Copa de las Americas Continues Golf’s Global Outreach
By Pete Kowalski, USGA
Buenos Aires, Argentina – The recent decision to include golf in the 2016 Olympics can be seen as a validation of the game’s world-wide influence.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Latin and South America, where countries are starting to produce a wealth of talent.
Jessica Korda has been a rising amateur star.
That growth and interest helped lead to the creation of the Copa de las Americas, a biennial amateur golf competition for countries in North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. The previous four events – first conducted in Puerto Rico in 2003 as a precursor to the World Amateur Team Championships a year later – have produced enthusiasm and opportunity for new international friendships for the competitors and organizers.
The USA, which claimed the title three years ago in Canada, enters the competition Jan. 6-9 at Olivos Golf Club and Buenos Aires Golf Club with a strong four-player team. The competition also will serve as a preview for the upcoming World Amateur Team Championships at the same venues in October.
“We hope Buenos Aires provides the attractions tourists from all over the world come to treasure when they visit the city,” said Argentina Golf Association (AAG) Executive Director Mark Lawrie. “There is an obvious bonus for all participants who can anticipate a feel for the forthcoming WATCs. For the AAG, it will be a perfect dress rehearsal to adjust all issues concerning the logistics of holding the Eisenhower and Espirito Santo in October 2010. For the Copa, the quality of participating countries and stature of players attending speak for themselves.”
The USA Team, captained by USGA Executive Committee member Steve Smyers of Lakeland, Fla., includes 2009 Walker Cup teammates Peter Uihlein of Orlando, Fla., and Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa., and 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Jennifer Song of La Cañada, Calif., and Jessica Korda of Bradenton, Fla., who was a quarterfinalist in the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur and made the cut at the last two U.S. Women’s Opens.
“While the players have all the intentions of playing well, they also understand that this is a wonderful life experience,” said Smyers, chairman of the USGA’s international team selection committee. “Part of this event is to spread goodwill among nations through the game of golf. There will be many gatherings so that the players can interact and get to know one another.”
The Copa de las Americas contains three competitions – overall, men and women. Fifteen men’s teams and 12 women’s teams will play 72 holes of stroke play with the lowest aggregate score claiming trophies in each of the three competitions.
Each team will play twice on each of the host courses. For the first round, the USA women are grouped with Mexico and Venezuela, while the men will play with Peru and Chile. On the second day, the women are grouped with Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago; the men with Colombia and Paraguay.
“The committee took the selection of the Copa team very seriously,” Smyers said. “Our mission was to select outstanding competitors who would represent the country and organization well. As the World Amateur Team competition is being held at the same venue in October, we wanted to choose those who would be candidates for that competition. I believe that the teams will be very competitive and at the end of the competition should have a good chance of winning the trophy.”
Pete Kowalski is a Manager of USGA Championship Communications. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.