USA Wins Second Consecutive Copa de las Americas
By Pete Kowalski, USGA
Buenos Aires, Argentina (Jan. 9) – The USA won its second consecutive Copa de las Americas overall championship Saturday with a 12-stroke victory over host Argentina at Olivos Golf Club.
The Americans registered a 72-hole total of 10-over-par 1,158. Colombia and Canada shared third at 1,184.
Argentinean Roberto de Vicenzo, the champion of the inaugural U.S. Senior Open in 1980, poses with the USA Team after Saturday's prize ceremony. (Enrique Berardi/Argentine Golf Association)
“The team was patient and focused,” said USA captain Steve Smyers. “They didn’t get ahead of themselves. It’s fun to watch the team bond together and interact with each other so well. They are serious about it. They are dedicated.”
According to Smyers, the second round served as the key moment when the team pulled off a 22-stroke turnaround on the 18-hole leaders from Argentina. It helped the USA, which was in fourth place after round one, catapult from a 10-stroke deficit to a 12-stroke lead.
“We turned it around in the second round,” added Smyers. “And we got a tremendous momentum boost by keeping the lead in the third round.”
The USA, which swept the competition categories in Canada in 2007, also won the women’s team competition, with a record-low score of 583. Argentina won the men’s competition.
“Winning as a team is so good,” said the USA’s Jennifer Song, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion. “You can never be happier than winning as a team. It takes so much effort.”
For the USA, Song, Nathan Smith and Peter Uihlein – the latter two members of the 2009 USA Walker Cup Team – each shot 72 in the final round; Jessica Korda added a 75.
In the overall competition, Argentina was able to narrow a 14-stroke USA third-round lead to 10 strokes but finished at 1,170 with a quartet of junior players, 15-year-olds Victoria Tanco and Manuela Carbajo Re and 17-year-olds Emiliano Grillo and Tomas Cocha.
“We got out of the general tournament with those bad rounds on the second day,” said Argentine captain Miguel Leeson. “Emiliano had a great tournament. The USA was just steady and it was very difficult to get it back against those players.”
Canada had won of the two of the past three ‘Copa’ competitions.
In the men’s event, Argentina and the USA entered the final day tied for the lead. The Argentines (570) pulled ahead for the gold medal over the USA (575) and Canada (578).
In the women’s competition, the USA was led by a strong final 36 holes from Song, who was the low amateur at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open. The University of Southern California All-American posted rounds of 68-72 the final two days. At 583, the Americans were ahead of Colombia (593) and Argentina (600), respectively.
The low individual scorers were Argentina’s Grillo for the men at 7-under-par 279, and Andrea Jun of Paraguay and Juliana Murcia of Colombia for the women at 1-over-par 289.
Olivos Golf Club played at par 71 for the men and par 72 for the women.
The Copa de las Americas is a biennial team event for amateurs in North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean that began in 2003. It consists of three competitions – overall, men and women. At Buenos Aires and Olivos Golf Clubs, 15 men’s teams, 12 women’s teams and 11 teams overall played 72 holes of stroke play with the lowest aggregate score claiming trophies in each of the three competitions.
HONORED GUEST – Roberto de Vicenzo, 86, Argentina’s first great international star, attended the final round of the Copa de las Americas. The 1989 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame lives in the southern part of Buenos Aires. De Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open and the inaugural U.S. Senior Open Championship in 1980. In 1970, he was presented the USGA’s highest honor, the Bob Jones Award.
URUGUAY’S DETERMINATION – Alvaro Vargas and Santiago Huisman of Uruguay were not going to miss the 2010 Copa de las Americas. To keep expenses down, they drove nearly 950 miles around the Uruguay and Argentine coastline of the Rio de la Plata to reach Buenos Aires in approximately 10 hours. They are staying in a friend’s apartment. While their scores left them in the bottom of the field, they were the personification of the Olympic ideal of participation over success.
RECORD BOOK –The USA’s winning total of 1,158 was the second-best overall total in the history of the competition, two strokes behind Canada’s 1,156 winning score in 2005. Its 12-stroke win tied Canada in 2003 for largest margin victory. The USA women’s total of 583 broke the record for lowest score. The previous low was 592 by Canada in 2003. Argentina’s 139 men’s total in the fourth round tied a ‘Copa’ record.
Results from the final round of the Copa de las Americas played at Olivos Golf Club (M: par 36-35-71; 6,801 yards; W: par 36-36-72; 6,106 yards) can be viewed by opening this link: http://www.aag.com.ar/copadelasamericas/leaderboard.asp?l=en