(RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico) – The Republic of Korea won its fourth Espirito Santo Trophy by a record-equalling margin with a 72-hole total of 29-under-par 547 at the 27th Women’s World Amateur Team Championships at Mayakoka El Camaleon Golf Club.
The other medals were won by Switzerland, in second, at 8-under 568 and Ireland, in third, at 7-under 569.
Teenagers Hye Jin Choi, 17, and Min Ji Park, 16, each shot 5-under-par 67 to post a final-round 134, which is second-best to Australia’s 131 in 2014. The Korean duo and Japan’s Nasa Hatoaka shared the day’s low round.
“I travel a lot and the first question is always ‘Why is your women’s game so strong?’ And my first answer is we have a greater number of players and they are trying really hard,” said Ko. “Their target is to turn professional. We may be a small country in terms of the land and the population but we have more than 3,000 junior players and they are willing to turn professional, which is really a huge number compared to the U.S. and Europe so that’s why I believe our women’s golf is strong.”
Korea’s 21-stroke margin of victory over second-place Switzerland tied the championship record set by the USA in Chile in 1998. The 72-hole total (547) is also tied for second-lowest score by a champion. The lowest winning score was 546 by the Republic of Korea in 2010, when they won by 17 strokes.
The nation has finished in the top 10 in 12 of its 14 appearances. The Koreans are tied for fourth in most overall WWATC medals with Sweden and Great Britain and Ireland. Only the USA, with 13, has won more gold medals than the Koreans.
After three rounds, the Koreans held a 14-stroke cushion over Switzerland but, in the fourth round, they kept their low-scoring pace as Choi, the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open low amateur, and Park, the 2016 Australian Women’s Amateur champion, shot 6-under 30 and 4-under 32, respectively, at the par 72, 6,295-yard/5,752-meter Mayakoba El Camaleon Golf Club.
The other course used for the championship was the par 72, 6,167-yard/5,637-meter Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club
“We did really well last time (third in 2014), but we couldn’t do as well as we hoped,” said Choi. “But this time we really did our best and we performed really well, so I am very happy now.”
Although there is no official recognition, Choi led the individual scoring with a 14-under-par total of 274.
Sisters Kim and Morgane Metraux, shot 69 and 72, respectively, for the Swiss, who won their first medal in 23 appearances, with a best finish of tied for fourth in 1988. This marks their fifth top 10 finish.
“It feels great,” said Kim, who plays at Florida State University with her sibling and teammate. “We never thought we would win a medal before coming here. We came with no expectations, just to play as well as we could. It’s incredible that we have won a medal.”
“It’s a great historic moment for Switzerland,” said Swiss captain Annette Weber. “The players performed great in very hot conditions and I am very proud of this team for winning the silver medal.”
In a dual that lasted most of the afternoon, Ireland, on the stellar play of Olivia Mehaffey (4-under 68) and World Amateur Golf Ranking No. 1 Leona Maguire (3-under 67), claimed third at 569, edging past Denmark in fourth at 570 and Thailand in fifth at 571.
Ireland also won its first medal in its seventh appearance but it did compete as a part of Great Britain and Ireland from 1966 through 2004. Its best finish previous finish was T-11th in 2010.
“I’m just so proud of them,” said Irish captain David Kearney. “We have got three amazing girls there, just incredible girls. They are all very serious about their golf and they work incredibly hard all year round when they are not at tournaments. I’m just delighted for them. It’s just brilliant.”
With Switzerland’s and Ireland’s respective second- and third-place finishes, 20 different countries are in the official medal count.
The USA, with a pair of 69s from Andrea Lee and Katelyn Dambaugh, finished in sixth at 574, followed by Spain in seventh at 575, Japan in eighth at 576, Canada in ninth at 581 and host Mexico in tenth at 582.
The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 147 national governing bodies in 141 countries and 22 professional members.
The 28th Women’s World Amateur Team Championship will be played 29 Aug.-1 Sept., 2018 at Carton House Golf Club in Dublin, Ireland.
The competition, which was held for the 27th time this year, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa. This year’s event was hosted by the Mexican Golf Federation. The teams played for the Espirito Santo Trophy.
The IGF is the international federation for golf for the International Olympic Committee and conducted 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 complete results, visit www.igfgolf.org.