By Christina Lance, USGA
MIAMI, Fla (Jan. 6, 2013) -- Team Canada withstood a final-day charge from Mexico and the United States to win the 2013 Copa de las Americas, conducted on the par-72 TPC Blue Monster Course at Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami.
The Canadian Team – Albin Choi, Corey Conners, Brooke Mackenzie Henderson and Augusta James – had a four-day total of 25-over-par 1177, just enough to capture the trophy by one stroke over Mexico (1178) and two strokes over the USA (1179).
“I’m really proud of the team,” said Canadian captain Robert Ratcliffe. “They put in a great effort this week. This event is a tough format, and it really means that everyone on the team has to contribute.”
“We got a lot of support from back home, so it was really nice to [win] for everybody,” said James, who carded a four-day total of 17-over-par 305.
Mexico’s Rodolfo Cazaubon and Carlos Ortiz captured the men’s championship at 1-under 575, a four-stroke advantage over Canada. Lindy Duncan and Erynne Lee of the United States shot 21-over 597 to take the women’s championship by one stroke over the Canadians. For the first time in Copa de las Americas history, the overall champion did not win either the men’s or women’s competition.
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.
Canada entered Sunday’s final day of competition with a five-stroke lead over the USA and Mexico. Both pursuers surged during the final round to pull within a single stroke as the last group reached the final tee.
“It was definitely pressure-filled, coming down these last few holes,” said Choi, who drained a 12-foot par putt at the Blue Monster’s difficult 18th hole to clinch the championship. “I knew I needed to make that putt on the last hole. That made things interesting.”
As team captain, Ratcliffe was faced with the difficult task of keeping his team informed of their standing without applying excessive pressure. His anchor player, Choi, was mentally tough enough to lead the team to victory.
“[Choi] asked me on the 18th tee, ‘Don't lie to me. Where are we?’” said Ratcliffe. “I had a good idea, but I said, ‘I think we need a par.’ He changed his game plan a bit off the 18th tee.”
That information was enough for Choi. “I just said it needed to go down and that's what I did,” he said of the final putt.
Ratcliffe, who is the assistant coach for Team Canada, made up of the top players in the country’s national development program, played a key role over four days of the unique team competition.
“[Ratcliffe] really emphasized the importance of every shot, to never give up and keep fighting because everyone’s score counts,” said Conners, who shot 3-over 291.
No Canadian responded to Ratcliffe’s encouragement better than 15-year-old Henderson, who rebounded from a pair of mediocre rounds to shoot 2-under 70, which tied for the lowest final round by any player.
Canada took the Copa trophy for a third time, adding to wins in 2003 and 2005. The United States won the two most recent playings of the Copa, in 2007 and 2010.
While no formal recognition is given for individual performances, Mexico’s Ortiz posted the lowest score of the championship at 1-under 287, one shot ahead of his teammate Cazaubon and Chris Williams of the USA. Despite their individual success, Ortiz was frustrated by the outcome.
“It feels good, but it’s a team event,” said Ortiz, who is also Cazaubon’s teammate at the University of North Texas. “I’m happy that we both finished first in the overall men. I’m kind of disappointed in the overall that we finished second, but it was a good tournament.”
After finishing third in 2003, 2005 and 2007, Mexico won the men’s championship for the first time.
The USA’s win in the women’s competition seemed in doubt after Lee hit her approach shot on the 18th hole in the water. But Lee got up and down to make a bogey that assured a one-stroke victory.
In addition to clinching the women’s team title, the bogey gave Lee a total of 3-over 291, the lowest individual score among the women.
“It’s definitely special knowing that our name will be on the award, going down in history,” said Lee, a sophomore at UCLA.
The USA has won three consecutive women’s championships (2007, 2010, 2013).
Christina Lance is an assistant manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.