November 7th 2019
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TRINITY, Texas (November 7, 2019
) — French Captain Patricia Meunier LeBouc perfectly captured her team’s performance after their Men’s and Women’s teams combined to shoot 16-under-par 128 in the opening round of the 2019 Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship at Whispering Pines Golf Club. France takes a two-shot lead over New Zealand and the Republic of Korea headed into Friday’s second round.
“They caught the Spirit,” LeBouc said with a smile. “They were brilliant. The girls didn’t start the way they wanted; they were only 1-under on the front nine. But they kept their spirits up and stayed patient. I think that’s the key in this format.”
France’s Pauline Roussin Bouchard and Candice Mahe caught fire on their back nine and shot 6-under. They finished the day at 7-under 65, good for a share of second place in the Women’s Championship competition. Part of the uniqueness of the Spirit International are the five simultaneous competitions: Combined International Championship, Men’s Team Championship, Women’s Team Championship, Men’s Individual and Women’s Individual.
The French men combined to shoot 9-under 63 paced by Adrien Pendaries’s seven birdies. France leads the Men’s Team Championship, and Pendaries trails only New Zealand’s Jack Trent on the Men’s Individual leaderboard.
“Seeing the guys do so well on their front nine inspired our girls,” LeBouc said. “By the end of our ninth hole, Pauline asked me how the boys did. I told her they were 6-under, and she said, ‘OK, we have to beat them on the back.’ She likes the game within the game.”
Team USA finished five shots back of France before an incorrectly signed scorecard led to a disqualification of the U.S. Women’s Team. On the par-3 third hole, the U.S. Women’s Team recorded a 2 for Emilia Migliaccio; however, Kaitlyn Papp was the player who made the 2 on that hole. No other team score was recorded for the women’s team on the third hole. According to Rule 23.2b, which applies to Four-Ball Stroke Play, the score for the hole must be identified to the correct partner.
The error was self-reported by Team USA.
Although the U.S. Women were disqualified, the U.S. Men will continue to compete in the championship in both the Men’s Team Championship and Men’s Individual Championship. Team USA is no longer eligible to compete for the Combined International Championship.
“Playing within the Rules is at the core of The Spirit and its competitors. While Team USA is certainly disappointed, they understand the implications. The fact that Emilia and Kaitlyn want to continue to play without being in contention for the championship shows their true spirit, integrity and love of this great game,” Team USA Captain Stacy Lewis said.
The U.S. Men will forge ahead on their own. In Thursday’s first round, the U.S. Men combined for a 6-under 66 and are tied for fifth place in the Men’s Team Championship with Denmark, Mexico and the Republic of Korea. Individually, Cole Hammer tallied three birdies, including a 30-foot bomb in the final hole. Andy Ogletree rolled in four. Both U.S. players birdied the difficult uphill par-4 11th hole.
“We were bogey-free, and I think we’re off to a pretty good start,” said Hammer, the University of Texas sophomore from Houston who played on the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team this summer with his Spirit International teammate Andy Ogletree. “It was an awesome experience today. Any time you get to wear the red, white and blue it’s really special. I got that experience a few months ago at the Walker Cup and being able to do it again so soon with another Walker Cupper being on my team, it’s fun for us.”
Denmark’s Louise Markvardsen recorded the shot of the day when she holed out a 9-iron from 126 yards for an eagle-two on the par-4 14th hole.
“I had the same distance in the practice round, and it was a perfect 9-iron,” Markvardsen said. “Then I hit it, and it went in the hole.”
The second round of the 54-hole Spirit International begins Friday at 8 a.m. For more information, including complete scoring, click here
A WINNING ACE
: Switzerland’s Robert Foley will never forget his first hole-in-one. The senior at Scotland’s University of Stirling won a Rolex watch, courtesy of the Spirit Golf Association, for making an ace Wednesday on Whispering Pines’ nine-hole course called The Needler.
While practice rounds were ongoing the day before the championship began, the SGA also conducted The Needler Challenge. Players were invited to play the short course in an unofficial exhibition – with an exciting catch.
Any player who made an ace would walk away with a Rolex. Foley made his first-ever hole-in-one on the 175-yard second hole.
“I have to thank my teammate, Loic Ettlin,” Foley said. “I was going to hit 8-iron, but he said it was a 7-iron. I told him I could make it (to the green) with an 8-iron, but I went with the 7-iron instead. I told him I’ll give him the time for the rest of the week."
The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship is a bicennial event that brings together 76 competitors from 19 countries who compete for gold medals in the 54-hole four-ball stroke play competition. Each country is represented by two women and two men amateur golfers. Previous Spirit International competitors who now are professionals on the LPGA and PGA TOUR include Jordan Spieth, Francesco Molinari, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Martin Kaymer, Viktor Hovland, Lexi Thompson, Bronte Law, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson and Maria Fassi. Spirit alumni have gone on to win more than 650 professional events, including 23 major championships.
Golf fans can follow the competition at TheSpiritGolf.com
(@TheSpiritGolf). Admission and parking are free. Concessions are available for purchase onsite.
For more information about Whispering Pines Golf Club or The Spirit Golf Association, visit either WhisperingPinesGolfClub.com