The U.S. team dominated the singles session at the Concession Cup and erased a five-point deficit against the Europeans to win, 13-11, claiming the fourth playing of the matches on Saturday at Real Club Valderrama in Sotogrande, Spain.
After the first three editions of the tournament were held at the Concession Club in Florida, this was the first time the match had been played overseas. The Americans won the first three editions, in 2014, 2016 and 2018, before the 2020 match was canceled due to the pandemic. The Ryder Cup-style event pits the 12 best American mid-amateur and senior ams against their European counterparts. This year’s match marked the expansion of the Great Britain and Ireland team to include players from all of Europe.
Captained by Danny Yates, the Americans fell into an 8½-3½ hole through the first two days. The Europeans lost the first two matches on day one but roared back to take a 4-2 lead in the four-ball session, and then grew their lead even larger on day two, when the comfortable foursomes format suited them well.
England’s Rupert Kellock and Stephen Jensen, Ireland’s Caolan Rafferty and France’s Gregoire Schoeb all won two points for the Europeans over the first two days. All 12 of the Europeans were a part of a winning team in building the five-point lead.
But the Americans tend to be most comfortable in singles as their depth comes more into play. In a dramatic comeback, the U.S. went 6-0-1 in the first seven matches on Saturday to flip the script. Almost every match came down to the end.
Doug Hanzel beat Jensen, 2 and 1; Evan Beck beat Matthew McClean, 3 and 2; Rusty Strawn beat Martin Birkholz, 2 and 1; Tug Maude beat Rafferty, 1 up; Mike McCoy beat Kellock, 1 up; Joe Deraney tied Hugh Foley; and Bob Royak beat Jody Fanagan, 3 and 2. Matthew Sughrue, Brad Nurski and Matthew Mattare were victors late in the day to finish off the narrow victory. Nursk and Mattare both won by 1-up scores.
There were plenty of dramatics. McCoy made a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to steal his match. Hanzel won three of his last five holes to extinguish Jensen. Maude won the 18th hole to beat Rafferty.
The U.S. won the singles portion, 9½-2½, to complete the rally. Beck was the top performer for the American side, winning 2½ points. Hanzel, Royal, McCoy and Strawn won two points each.
Although the ultimate outcome was the same with the U.S. winning, the tenor of this Concession Cup changed the match’s future. The previous three matches hadn’t been close, and the addition of continental Europe proved to be a huge boost.
In 2024, the tournament returns to Florida, and female competitors will be a part of the event for the first time.
Argentina’s Valentina Rossi erased a four-stroke deficit in the final round to capture the Women’s Amateur Latin America championship on Sunday at Pilar Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Rossi, the second consecutive Michigan State golfer to win the tournament, shot a 3-under 69 in the final round to finish at 9-under 279. Her one-stroke victory made her the first Argentine victor of the event.
“Winning this championship is incredible; I am really happy,” Rossi said. “It’s extra special to have won the championship in Argentina. All my family is here to celebrate, and being with them is really, really nice.”
For the second year in a row, the tournament seemed to be in the hands of Colombian María José Martin. The 16-year-old held a four-stroke lead heading into the final round but gave it away with a 74 on the last day. It was similar to a year ago, when Valery Plata overtook a reeling Martin for the title.
This year, Rossi made birdies on Nos. 7, 8 and 9 to cut the deficit to one stroke while Martin was playing steady golf. Martin began to make mistakes on the back nine, suffering bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14. Rossi had birdied No. 13, giving her a lead that she wouldn’t relinquish.
Rossi will now play in three major championships after earning exemptions into the AIG Women’s Open, Amundi Evian Championship and Chevron Championship in 2023. She also will compete in the 119th Women’s Amateur Championship at Prince’s in England and the Hilton Grand Vacations Annika Invitational.
Staff and Wire Reports