Australia Comes from Behind to Win Espirito Santo Trophy
Australia, with a combined 131 from Minjee Lee and Su Oh in the final round, came from seven strokes behind Canada to win the 2014 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (WWATC) at 29-under-par 547 at Karuizawa 72 Golf East’s Iriyama Course.
Australia team members Shelly Shin (left), Minjee Lee and Su Oh lift the Espirito Santo Trophy in Japan.
(Copyright IGF/Steven Gibbons)[/caption]“They never thought they were out of it but they were close to possibly being out of it,” said Australian captain Matt Cutler. “We had a really slow start to the week with an even par round at Iriyama (Wednesday) and we thought we might have too much work to do. But, it was the fastest start you could ever see coming.”
Australia, which won the Espirito Santo Trophy for the third time, took the lead through six holes of the final round as Lee, No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, was 4 under through five holes on an eagle and two birdies and Oh was 3 under with three birdies.
Lee, 18, who was tied for 22nd at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, finished with an eagle and five birdies for a 65 while Oh, who is No.6 in the WAGR™, tallied six birdies for a 66. Neither recorded a bogey. Shelly Shin, a semifinalist at the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior, posted a non-counting 72.
The Australians broke the mark for a final-round comeback of three strokes, which was set by their countrymen in 2002 in Malaysia. Their 72-hole total of 547 was one stroke shy of Korea’s record-low in 2010 and their final-round 131 is second-best all-time.
“We talked last night that if you broke it down as an individual and you were three or four strokes down through 54 holes, you could give yourself a chance,” said Cutler. “And, we were seven down so that’s how we approached it.
The winner of the 2014 Victorian Open and Australian Amateur, Lee was playing in her second WWATC.
“I wanted to make it this something to remember,” said Lee, who won the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior. “I have matured so much in two years and I wanted this to be a priceless experience for everyone.”
With scores of 64 in the third round and 65 in the final round, Lee fueled the Australian move up the leaderboard on both days. They moved from 12th to fourth in the third round and fourth to victory in the final round.
Canada, which led on each of the first three days and was vying for its first WWATC win, placed second at 27-under 549 behind the outstanding play of WAGR™ No.2 Brooke Henderson. It was Canada’s fourth silver medal. The Republic of Korea, which won the title in 2010 and 2012, finished third at 550.
“Australia had a great round today, I was really impressed,” said Henderson, who finished tied for 10th at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and was runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur. “They have very skilled players, including two in the top 10 in the world rankings, which is unbelievable. It’s a little disappointing to finish second but overall we had a really great week and played really well as a team.”
Although there is no official recognition, Henderson led the individual standings at 19-under 269, which breaks the WWATC mark of 274 set by Lydia Ko in 2012.
Denmark finished fourth at 556, followed by Sweden and the USA tied for fifth at 557, Mexico in seventh at 560, England and host Japan tied for eighth at 562 and the Philippines in 10th at 563.
The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 137 national governing bodies in 131 countries. The competition, which is being held for the 26th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa.
This year’s event is hosted by the Japan Golf Association. The teams play for the Espirito Santo Trophy. The IGF is the international federation for golf for the International Olympic Committee and will conduct the Olympic golf competition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In each round, the total of the two lowest scores from each team constitutes the team score for the round. The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship.
For the final round, the top half of team scoring played the Iriyama Course and the other half played Oshitate.
The 2016 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship will be played in Cancun, Mexico.