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U.S. Wins Gold with Back Nine Birdie Blitz

5th November 2013

Posted by Peter Dennis on Nov 4, 2013 in Golf , The Spirit Golf Association , The Spirit International , United States of America | 0 comments

TRINITY, Texas —The U.S. Men saved their best for last.

U.S. Junior Amateur champion Scottie Scheffler and teammate Jordan Niebrugge combined to shoot 7-under-par 29 on the back nine

After a slow start, reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Scottie Scheffler punctuated the final round at the Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship with six birdies on the back nine to bring home gold for the U.S. Team. Scheffler and teammate Jordan Niebrugge combined to shoot 7-under-par 29 on the final nine holes to hold off France in the International Team division of the unique biennial tournament that features five separate competitions at once.

SCOTS, ENGLISH AND IRISH FAIL TO SHINE IN THE SPIRIT INTERNATIONAL
Scotland, England and Ireland finished well down the field in The Spirit International mixed amateur better-ball tournament at Whispering Pines Golf Club, Texas.

The competition was reduced to 54 holes after heavy rain wiped out any completed scores on the opening day.

Scotland (Ewan Scott, Grant Forrest, Rachael Watton and Gemma Dryburgh) finished joint 14th in a field of 20 countries for the combined team event, 25 strokes behind the winners, the United States.

Ireland (Richard Donovan, Jack Hume, Leona and Lisa Maguire) finished joint 16th while England (Nick Marsh, Paul Howard, Alexandra Peters and Meghan MacLaren) finished second last in 19th place.

In the men's team event, Scotland and England tied for 15th place, 17 shots behind the winners, the United States.

Ireland finished 18th of 20 me's nteams but did better in the women's team event in which twins Leona and Lisa Maguire finished joint ninth, six strokes behind the winners, France.

Rachael Watton and Gemma Dryburgh gained a 14th place finish for Scotland but Alexandra Peters and Meghan MacLaren had a nightmare three days. Their better-ball score each day was one-over-par 73 and they tied for last place.

SCOREBOARDS COMBINED TEAMS
399 United States
403 France
407 Malaysia
409 Finland
410 South Africa
411 Sweden
413 Spain
417 Canada
418 Belgium
419 Japan, Mexico
420 Norway
422 Australia
424 Argentina, Scotland
426 Denmark, Ireland.
429 Italy.
430 England.
439 India
MEN'S TEAMS
194 United States (Scott Scheffler and Jordan Niebrugge 61 69 64)

200 Finland (Toni Hakula and Erik Myllymaki 71 66 63), Sweden (Daniel Jennevret aqnd Pontus Gad  64 68 68).

201 France, Malayzia

202 Spain

203 Australia

204 Spain.

205 Norway, Argentina

209 Denmark, Belgium, Mexico

210 canada

211 England (Nick Marsha and Paul Howard 73 68 70), Scotland (Ewan Scott and Grant Forrest 70 69 72.

212 Japan

216 Ireland (Richard Donovan and Jack Hume 71 74 71).

217 Italy

224 India.

WOMEN'S TEAMS

204 France (Mathilda Cappeliez and Eva Gilly 71 64 6 9)

205 United States (Ally McDonald and Ashlan Ramsey  66 66 70)

206 South Africa 67 67 72

207 Japan, Canada

208 Finland

209 Belgium

210 Mexico, Ireland (Lisa and Leona Maguire 68 68 74)

211 Spain, Sweden

212 Italy

213 Scotland (Rachael Watton and Gemma Dryburgh 69 73 71).

215 Norway, India

217 Denmark.

219 Australia, Argentina, England (Alexandra Peters and Meghan MacLaren 73 73 73).

The U.S. Team finished the weather-shortened event at 33-under 399 for 54 holes. It's the third consecutive gold medal for the U.S. in the overall team division and the fourth since The Spirit's inception in 2001.

France closed fast Saturday to win the silver medal at 27-under 405. Malaysia took the bronze with a score of 25-under 407. Heavy rains on Wednesday and Thursday washed out one round and scaled back to championship to 54 holes.

“It feels great,” said Scheffler. “We were really struggling in the morning, but some putts started dropping. That really freed up the rest of our games and allowed us to play aggressively. To win gold here means a lot. It's what we set out to do.”

The U.S. also won gold in the Men's Team division; Scheffler and Niebrugge finished 22-under par for the championship. Finland and Sweden tied for the silver at 16-under.

A pair of 15-year-olds won the Women's Team gold medal for France, upsetting the highly decorated U.S. duo of Mississippi State junior Ally McDonald and Clemson freshman Ashlan Ramsey. Behind their braces and hair bows, Mathilda Cappeliez and Eva Gilley proved to be worthy champions by combining to shoot 12-under par for the 54 holes. Ramsey, the 2013 Women's Western  Amateur champion, and McDonald, the 2013 North/South Amateur champion, made a double bogey on the final hole to post 11-under. Malaysia and South Africa shared the bronze medal at 10-under.

“We are so excited,” Cappeliez said. “We're only 15 years old, so we don't have much experience. We just wanted to come here, have fun and enjoy the experience. Winning the gold is beyond our expectations.”

Their teammate Julien Brun had a lofty goal and reached it. For the first time at The Spirit, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial awarded a sponsor's exemption to the Men's Individual champion. Brun, who plays college golf at TCU in Fort Worth where the Colonial is played, made no secret about his aspirations for the week at Whispering Pines.

“I was thinking about the Colonial exemption on the first hole of the first day,” he said. “It was hard not to think about it.”

Brun won a five-man playoff with a two-putt par on the third extra hole to win the spot in next year's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Finland's Tony Hakula, who won a 2012 NCAA national championship with Texas, Sweden's Daniel Jennevret and both U.S. players totaled 14 strokes under par for the week to qualify for the playoff.

“The Colonial is right in our backyard,” Brun said. “They use our parking lot during the tournament. I get to play there once a week, and this sponsor's exemption is something I've been talking about since they told us about it. I'm really excited about it.”

Canada's Brooke Henderson, a 2011 Spirit alumna, won Women's Individual gold medal. The 16 year old from Ontario totaled 13 strokes under par for the week. Henderson held off Cappeliez, who won silver with 12 strokes under par, as well as South Africa's Kim Williams and Japan's Yumi Matsubara, who tied for bronze with 11 shots under par.

“I was definitely aiming for the gold, but I really was trying to help my team the most,” said Henderson, who this year won the Canadian Women's Amateur and Canadian Women's Open professional event. “This is one of my absolute favorite tournaments. I've wanted to come back ever since I was here two years ago.”

The U.S. Team stormed out to a six-shot lead after the first round in the International Team division. Before the Americans could run away and hide in the second round, however, teams such as Malaysia, France and South Africa turned in strong performances to keep the U.S. Team within reach. Headed into the final round, the U.S. Team held a two-shot lead over Malaysia. France was four shots back.

McDonald on Saturday made three birdies on the opening nine to pace the U.S., but Scheffler and Niebrugge only managed one stroke under par before the turn. Scheffler, in particular, was laboring. Before reaching the 10th hole, he had made only four birdies in the previous 36 holes.

Then Scheffler dropped a birdie on the 10th hole. Then he birdied the 11th. Both Scheffler and Niebrugge made birdies on the par-5 12th and par-4 14th. Niebrugge dropped a 15-foot birdie on the short par-3 15th, then Scheffler added another birdie when he cozied in a 10-foot putt on the par-3 16th.

Both U.S. Men got up and down from awkward lies to add another birdie on the par-5 17 th .

“We knew the boys had that kind of run in them,” Ramsey said of her teammates. “They're both great player and even better people. Ally and I wish he had played better, but this is a team event and that's what teammates are for. We're thrilled to win the gold. Scottie and Jordan got it done for us.”

For U.S. Team captain Paige MacKenzie, her team's success was a measure of redemption. MacKenzie, an LPGA Tour veteran, played in the 2005 Spirit and came away with a silver medal in the International Team division.

“I wanted to win the gold this week badly because I didn't win gold when I played here,” she said. “Mostly I'm just happy for my team, though. I was really nervous. I know I was more nervous than the players, and I think I was more nervous than their parents.”

The  Spirit  Golf  Association,  a  501© (3) charitable  organization,  is  responsible  for  the Whispering Pines membership program and tournament management of The Spirit International. The Texas Golf Association is the governing association for The Spirit International competition.

For more information on The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship, please contact Tournament Director Eric Fredricksen at  281-298-2664  or    efredricksen@spiritgolf.org.   For more information, visit The Spirit International website at   www.thespiritgolf.com.

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