Buenos Aires, Argentina (Jan. 8) – With three sub-par rounds Friday, the USA built a 14-stroke lead over Argentina, which used two record-setting scores to pass Canada for second place, through 54 holes of the 2010 Copa de las Americas at the par-72 Buenos Aires Golf Club.
Nathan Smith (67), Jennifer Song (68) and Peter Uihlein (70) all broke par for the USA, which stands at 5-over-par 867. Jessica Korda, at 16 the youngest member of the USA Team, added a 73.
The Americans withstood a strong surge by host Argentina, which posted the two lowest individual scores since the championship began in 2003, an 8-under-par 64 from Emiliano Grillo and a 7-under 65 from Victoria Tanco. Argentina’s 54-hole total of 881 is five strokes ahead of third-place Canada (886). Colombia at 892 and Peru at 896 round out the top five in the overall competition.
“We are very happy with the 8-under from Emiliano and the 65 from Victoria,” said Argentine captain Miguel Leeson. “When they get started playing well and start shooting at the flags, they are like machines. They are unlike some amateurs, in that, when they go low, they want to go lower.”
Smith, who won the 2009 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, and, with it, an invitation to the 2010 Masters, shot the second-lowest round of the championship.
“I feel pretty comfortable on this course,” Smith said of Buenos Aires Golf Club. “Maybe, it was the wrong place at the wrong time when we started the first round on the back nine in the wind.”
The Pittsburgh native knew that Argentina was lurking and said: “They are great players but I wanted to finish it and post it. I am glad I could put a 5-under on the board.”
“They all played solidly,” said USA captain Steve Smyers of his team. “Nathan was as steady as can be and Jessica was on a roll until the last two holes. Jennifer was steady and Peter lost a ball on the first hole and still shot two under. My big deal is to stay patient. They knew what to do. I didn’t have to tell them anything.”
In the men’s competition, the USA and Argentina are tied for the lead at 431, followed by Canada in third at 434.
The USA also leads the women’s competition at 436 by 12 strokes over Peru and Colombia.
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. The event consists of three competitions – overall, men and women. Fifteen men’s teams , 12 women’s teams and 11 teams overall play 72 holes of stroke play with the lowest aggregate score claiming trophies in each of the three competitions.
RECORDS – In addition to the individual records of Grillo and Tanco from Argentina, the USA women, at 141, totaled the lowest team score for the championship’s third round. The USA and Argentina men, at 137, shot the second-lowest team total for the third round.
BIG EVENTS AT COPA COURSES – Olivos Golf Club has been the site of the Argentine Masters since 1961. The event has not been played every year since then but it is now co-sanctioned by the Tour de las Americas and the Canadian Tour. Buenos Aires Golf Club hosted the 2000 World Cup, the two-player professional event held every two years. Each club has hosted the most important Argentine events of recent years, including the Argentine Open (Olivos G.C. nine times and Buenos Aires G.C. six times) and the Argentine Amateur and Women’s Amateur Championships.
LOCAL TIDBITS – Copa de las Americas participants, delegates and families, on the buses provided by the Argentine Golf Association, have traveled on the widest street in the world. Avenida 9 de Julio, in downtown Buenos Aires, features nine lanes wide and measures 460 feet wide. Some consider the Rio de la Plata, which borders Buenos Aires on the east, the widest river in the world. The river separates Argentina and Uruguay.
To view results, click on the link at the bottom of this story.
Story written by Pete Kowalski, manager of championship communications for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.