USA wins first Espirito Santo Trophy in 20 years
United States of America team members (left to right); Lilia Vu, and captain Stasia Collins, Jennifer Kupcho, and Kristen Gillman.(Copyright USGA/Steven Gibbons)[/caption]
The USA won the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship for the Espirito Santo Trophy for the 14th time with a flourish.
Bolstered by nearly perfect scoring conditions and the performances of Kristen Gillman, who has won the 2016 and 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur championship, and McCormack medal winner Jennifer Kupcho, the USA eased to a 10-stroke victory over Japan on the O’Meara Course for its first gold since 1998 in Chile.
“I am so proud of these girls,” said American captain Stasia Collins. “I am so proud of this team, and I am really happy for them and thrilled for the United States. They will always be known as the gold medal winners for the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships – no one can take that away from us.”
The USA, in winning its first medal since Argentina in 2010, posted a 29-under-par 551.
Gillman was the driving force of the day, making an eagle and four birdies against one bogey in her first nine holes to make the turn at 5- under. She added a birdie on the 13th en route to 6-under 67.
Kupcho fired a 4-under-69 to give the USA a 10-under fourth-round total of 136. She and Gillman and Lillia Vu were also members of the victorious USA Curtis Cup Team in June.
“We have the strong bond already from the beginning, especially yesterday when we were all struggling we all fought for each other,” said Kupcho, who won the NCAA Women’s individual title in 2018. “We all wanted to win for each other, and I think that was a big thing coming out of yesterday. And, I think that’s how we got our big lead coming into today.
Japan’s first appearance on the medal podium in 28 appearances was formulated by a pair of 3-under 70s from 18-year-olds Yuri Yoshida and Yuna Nishimura
Their final total was 19-under 561. Previously, its best finish was fourth in 1984.
Defending champion Republic of Korea stalled in its attempt to overtake the USA and captured the bronze medal, which is its fifth consecutive medal-winning performance. The Koreans, who had won three of the previous four WWATCs, withstood a late rally from fourth-place People’s Republic of China to finish at 18-under 562
Although there is no official recognition, Korea’s Ayean Cho was the low individual scorer at 17-under 273.
Tomoko Sakamoto, Japan captain: “I am very, very happy. I don’t know what to say!
I was hoping to at least finish third, so they could raise the national flag. The fourth is the best finish we have had – so this is the best. This team is probably the strongest Japan team we have had. It’s so huge because last week the boys won the gold medal at the Asian games and now the girls have got the silver here. So, the news carries on and it’s going to have a big impact in Japan.”
Brenda Corrie-Kuehn, Dominican playing captain who was a member of the last USA team to win the Esprito Santo Trophy in 1998: “Back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, the U.S. had historically dominated the WATC. The fact that it has taken us 20 years to gain the victory back shows how strong women’s golf worldwide has become. Both victories were marked by decisive margins. The U.S. brought an amazing team this year, and we all knew they were the unspoken favorites. They played as champions from beginning to end and deserved the win!
Kristen Gillman, USA: “It means so much to us. We worked so hard and we fought on every shot. When three people are all playing well, it is tough to beat us.”
- The USA took the when Gillman and Kupcho fired 8-under 65s on the O’Meara Course in round two and went from a one-stroke lead through 36 holes to a five-stroke lead through 54 holes to a 10--stroke victory.
- For the second consecutive day, the Norwegian duo of Renate Hjelle Grimstad (67) and Karoline Stormo (70) forged another strong move up the leaderboard with a two-score total of 7-under 137 on the Montgomerie Course. Over the last two rounds, Norway moved from T33rd to T12 and then to10th. Their 130-137 finish in the last two rounds was 267, 13 under par.
- The USA has won 20 total medals in the Espirito Santo Trophy competition (14 gold, three silver, and three bronze).
- The Republic of Korea has won eight medals (four gold, two silver and two bronze)
- Juyun ‘Birdie’ Kim, captain of the Republic of Korea team, won the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open.
- The best round of the day at either course was an 8-under-65 by Jacklyn Lee of Canada on the O’Meara
- The 2020 Espirito Santo Trophy competition will be played in Hong Kong at the Old and New Courses of Hong Kong Golf Club.
- The top three individual scorers all played with the last group of their country and were the last players on the course. Yuka Yasuda of Japan (-15), Ayean Cho of Korea (-17) and Jennifer Kupcho of the USA (-15) were a combined 47- under par.