Spirit International amateur golf championship returns

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Spirit International amateur golf championship returns

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Spirit International amateur golf championship returns

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Sam Saunders represented the United States in The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship in 2005, and still considers competing in the Olympic-style competition as one of the highlights of his amateur career. If only he didn’t land the unlucky bunk bed, he says.

“I’d probably be No. 1 in the world because the guy next to me was Jason Day. That’s probably the only reason I never got to No. 1 in the world at this point and he did,” Saunders said, tongue firmly stuck in cheek. “We were exactly the same age, on the same career path and then something happened. I’m blaming the bunk bed.”

Saunders’s bunk bed notwithstanding, his point rings true: The Spirit has been a training ground for stars of tomorrow spanning the globe. He and Day, an Australian who reached World No. 1 in 2016, are among a long list of former Spirit International participants who have gone on to bigger and better things after playing at Whispering Pines Golf Club, the host venue, in Trinity, Texas, 80 miles north of Houston.


Watch the live stream of The Spirit International 2019 from Whispering Pines, Thursday through Saturday, right here on Golfweek.com.


Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth won here a decade ago and former British Open champion Francesco Molinari represented his native Italy, while U.S. Open and PGA champion Martin Kaymer (Germany) and Lorena Ochoa (Mexico), Brooke Henderson (Canada) and Paula Creamer (USA) are among the Spirit alumni who have collectively gone on to win more than 650 professional events, including 23 major championships.

The Spirit International, which began in 2001, brings together two male and two female amateurs from 19 different countries and six continents to compete against each other for a chance at gold, Nov. 7-9.

The Spirit International brings together two male and two female amateurs from 19 different countries and six continents. Photo: thespiritgolf.com

It is a 54-hole four-ball stroke-play competition, with three concurrent competition categories: international team, men’s team and women’s team. Gold, silver and bronze commemorative medals are awarded to the top finishers in each competition. The biennial tournament was last held in 2015, and was canceled two years ago due to Hurricane Harvey.

This year’s star-studded field includes 17 players ranked among the top 100 in the world, and 51 golfers who have competed or will compete collegiately in the U.S. or abroad. Players range in age from 12 to 27, with nine players who have won their country’s national amateur or junior championship.

Individual standouts among the men’s field include Houston native Cole Hammer, the current No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, reigning U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and Scotland’s Sandy Scott, the No. 30 amateur in the world and a 2019 Walker Cup participant. Standout women in the field include France’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, the No. 7 amateur in the world and a four-time winner in 2019, along with No. 14-ranked Emilia Migliaccio and No. 19 ranked Kaitlyn Papp of the United States, who all have a wealth of international experience. Bragging rights are most certainly at stake, but this is designed to be the sort of event where camaraderie between golfers from around the world is the ultimate winner.

“We’re here to win and make some friends in the process,” Ogletree said.

Just like in the Olympic Games, the Spirit International kicks off with an opening ceremony. A torch will be lit and then let the golf begin.

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