COPA DE LAS AMERICAS
For the members of the USA team at the 2013 Copa de las Americas, there is no greater honor than playing for their country January 1, 2013 By Hunki Yun, USGA

Miami – Across town at Sun Life Stadium, Alabama and Notre Dame will be playing for college football’s national championship on Monday night.

Winning a national title is prestigious, and at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami, the field for the 2013 Copa de las Americas can boast several national champions, including Gustavo Morantes, winner of the 2012 Venezuelan Amateur, Laura Blanco, who has won both the Colombian junior championship and the Colombian Open, and Steven Fox, 2012 U.S. Amateur champion.

But for Fox, Blanco and the other competitors in the Copa de las Americas, there is nothing like representing their countries in an international competition.

It’s an awesome feeling, said Fox, of Hendersonville, Tenn., who also represented the USA at the 2012 World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey. You hear all about how great it is to play for your country, like in the Olympics, and now I’ve gotten to do it.

It’s something that not many people get to do. It’s a real sense of pride.

Chris Williams also played in Turkey, where the USA (Justin Thomas was the third member of the team) defeated Mexico by five strokes to win the weather-shortened 54-hole championship.

Wearing the red, white and blue is pretty sweet, said Williams, of Moscow, Idaho. It’s different than playing college golf or playing for yourself. At the end, they played our national anthem. That was about as good as it gets.

At Doral, Fox and Williams will be joined by two other players with experience in international team events. Erynne Lee, of Silverdale, Wash., played in the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship, while Lindy Duncan, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., played in the 2012 Curtis Cup Match.

They will team up in the Copa, a unique amateur team event with three 72-hole competitions: women’s, men’s and overall.

Although they have played for their country previously, the Copa will be the first time any of them will be doing so on home soil.

I finally get to play one in the States, said Williams, who also played in the 2011 Walker Cup Match at Scotland’s Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. Although it was a blast, Turkey was a long way away.

Although none of the USA team members had played Doral’s Blue Monster, they were familiar with the course, which has hosted the PGA Tour since the resort opened in 1962. During their practice round, they encountered a well-conditioned layout with little of the wind that helps give the course its fearsome moniker.

I watch the tournament every year, said Williams. I thought it would be a little harder. I’m sure a little weather would make it tougher.

Duncan attended the Doral event for several years, making the short drive with her mother.

I came out to watch all the players, said Duncan. It was fun to watch and see how well they putt and concentrate.

This week, Duncan will be the one competing, while her family and friends come out to support her and her teammates.

I’m so excited to be playing with these players, she said. Any time you can represent your country it’s such an honor.

Hopefully, the results will be different than during Duncan’s previous international competition, when the USA Team lost the Curtis Cup Match by one point in June. Despite that outcome, the sense of camaraderie engendered by representing the United States helped make that week one of the greatest experiences of Duncan’s life.

There was such a great vibe, she said. Some of the girls are now some of my best friends. We all talk about it all the time. We had the best time.

Hunki Yun is a senior writer for the USGA. Email him at hyun@usga.org.