The South American Amateur Championship took on a new dimension with the support of The R&A this month when men and women from 19 different countries played in the eighth staging of the event.
A field of 77 men and 47 women played in the 72-hole stroke play event at El Rincon on the outskirts of the Colombian capital Bogota.
The championship was a milestone for the Colombian Golf Federation and the course itself after severe flooding in 2011 meant that 1,000 trees had to be removed as part of the repair effort.
The R&A contributed £25,000 towards the staging of the event and, in addition, assisted overseas players with travel and accommodation costs. This enabled golfers from England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, India and Finland to play in the championship.
The men’s event was won by Callum Shinkwin from England who edged out Finland’s Myllymaki Erik by one shot with a 5-over-par total of 293. Peruvian Joaquin Lolas finished third, three off the lead on 296. Shinkwin, from Moor Park in Hertfordshire, produced consecutive rounds of 70 after opening with a 75 to give himself a six shot lead in the final round which he closed out with a 78. He jumped 163 places to 165th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings after his win.
Brooke Henderson enjoyed a comfortable six-shot victory as she became the first Canadian to win the women’s event. The 15 year-old’s rounds of 73, 75, 76 and 74 gave her a total of 298. Daniela Darquea of Ecuador and Jisoo Keel of Canada finished tied for second on 305. The win elevated Henderson to 26th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
El Rincon is one of the oldest golf clubs in Colombia and sits at 8,000ft above sea level making it challenging for golfers not used to playing at that altitude.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Working for Golf at The R&A, said, “We have supported the event in the past but decided to increase our contribution this year to try to enhance the status of the championship still further. It is an important event for the development of golf in South America and bringing in international players has benefited the championship and the players themselves. It was an excellent opportunity for them to play golf in a different climate and to gain invaluable competitive experience.”
The R&A supported the development of the Colombian Golf Federation’s first public driving range in central Bogota in 2005 which has been instrumental in introducing new golfers to the game. Colombia currently has 48 golf courses for a population of more than 46 million people.
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