U.S. breaks scoring record in winning World Am Team
ANTALYA, Turkey – It’s not often the team that finishes second is as excited as the winning team, but Mexico didn’t mind finishing five shots behind the United States in World Amateur Team Championship. In fact, the Mexicans might party just a little bit more than the winning U.S. trio.
The U.S. - Justin Thomas, Steven Fox and Chris Williams - won the World Amateur Team Championship for the 14th time after ending the rain shortened 54-hole event with a 24-under total of 404. The U.S. set a new record for lowest 54-hole total, breaking the record of 407 that the U.S. set in 2004.
Mexico finished second at 19 under, while Korea, Germany and defending champion France shared third at 15 under.
Mexico’s Sebastian Vazquez finished low individual at 15 under, closing with a 5-under 66. The 21-year-old finished one stroke ahead of Chris Williams and by two shots over Germany’s Moritz Lampert.
Vazquez becomes the first Mexican to win the individual title since Victor Regalado in 1970.
U.S. captain Jim Vernon was content to stay out of his players way and let them get on with bringing the trophy back to the United States. His team began with a 13 under first-round total to lead the field, and never relinquished that lead. The U.S. is the third team following France last year and Scotland in 2008 to win the championship leading wire-to-wire.
“The guys gutted it out today,” Vernon said. “They are true competitors and really great players. They bonded really well this week. Chris and Justin have played a lot of golf together but Steven was a perfect fit. All three have formed a great unit.
“The hope was certainly to win coming in here because we had the horses, but there were a lot of other great horses in the field too. So it was a question of executing and these boys did that really well. To be taking the trophy back to the United States is just fabulous.”
Williams might have shared first place if not for a bogey at the par-5 17th hole in the final round when he hit his second shot into a water hazard. However, he lived up to his status as the World No. 1 player to lead the U.S. from the front.
The U.S. took an eight-shot lead into the final round, but there was no room for complacency.
“We didn’t have our best day but it was good enough to win it,” Williams said. “We never really talked about the lead. We talked last night about staying in the moment because in a team format like this guys can go low.”
Williams and Fox both fired 2-under 69s on Sunday, while Thomas posted a 1-under 70.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything else,” said Fox, who finished T-9 at 6 under. “To win this and the U.S. Amateur is pretty cool.”
Thomas helped the U.S. cause with a 4-under 67 on the first day. The University of Alabama player finished T-7 at 7 under overall.
“It’s been an awesome week,” said Thomas. “We had high expectations coming in here and it feels really good to have that trophy coming home with us.”
The U.S. arrived in Turkey as one of the favorites to win the Eisenhower Trophy, but Mexico arrived under the radar. Not many predicted the Mexican trio of Vazquez, Carlos Vazquez and Rodolfo Cazaubon would take the silver medal. Although Mexico has competed in every tournament since 1958, their best finish was 5th on three occasions.
“This is a huge achievement for Mexico,” said team captain Jorge Coghlan. “We’ve been building a program for the last four years, and I think we’re beginning to see the payoffs from that.
“We knew we had a great team. Sebastian was ranked 43rd in the world, and we have two guys playing in college golf – Vazquez and Cazaubon – and one of them won his collegiate tournament the week before we arrived. (North Texas senior Cazaubon was joint first in the Graeme McDowell Shoal Creek Invitational.) So we had depth.
“We’ve finished fifth in this three times so this is the best. It’s great for Mexican golf.”
Vazquez was supposed to play college golf at North Texas but he didn’t get past the enrollment stage. He decided to stay in Mexico instead. The decision paid off.
“It’s my last tournament as an amateur and my dream was to win this tournament,” Vazquez said. “I’ve been training really hard for this and it’s the best feeling I’ve had in golf.”
Remember the name – Sebastian Vazquez – maybe one day in the not too distant future he’ll be going head to head with Williams, Fox and Thomas on even bigger stages.