Americans win overall competition by 12 strokes over host Argentina January 8, 2010 By Pete Kowalski, USGA

The USA Team, from left to right, of Jennifer Song, Jessica Korda, Peter Uihlein and Nathan Smith won the 2010 Copa de las Americas by 12 shots over host Argentina. Steve Smyers (second from left) captained the American side. (Courtesy Argentina Golf Association)

The USA claimed its second consecutive Copa de las Americas overall championship with a 72-hole total of 10-over-par 1158 to win the 2010 competition by 12 strokes over host Argentina at Olivos Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Canada and Colombia finished tied for third at 1184 in this team competition for countries in North, South and Latin America.

Each country is permitted to send four-person teams consisting of two men and two women. The combined score for each day is used to determine the team’s overall total. Besides the overall competition, awards were handed out for the top men’s and top women’s teams.

In the men’s event, host Argentina edged the USA by five strokes, while the American women bested Colombia by 10 strokes to take the title.

This was the fourth Copa de las Americas, but the first held in South America. The inaugural competition in 2003 was conducted in Puerto Rico. Mexico (2005) and Canada (2007) hosted the ensuing two events.

 The team was patient and focused, said USA captain Steve Smyers. They didn’t get ahead of themselves. It’s fun to watch the team bond together and interact with each other so well. They are serious about it. They are dedicated.

According to Smyers, the second round served as the turning point when the USA managed a 22-stroke turnaround on the 18-hole leaders from Argentina. It helped fourth-place USA catapult from a 10-stroke deficit to a 12-stroke lead.

We turned it around in the second round, said Smyers. And we got a tremendous momentum boost by keeping the lead in the third round.

The USA, which swept the competition categories in Canada in 2007, claimed the women’s event with a record-low score of 583, while Argentina’s 570 total was good enough to win the men’s event.

Winning as a team is so good, said the USA’s Jennifer Song, who won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links to become just the second female to ever claim two USGA championships in the same year (Pearl Sinn in 1988). You can never be happier than winning as a team. It takes so much effort.

For the USA, Song, Nathan Smith and Peter Uihlein – the latter two were members of the victorious 2009 Walker Cup Team – each shot even-par 72s in the final round, while Jessica Korda added a 75. In the pivotal second round, Uhlein and Korda each posted 69s, while Smith and Song added 75s.

With a quartet of junior players, Argentina was able to narrow a 14-stroke USA 54-hole lead to 10 strokes behind 15-year-olds Victoria Tanco and Manuela Carbajo Re, and 17-year-olds Emiliano Grillo and Tomas Cocha. Argentina posted a 72-hole total of 1170. Tanco’s third-round 65 was the lowest of the competition, while final rounds of 69 by Cocha and 70 by Grillo helped the Argentina men defeat the strong twosome from the USA.

Grillo was the low individual in the men’s competition at 7-under 279.

Emiliano had a great tournament, said Argentine captain Miguel Leeson. The USA was just steady and it was very difficult to get it back against those players.

Canada, meanwhile, came into the competition having won two of the last three Copa de las Americas. Matt Hill and Nick Taylor paced the men to a fourth-place showing, while the women’s duo of Stephanie Sherlock and Jennifer Kirby also finished fourth, five strokes behind Argentina. Taylor was the low amateur at the 2009 U.S. Open

Colombia’s Juliana Murcia, who helped Arizona State win the 2009 NCAA Division I title, and Luz Alejandra Cangrejo, a semifinalist at the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior, shot 593 to place second in the women’s competition.

Andrea Jun, of Paraguay, and Murcia shared low individual honors in the women’s competition at 1-over-par 289.