The Italian team combined to shoot 31-under 541, edging Sweden and the United States to win the men’s World Amateur Team Championship on Saturday at Le Golf National near Paris.
The performance marked Italy’s first medal of any kind in 32 Eisenhower Trophy appearances. Despite having only one player in the top 100 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking, the trio of Filippo Celli, Pietro Bovari and Marco Florioli were consistent enough to thwart more star-studded teams throughout the 72-hole stroke-play event that counts each country’s two best scores for each round.
“The key point today is that I have seen our players winning without thinking about the results,” Italian captain Matteo Delpodio said. “They were winners on the golf course. When you see players playing this way with this attitude, the results do not matter. What matters is that they played like champions.”
Italy joined Japan and the U.S. in trailing Sweden by one stroke through 54 holes as the four countries were separated by a single shot. Japan, the 36-hole leader by five strokes, would struggle on the final day and leave the other three countries to battle for the medals.
Bovari got Italy off to a hot start when he made four consecutive birdies on the front nine, and then Florioli made six birdies in an eight-hole stretch during the middle of the round. The 14th hole ended up being crucial, as Bovari made a 70-foot eagle putt and Florioli chipped in for birdie. Sweden’s trio made three pars on the hole, losing valuable ground.
“Sometimes it happens,” Bovari said. “Today was one of those days. It went in the dead middle of the cup. I didn’t have the strength in me to yell. I put my arms up to celebrate.”
Sweden’s Tobias Jonsson, who was the low individual for the tournament at 17-under, made a valiant push on the final nine with a 3-under 32. It wasn’t quite enough as his teammate, world No. 3 Ludvig Åberg, stumbled with a closing bogey that would have forced a tie. The scorecard playoff would have favored the Italians, however, as their non-counting score (70) bested the Swedes’ third-best score (73).
In the end, Florioli’s bogey-free 65 and Bovari’s 3-under 68 pushed the Italians through. It was a true team effort as Celli finished tied for fourth overall in the individual standings – his score counted in each of the first three rounds. All three Italians finished in the top 15 of the individual standings, which was impressive considering the 213 players competing in the event.
The U.S., which settled for bronze, received some stellar play out of Austin Greaser. The Ohio native closed with a 4-under 67 and broke 70 in all four rounds to finish solo third in the individual standings, one stroke behind Japan’s Taiga Semikawa. American Michael Thorbjornsen also had a strong tournament, finishing tied for 11th. He opened with three consecutive 68s before struggling to an even-par 71 on the last day.
Among other notes, NCAA champion Gordon Sargent had a tough showing (T36) for the American side, at least by his lofty standards. World No. 1 Keita Nakajima (T53) struggled for Japan, particularly during a third-round 75. Other notable performances were from world No. 10 David Puig, who finished tied for fourth, and Åberg, who claimed a tie for seventh.
The next World Amateur Team Championship will take place in October 2023 in Dubai. It will be held henceforth in odd-numbered years to avoid same-year conflict with future Summer Olympic Games.
Shortly after winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, Canada’s Shelly Stouffer has added more hardware. The 52-year-old from Nanoose, British Columbia, shot 3-over 219 to win the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur on Thursday at Breezy Bend Country Club in Headingley, Manitoba.
Stouffer found herself in a battle with Terrill Samuel and Christina Spence Proteau down the stretch on the back nine. Proteau seemed poised to win before making bogeys on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to finish at 5-over 221. Samuel also had difficulties on those holes, as she bogeyed 16 and 17 to fall to 4-over 220.
Though she made a bogey on 17, Stouffer had come off a birdie on 15 and made par on Nos. 16 and 18 to close out a one-stroke victory.
Stouffer also captured the senior women’s amateur and mid-master divisions, which are played concurrently.
“That’s the first time I won the mid-am, so [I’m] pretty excited about that,” Stouffer said. “Last year I won just the mid-master and the senior, so it was exciting.”
Stouffer is the second Canadian in history to win both the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and the Canadian Women’s Senior in the same year, joining World Golf Hall of Famer, Marlene Streit, who accomplished the feat in 1995.