SA takes top five at Spirit International
South Africa sealed a third top five finish in the country’s seventh appearance in the prestigious Spirit International in the United States with a final round four-under-par 68 at Whispering Pines near Trinity in Texas on Saturday.
The United States lifted the title on a total team score of 33-under-par 399, while South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Louis Taylor, Kim Williams and Lara Weinstein combined for rounds of 134-136-140 to finish fifth on 22-under-par 410.
Williams, making a record fourth appearance in the biennial championship, reeled in 11 birdies over 54 holes to celebrate her swansong with a tie for third in the Women’s Individual Competition. She and Weinstein also finished third in the Women’s Team Division, five shots behind winners France.
Taylor and Bezuidenhout collected eight birdies apiece to finish eighth in the Men’s Team Division. Both players tied for 16th in the Men’s Individual Competition.
South Africa has participated since the inaugural event, held in 2001. The country’s best performance come in 2005, when George Coetzee, Josh Cunliffe, Ashleigh Simon and Kelli Shean finished close second with the United States behind champions England.
Williams, who was a member of the team that tied for fifth in 2011, said the team combined well and the spirit in the side was incredible.
“This was undoubtedly my favourite Spirit, and I am thrilled that we could claim another top five finish for South Africa,” the reigning Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur champion said.
“The conditions at Whispering Pines are always tough and was made even tougher by the storms, the water-logged course and the nearly 26 hour delay to the start of this year’s championship.
“I think it says a lot about the standard of golf in South Africa, considering that we competed against the national champions and top ranked golfers from 20 countries across six continents.
“Louis, Lara and Christiaan were fantastic team mates. They are such talented golfers, but it was their determination and fighting spirit that impressed most.
“I must commend the South African Golf Association on their decision to send the national coach with the team this year. Having Llewellyn (van Leeuwen) with us in the course of the tournament was fantastic. His advice, optimism and support was invaluable and he was an inspiration to the team.”
FINAL TEAMS LEADERBOARD (top 5)
399 United States 127-138-134
405 France 139-130-136
407 Malaysia 134-133-140
408 Finland 141-133-134
410 South Africa 134-136-140
FINAL WOMEN’S TEAM RESULT (top 3)
204 France 71-64-69
205 United States 66-69-70
206 South Africa 67-67-72; Malaysia 69-65-72
FINAL MEN’S TEAM RESULT (top 3)
194 United States 61-69-64
200 Finland 71-66-63; Sweden 64-68-68
204 South Africa 67-69-68
FINAL WOMEN INDIVIDUAL (Top 3)
1 Brooke Henderson CAN (13 birdies)
2 Mathilda Cappeliez FRA (12 birdies)
T3 Kim Williams RSA; Yumi Matsubara JAP (11 birdies)
FINAL MEN INDIVIDUAL (Top 3)
Jordan Niebrugge USA; Julien Brun FRA; scottie Scheffler USA; Toni Hakula FIN (14 birdies)
T16 Christiaan Bezuidenhout RSA; Louis Taylor RSA (8 birdies)