2021 – The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship presented by The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation, November 4-6, 2021 — Whispering Pines Golf Club — Trinity, Texas
TRINITY, Texas (Nov. 6, 2021) – Paced by the two top amateurs in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings, Team USA ran away with the overall Team Championship to win gold medals in Saturday’s final round of The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship presented by The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation (The Spirit).
With a three-day total of 11-under-par 620, the U.S. Team dominated the competition at Whispering Pines Golf Club, the top-ranked course in Texas. In all, Team USA won four gold medals and one silver in the unique, biennial team event that consists of five concurrent competitions over 54 holes of stroke play.
“It was a lot of fun,” U.S. Captain Stacy Lewis said. “I was proud of the way the kids rallied. It was fun to have a chance coming up the 18th fairway. The kids were so great. I’m thankful that they came and for their fight when it’s a time they could be taking time off. I really appreciated what they did this week.”
World No. 1 and Stanford standout Rose Zhang took the gold medal in the Women’s Individual competition, her fourth individual title this fall. For the week, Zhang finished at 10-under 206, three shots clear of second place. Zhang’s college teammate Rachel Heck, the second-ranked amateur in the world, put together one of the best rounds of the week by any golfer on Saturday. She lit up Whispering Pines with a 5-under 67 that included an eagle on the par-5 17th hole.
Heck finished tied for fifth place at 2-under 124 in the Women’s Individual competition.
“It’s such an honor to play with my teammates and represent the United States,” Zhang said. “This week was just phenomenal. (U.S. Captain) Stacy (Lewis) is such an inspiration to young golfers like us out there. She’s been through so much, and I’ve learned so much from her. Having her with us this week was special.”
Not to be outdone, Team USA’s Sam Bennett earned gold in the Men’s Individual event with a 54-hole total of 6-under 210. Bennett’s U.S. teammate James Piot struggled over the final two rounds. He shared a piece of 12th place individually at 4-over 220. The U.S. Men earned a silver medal in the Men’s Team competition with a combined score of 2-under 430.
“On the first day, it was cold, and I couldn’t get comfortable out there,” said Bennett, the sixth-ranked golfer in the Men’s World Amateur Golf Rankings. “My swing didn’t feel good. I worked on a few things after the round. Hit a few putts. The last 36 holes, I felt like I was going to be tough to beat.”
Canada took the silver medal in the Team Championship at 7-under 641, a distant 21 shots behind the Americans. Sweden took the bronze at 6-under 642. France, the defending champions from 2019, placed fourth at 2-under 646. England came in fifth at even-par 648.
Sweden won gold in the Men’s Team event. The Swedes edged out the U.S. Team by one shot at 3-under 429. Sweden’s Hugo Townsend, a senior at Boise State, grabbed the silver medal in Men’s Individual with a final score of 4-under 212. Canada’s Johnny Travale won bronze at 3-under 213.
“They’ve been not really happy with their games, but we tried to tell them that this course is hard,” Sweden Captain Katerina Vangdal said. “It is a tough course. It is challenging. Every day, we told them, your score is good. Today, they’ll realize they did a good job out there.”
Mexico’s Isabella Fierro, an Oklahoma State junior and the 48th-ranked amateur in the world, won the silver medal in the Women’s Individual event. She closed with 67-69 in the final two rounds and posted 7-under 209 for the championship. Fierro was particularly impressive on the back nine at Whispering Pines, much of which skirts the scenic shores of Lake Livingston. She was 10-under par with no bogeys on the stretch of holes for the three-day tournament.
“It means the world,” Fierro said. “This is a team competition, and my job was to help the team as much as possible. The individual title is important, but this is a team event, and I want to help Mexico as much possible. It means the world to me; not just for me, but for my family, Oklahoma State, and for Mexico, and every single girl out there who is trying to get to this tournament in the future.”
Canada’s Savannah Grewal won the bronze medal in the Women’s Individual with a score of 5-under 211.
Don’t Miss the Highlight Show on GOLF Channel
The GOLF Channel will broadcast a primetime highlight show from The Spirit from 7-9 p.m. ET on Dec. 9. There also will be an encore presentation on Dec. 11 from 4-6 p.m. ET.
In addition, the GOLF Channel has plans to broadcast the highlight show in nearly 30 countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Korea and Indonesia.
Canada’s Noemie Pare’ made a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth hole in the final round. The former Barry University standout put a three-quarter swing on her 8-iron, and her shot headed straight at the flagstick. Her ball landed about 15 feet short of the hole, bounced twice, and rolled right in as if it was a putt.
“It had a good line,” she said. “It was a little thin, but it worked perfectly. It went in, then I was looking for my partner for a big hug.”
It was the third career ace of Pare’, all of which came in competitions. Her teammate Savannah Grewal rolled in a 12-foot birdie on No. 8, too, giving the Canadian Women’s Team an aggregate score of 3-under par on the hole.
For competitive golfers, it’s always a comforting feeling to know they have family support nearby. Usually that means a parent, sibling, or close friend walking along their group in the gallery. For Team Mexico’s Isabella and Alejandro Fierro, it’s a little different at The Spirit.
The sister and brother combo were both in the field representing their home country.
“My brother playing the same tournament (as me) is a dream come true,” said Fierro, who has one collegiate victory and 15 Top-10s in the past two seasons. “My family traveled all the way from Mexico. I miss that about college golf. I miss when my dad or sister or mom is applauding every shot. It is great to be here and for them to be able to support me and my brother.”
While Isabella won the silver medal individually (7-under, 209), Alejandro, one of the youngest golfers in the field this week at age 16, finished in 36th place. He’s a high school student at Montverde Academy in Florida with six junior golf wins and 18 Top-10s in the past two years. Alejandro said his two greatest influences on his golf game are his sister and Tiger Woods.
Women Lead in Scoring
Three of the top four individual scorers were women, led by USA’s Rose Zhang (-10, 206), followed by Isabella Fierro, Mexico (-7, 209) and Savannah Grewal, Canada (-5, 211). USA’s Sam Bennett was third with a -6, 210.