘team’ to the group.”
For the week Team Canada posted a total of 1177, one better than team Mexico and two up on Team USA. Both the Team Canada squads captured second place in their respective men’s and women’s divisions with the combination of their totals being enough for the slim win.
“I’m really proud of the team,” added Ratcliffe. “They put in a great effort this week. This event is a tough format, and it really means that everyone on the team has to contribute.”
In getting the job done The Team Canada women, both from Eastern Ontario, had fairly different final rounds. While 15 year-old Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls sailed to a closing 70, tying the lowest score of the day, Augusta James of Bath struggled to a 77 including a double bogey on the closing hole. That blip helped the pursuers significantly and made James feel a little uneasy about what it could mean for the team’s fate. “Yeah I felt horrible,” she told Flagstick after the round. ” Tough week for me but first tournament of the season and very excited for the team win.”
With the Gold Medal in hand the players had little time to celebrate. School waits for them all on Monday. Choi and James headed back to North Carolina State in Raleigh while Corey Conners returns to Kent State in Ohio. And the youngest player on the winning team? Henderson is back to classes at Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute with a pretty good story to tell her grade 10 classmates.
Miami – Results from Sunday’s final day of stroke play at the 2013 Copa de las Americas, being conducted at the par-72 TPC Blue Monster Course at Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami (men, 7,099 yards; women, 6,205 yards):
1177 (300-290-293-294) Canada (Albin Choi 76-68-70-74—288; Corey Conners 77-69-72-73—291; Brooke Mackenzie Henderson 71-77-75-70—293; Augusta James 76-76-76-77—305)
1178 (298-296-294-290) Mexico (Carlos Ortiz 68-74-72-73—287; Rodolfo Cazaubon 77-70-71-70—288; Gabriela López 73-71-75-73—292; Fabiola Arriaga 80-81-76-74—311
1179 (295-302-291-291) USA (Chris Williams 71-75-70-72—288; Erynne Lee 73-75-71-72—291; Steven Fox 75-74-74-71—294; Lindy Duncan 76-78-76-76—306
1203 (293-298-303-309) Argentina (Jaime López Rivarola 74-69-73-74—290; Alejandro Tosti 72-76-72-74—294; Delfina Acosta 75-75-80-79—309; María Olivero 72-78-78-82—310)
1203 (295-297-304-307) Colombia (Carlos Ernesto Rodriguez 71-71-71-79—292; Ricardo José Celia 70-75-76-76—297; Laura Blanco 75-70-76-76—297; Camila Serrano 79-81-81-76—317)
1250 (312-306-319-313) Trinidad and Tobago (Monifa Sealy 78-78-76-76—308; Matthew Marquez 72-79-82-76—309; Talin Rajendranath 80-73-81-80—314; Kelsey Lou-Hing 82-76-80-81—319)
NS (311-311-NS-315) Venezuela (Jorge Garcia 74-73-78-74—299; Gustavo Morantes 73-73-78-77—301; María Alejandra Merchán 82-82-80-81—325; Claudia de Antonio 82-83-DQ-83)
NS (335-325-NS-NS) Guatemala (Lucia Polo 76-77-74-80—307; Sebastian Barnoya 82-78-74-80—314; Pilar Echeverría 96-88-DQ-87; Rodrigo Olivero 81-82-85-WD)
575 (145-144-143-143) Mexico (Carlos Ortiz 68-74-72-73—287; Rodolfo Cazaubon 77-70-71-70—288)
579 (153-137-142-147) Canada (Albin Choi 76-68-70-74—288; Corey Conners 77-69-72-73—291)
582 (146-149-144-143) USA (Chris Williams 71-75-70-72—288; Steven Fox 75-74-74-71—294)
584 (146-145-145-148) Argentina (Jaime López Rivarola 74-69-73-74—290; Alejandro Tosti 72-76-72-74—294)
589 (141-146-147-155) Colombia (Carlos Ernesto Rodriguez 71-71-71-79—292; Ricardo José Celia 70-75-76-76—297)
600 (147-146-156-151) Venezuela (Jorge Garcia 74-73-78-74—299; Gustavo Morantes 73-73-78-77—301)
604 (154-151-143-156) Panama (Omar Tejeira 74-74-70-76—294; Miguel Ordoñez 80-77-73-80—310)
605 (155-146-151-153) Peru (Joaquin Lolas 76-67-74-75—292; Miguel Tola 79-79-77-78—313)
605 (149-144-153-159) Puerto Rico (Erick Morales 74-71-78-79—302; Edward Figueroa 75-73-75-80—303)
623 (152-152-163-156) Trinidad and Tobago (Matthew Marquez 72-79-82-76—309; Talin Rajendranath 80-73-81-80—314)
NS (163-160-159-NS) Guatemala (Sebastian Barnoya 82-78-74-80—314; Rodrigo Olivero 81-82-85-WD)
597 (149-153-147-148) USA (Erynne Lee 73-75-71-72—291; Lindy Duncan 76-78-76-76—306)
598 (147-153-151-147) Canada (Brooke Mackenzie Henderson 71-77-75-70—293; Augusta James 76-76-76-77—305)
603 (153-152-151-147) Mexico (Gabriela López 73-71-75-73—292; Fabiola Arriaga 80-81-76-74—311)
614 (154-151-157-152) Colombia (Laura Blanco 75-70-76-76—297; Camila Serrano 79-81-81-76—317)
619 (147-153-158-161) Argentina (Delfina Acosta 75-75-80-79—309; María Olivero 72-78-78-82—310)
627 (160-154-156-157) Trinidad and Tobago (Monifa Sealy 78-78-76-76—308; Kelsey Lou-Hing 82-76-80-81—319)
NS (164-165-NS-164) Venezuela (María Alejandra Merchán 82-82-80-81—325; Claudia de Antonio 82-83-DQ-83)
NS (172-165-NS-167) Guatemala (Lucia Polo 76-77-74-80—307; Pilar Echeverría 96-88-DQ-87)