By Christina Lance, USGA
MIAMI, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2013) -- Canada remains atop the leader board with a three-day total of 19-over 883 following Saturday’s third round of the 2013 Copa de las Americas, being conducted on the par-72 TPC Blue Monster Course at Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami.
The USA Team made the largest move on Saturday, sparked by under-par performances from World No. 1 Chris Williams (70) and Erynne Lee (71). The USA, which started the round in fifth, jumped into a tie for second with Mexico at 24-over 888. First-round leader Argentina is fourth at 30-over 894, followed by Colombia at 32-over 896.
Canada and Mexico lead the men’s championship at even-par 432, with Colombia two strokes behind. The USA moved to the head of the pack in the women’s championship at 17-over 449 and holds a two-stroke lead over Canada.
The 2013 Copa de las Americas, conducted by the Americas Golf Association and hosted by the United States Golf Association, is a team event for amateurs in North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. It consists of three 72-hole stroke-play competitions – overall, men and women – that end on Sunday.
For the second consecutive day, Albin Choi led the Canadians, shooting 2-under 70. The North Carolina State University junior had an uneven round of eight birdies and six bogeys.
“The pins were a lot tougher today and the wind was a little up,” said Choi, a former member of Canada’s National Team. “I was rolling the putter really well today. But I also had a lot of unforced errors.”
Corey Conners, a junior at Kent State University, contributed an even-par 72. Choi’s fellow Wolfpack golfer Augusta James carded her third consecutive 4-over 76, while 15-year-old Brooke Mackenzie Henderson shot 3-over 75.
Like Choi, Henderson struggled with the wind. While not steady, the breezes, which exceeded 10 mph, bedeviled players as they took on the Blue Monster.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well, but it’s been a struggle around the greens,” said Henderson, who won on the CN Canadian Women’s Tour in 2012. “They’re pretty fast at times and it gets pretty windy. Even the wind seems to affect [putts] sometimes.”
The USA’s 291 was the lowest team score on Saturday. Williams closed with a 15-foot birdie on the par-4 18th, where he found the water during the opening round.
“I said I’m not even going to bother with [going for the green],” said Williams, a senior at the University of Washington. “I'd rather be in the right trees than the water. Luckily I turned one over.”
Perhaps buoyed by a once-in-a-lifetime encounter on Friday night, when she high-fived LeBron James during the Miami Heat game attended by the USA Team, Lee was the only female player to finish in the red on Saturday.
“I started off pretty hot,” said the UCLA sophomore. “After the turn I was three under, and after that it got a little bit shaky for me. My caddie helped me cool down throughout the round.”
In the span of four holes (11-14), Lee dropped from three under to even. But a birdie at 18 sent Lee into Sunday’s final round with a brighter perspective.
“It made me feel a little better about myself,” she said.
Her teammate, Duke University senior Lindy Duncan, played her first two rounds at 10 over par. But she finally had seemed to figure out the tough Blue Monster Course – until the final hole. Duncan missed her approach at the 18th hole well right of the green, hit a pitch that came up short and into a bunker, then bladed the sand shot into the water. Her quadruple-bogey gave her a round of 4-over 76. Steven Fox, the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion, carded his second consecutive 2-over 74.
Mexico also made a move on Saturday, jumping from fourth into a share of second place. University of North Texas teammates Rodolfo Cazaubon (71) and Carlos Ortiz (72) led their charge.
“I missed a couple of short putts and that hurt me,” said a confident Ortiz. “But I know I’m hitting the ball good, and I’m going to have a good round tomorrow.”
Gabriela Lopez, a freshman at the University of Arkansas, made the turn at three under. However, four bogeys and a double bogey on her inward nine dropped her to 3-over 75. Fabiola Arriaga, who plays for the University of Texas at San Antonio, carded a 4-over 76, her best round of the championship.
Christina Lance is an assistant manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.