September 21, 2021
Team USA Players Announced for The 2021 Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship presented by The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation

Team USA Features National Champions and Top 10 World-Ranked Players

HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 20, 2021) – Four of the country’s top collegiate players have been named to Team USA for The 2021 Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship (The Spirit). The Spirit, a biennial event staged Nov. 4-6 at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, is a premier amateur competition featuring the world’s best amateur golfers – men and women – representing their respective countries in team and individual play.

Representing Team USA is Rachel Heck (Stanford, Memphis, Tenn.), Rose Zhang (Stanford, Irvine, Calif.), Sam Bennett (Texas A&M, Madisonville, Texas) and James Piot (Michigan State, Canton, Mich.). More information on Team USA is below.

The Spirit features 80 competitors from 20 countries. It is a 54-hole competition with five concurrent competition categories: international team, men’s team and women’s team, and men’s and women’s individual stroke play competitions. Gold, Silver and Bronze commemorative medals are awarded to the top three in each competition.

Team USA is looking for its sixth win in the overall competition. Its last win came in 2015. The 2017 event was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey.

Stacy Lewis, a 13-time LPGA Champion and accomplished international competitor, will return as captain of Team USA for The 2021 Spirit. A five-time member of the United States Solheim Cup team as player, she recently served as an assistant captain for the 2021 event. Lewis played on the victorious 2008 Curtis Cup team and was the first player to win all five matches (5-0) in Curtis Cup history. She also represented the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Alli Jarrett, who played collegiate golf at South Carolina and former USGA Regional Director, is the assistant captain for Team USA.

“The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship is such a special event. I’m thrilled to return to Whispering Pines and to work with these talented young players,’ Lewis said. “We have some of the best amateur players in the world on Team USA, and I know they will represent our country well. I look forward to another incredible week of competition.”

A closer look at Team USA:

Rachel Heck
Memphis, Tenn. • Stanford University, Sophomore • St. Agnes Academy
Ranked No. 2 in World Amateur Golf Rankings…2021 NCAA Individual Champion and PING/WGCA Player of the Year… Won Pac-12 Conference Championship, NCAA Regional and NCAA Championship consecutively as a freshman…WGCA and Golfweek First-Team All-America selection…Placed third at 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur…Participated in 2021 U.S. Women’s Open and 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur… Represented Team USA at 2021 Curtis Cup and 2019 Junior Solheim Cup.

Rose Zhang
Irvine, Calif. • Stanford University, Freshman • Pacific High School
Ranked No. 1 in World Amateur Golf Rankings…Won 2021 U.S. Girls Junior Championship and 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur…Earned entry into the 2020 and 2021 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur…Has won eight junior or amateur national events since 2019 … Represented the United States in the 2017 and 2019 Junior Solheim Cups, 2018 Junior Ryder Cup and the 2021 Curtis Cup.

Sam Bennett
Madisonville, Texas • Texas A&M, Senior • Madisonville High School
Ranked No. 9 in World Amateur Golf Rankings…Named First-Team All-American by PING in 2021…Selected First-Team All-SEC in 2020 and 2021…Ben Hogan Award semi-finalist…Chosen to represent the United States in the 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup…Won three times during the 2020-21 collegiate season…Placed ninth at the 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship.

James Piot
Canton, Michigan • Michigan State University, Fifth Year • Detroit Catholic Central
Won 2021 U.S. Amateur Championship… Ranked No. 45 in World Amateur Golf Rankings…Selected PING All-America honorable mention in 2021… Selected First-team All-Big Ten in 2021 and earned an individual bid to the NCAA Championships…Has won six times in collegiate or amateur events since 2019.

The Spirit Golf Association has partnered with GOLF Channel to produce the live stream of the Championship. The livestream will be available during competition on, the NBC Sports app and on GOLF Channel will present the highlight show in primetime, from 7-9 pm ET on Dec. 9, followed by an encore presentation on Dec. 11 from 4-6 pm ET. The highlight show will be the first television presentation of The Spirit in its 20-year history.

Whispering Pines Golf Club is widely recognized as the best golf course in the state of Texas. The beautiful, 18-hole Championship Golf Course is carved through piney woods, creeks, lakes and natural dunes. It was originally designed in 1998 by Texas golf course architect Chet Williams with the Nicklaus Design Group. In December 2019, Williams returned for the course’s construction during the end-of-season closure. The 2021 Spirit will be the first played on the updated layout.

The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation, founded in 2014, raises funds to support research aimed at understanding the causes and finding a cure for debilitating headaches, including migraines and cluster headaches. The Foundation was created to honor the memory of Will Erwin, whose story as well as additional information about the Foundation, may be found at

The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship presented by The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation kicks off with an opening ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Practice rounds are Wednesday, Nov. 3 before three days of competition begin on Thursday, Nov. 4.

About The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship:
This biennial event staged for the 10th time in 2021, is a premier amateur competition featuring the world’s best men and women amateurs representing their respective countries in team and individual play. Eighty competitors from 20 countries 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 Lorena Ochoa, Brooke Henderson, Scottie Scheffler, Bernd Wiesberger, Jordan Spieth, Francesco Molinari, Lexi Thompson, Brandt Snedeker, Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Bronte Law, Martin Kaymer, Maria Fassi, Austin Ernst, Ally Ewing, Jessica Korda, Will Zalatoris and Viktor Hovland, to name a few. Spirit alumni have gone on to win more than 650 professional titles, 25 major championships and 56 Olympic appearances, including 16 PGA Tour winners, 26 European Tour winners, 24 LPGA winners and 22 Ladies European Tour winners. The Spirit Golf Association is dedicated to the promotion of amateur golf for the benefit of health-related causes. The Texas Golf Association administers the championship in coordination with the SGA staff.

About the Spirit Golf Association (SGA):
The Spirit Golf Association, 501(c)(3), serves as the host for The Spirit. The SGA was formed in 1999 by Houston philanthropist Corby Robertson. With a passionate vision, Robertson turned SGA into reality by establishing a unique charitable organization that benefits health-related causes while promoting the global goodwill of amateur golf. In addition, SGA also hosts the Spirit Charity Challenge featuring Spirit alumni and Spirit Hall of Fame Game, which features local sports Hall of Famers and celebrities. Charlie Epps, PGA, serves as president and has been associated with the SGA since it was created in 1999 and was captain of Team USA in the 2001 inaugural Spirit Championship. Mark Steinbauer, PGA, and Jeff Strong, PGA are vice-presidents.

About The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation:
The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization founded in 2014. The Foundation was created with the goal of finding a cure for debilitating headaches including migraine and cluster headaches. The Erwin Headache Research Center is dedicated to leading the way in research to find a cure for these neurological disorders and to bring an end to the pain experienced by so many.

About Whispering Pines Golf Club:
Located just 80 miles north of Houston along the shores of Lake Livingston, Whispering Pines Golf Club is one of the best private golf clubs in the country. Whispering Pines is ranked #1 in Texas and was recently ranked #19 in the top 200 modern courses in the country by Golfweek. Chris Rowe, PGA, is the head golf professional and Tim Timlin is the General Manager at Whispering Pines.

Media Contacts:
Will Doctor | Spirit Golf Association,, c: 713-471-8603
Tammy Boclair | Alday Public Relations,, c: 615-500-2930