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DORAL, Fla. –- As Canada's Albin Choi stood in the famed 18th fairway at Doral’s TPC Blue Monster, he told his captain to give it to him straight. Live scoring lagged a bit on the final holes of the Copa de las Americas, and Choi wanted to know exactly what it would take to put his Canadian team in front of Mexico and the U.S. for good.
The latter two teams began the final round five shots behind Canada. Whispers and frantic calculations indicated a three-way tie for much of the final minutes of the tournament. Then the 10-footers started finding the bottom of the cup at No. 18.
In the penultimate group, American Steven Fox made a 10-footer for the U.S. before Rodolfo Cazaubon followed with one of similar length for Mexico. In the fairway, Choi stood with captain Robert Ratcliffe and knew it was close.
“We had the leaderboard pulled up the last few holes and (Ratcliffe) told us what we needed to do and how we stood,” Choi said. For him, that meant sinking a 12-footer for par and the outright ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Jim Williams is not a course-to-range-to-bed-and-back kind of captain. On the outskirts of trendy South Beach, he has proved to have so much more style than that.
For the Copa de las Americas’ maiden visit to U.S. soil, at Doral's Blue Monster, it’s hard to imagine that the U.S. Golf Association could have found a more fitting captain. Except, Williams better describes his role as host. That’s just in his nature – Williams also is a member of the USGA Executive Committee.
The Copa is a biennial event among four-player teams from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. An overall winner is named after 72 holes, and so are men’s and women’s team winners. The U.S. has won the past two events, and enters this year’s final round trailing two-time winner Canada by five shots.
The Americans have spent the early part of the week shaking off rust and bonding as a team. The U.S. posted its lowest team score of the week, 3-over 291, on Saturday. Is the best yet to come ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Through three rounds of the Copa de las Americas, Albin Choi has all but secured man-of-the-match status for Canada. With 18 holes to play, the Canadians have a five-shot advantage on the U.S. and Mexico.
Five shots can disappear quickly at Doral’s Blue Monster.
For proof, look to the carnage and the triumphs that occurred at No. 18 on Saturday afternoon. Choi, in the last group to play the famous hole, hung a par putt on the lip that meant the difference between 69 and 70. He squatted down, hung his head, took off his ball cap and chucked his golf ball into the water. It certainly wasn’t the worst turn of luck at that hole.
An hour earlier, U.S. player Lindy Duncan went from even par to 4-over 76 when she left a flop shot in a bunker long and right of the green, then blasted her next shot over the green and into the water. Duncan, a Fort Lauderdale, native had been staging a charge for the Americans until that hole. Still, the 76 tied her best round of ...
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DORAL, Fla. – From a fairway away, Laura Blanco could pass for an Arizona State player of old, Juliana Murcia Ortiz. That’s good news for Blanco.
The Colombian grew up idolizing compatriot Murcia Ortiz. She’s one reason Blanco ended up on the Sun Devils' roster two years ago.
Blanco has the same confident stride and swinging black braid as Murcia Ortiz, who graduated from Arizona State in 2010 and has since turned professional. Murcia Ortiz finished 29th on the Symetra Tour money list in 2012.
By week’s end at the Copa de las Americas, Blanco could join Murcia Ortiz in the event’s record book. The competition is between four-player teams from South America, Central America, North America and the Caribbean, and features overall team, male team and female team winners.
When Murcia Ortiz played this tournament in 2005 with Paola Morena, the Colombian women won. Blanco is well aware.
“We are defending,” she said.
Colombia was solo third on the overall leaderboard after Round 2, and the women are tied for fourth with Mexico at 17-over 305. Argentina and Canada are tied for first ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Jaime Lopez Rivarola is trying hard to stick to his captain’s gameplan. Santiago Garat, leading Argentina this week at the Copa de las Americas, told his players to concentrate on their own games. Seems logical enough, except that his message to Rivarola and teammate Alejandro Tosti was slightly different than it was to female team members Maria Olivero and Delfina Acosta.
“The girls have a pretty solid game, and he knows that they can win it easily,” Rivarola said. “The difference is the guys. Alejandro shot a pretty solid round yesterday (72), and we know he can do as good as yesterday, so the key was just to concentrate on our game, not on the others'.”
Rivarola didn’t sound the slightest bit offended, and maybe it’s because Garat seems to be on to something. By day’s end, Argentina trailed Canada by one shot in the overall competition while the Argentine women were tied with Canada atop their respective division. The Argentine men were fourth.
The Copa de las Americas features men's and women's amateurs from North, South and Central ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Fabiola Arriaga and Gabriela Lopez set the real pace around Doral’s Blue Monster in the first round of the Copa de las Americas. Playing in twosomes with Guatemala, Mexico’s women were easily off the course in less than four hours. Playing in the third group off the first tee on Thursday morning, teammate Carlos Ortiz did some pace-setting of his own. His 4-under 68 held up as the lowest score in Round 1, by two shots.
By day’s end, Mexico was in fourth on the team leaderboard, only five shots behind leader Argentina.
“This is a really tough competition because every scorecard counts,” said Santiago Casado, Mexican National Coach. Among Mexico’s four scores was a 77 and an 80.
Casado states his team’s goal for the week as nothing less than a victory. There are several indicators among his four players of how golf is growing in Mexico. Of the 38 players in the field, 24 currently play or have played college golf in the U.S. Mexico is one of only three teams made up of four current collegians ...
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DORAL, Fla. – It’s not likely team golf will ever get old for Chris Williams. The Copa de las Americas is a bonus in that way, and also because the Idaho native likely wouldn’t have been able to touch a club this week had it not been for an invitation to Doral.
“It’s fun to play for yourself, it’s fun to play for a college team but it’s also really fun to play for your country,” Williams said of this week. “Luckily I’ve done it a few more times now where I’m a little more used to it, but it’s just a lot of hype, a lot of pressure. Just a bigger stage.”
One of the more shocking revelations Thursday was that Williams, the top-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, had never before played golf in Florida.
“You’d think (I would have), traveling everywhere that I do, but this is the first time,” the University of Washington senior said. “Obviously this is totally different grass than in Seattle.”
Here’s another surprise: Williams has been battling mononucleosis ...
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DORAL, Fla. – At the Copa de las Americas, caddies are allowed. Most of the field used them around Doral’s Blue Monster, but not Maria Olivero. She used a push-cart.
Olivero has the distinction of being the oldest competitior in the field this week. At 39, the stay-at-home mom says she feels a little out of place among the kids. The next oldest players, a trio of men, are 29. The average age for the championship is 20, and Olivero’s other female Argentina teammate, Delfina Acosta, is 17.
“Now all the tournaments are not just for young people, but young players are the best ones,” Olivero said.
It isn’t too long after Olivero explains this that a series of men pass by the scoring tent set up beside the ninth green. When Olivero delivers the good news of her first-round 72 – three birdies, three bogeys – they all grin and nod.
One, dressed in a caddie bib, grabs Olivero’s arm and congratulates her. She should be in contention.
“Even. Muy bien,” says another.
They converse in Spanish before Olivero shoos him away to continue the ...
A quick preview of this weekend's Copa de las Americas, being held for the first time on U.S. soil.
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Copa de las Americas
Jan. 3-6, Doral (Blue Monster), Miami
Notable players in the field: Fabiola Arriaga, Texas-San Antonio junior (No. 31 in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings); Rodolfo Cazaubon, North Texas senior (No. 42); Chris Williams, Washington senior (No. 45) and No. 1 in R&A rankings; Albin Choi, N.C. State junior (No. 30); Steven Fox, Chattanooga senior (No. 86) and U.S. Amateur champion; Erynne Lee, UCLA sophomore (No. 9) and 2012 college freshman of the year; Lindy Duncan, Duke senior (No. 8) and 2012 college player of the year.
Why it’s important: The Copa de las Americas will be played on U.S. soil for the first time in its five-year history. The 72-hole event at Doral’s Blue Monster course is a biennial team event for amateurs in North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. The U.S. won this event the last two times it was played, and Canada won twice before that. Those two countries present tough rosters again this year. The Americans boast U.S. Amateur winner Steven Fox and ...