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Mexico Claims Inaugural Spirit International Amateur Championship

TRINITY - While the United States team gave a solid showing at the inaugural Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship, it was their neighbors to the south - Mexico - that stole the show at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity on Sunday.

Mexico easily won the international championship at 51-under par, beating second-place Korea by seven strokes. Lorena Ochoa and Violeta Retamoza claimed the women's team championship for Mexico with a four-round total of 28-under, and Ochoa won the women's individual champion at eight-under par following a 71 on Sunday.

The men's team from Mexico will return home with multiple medals as well. Alberto Valenzuela and Maruricio Mendez finished in a tie for third in the men's team competition, while Valenzuela tied Casey Wittenberg of the United States for second place in the men's individual competition at three-under par.

"This is one of the best moments in Mexican golf, for sure," an excited Valenzuela said. "It was a solid field. People didn't really see us as a power, but we're experienced players."

Ochoa, an All-American golfer at the University of Arizona and quarterfinalist in the 2000 United States Women's Amateur Championship, shot an opening-round 70 on Thursday and never looked back. She followed with rounds of 67 and 72, and finished with a 71 Sunday thanks to a birdie on the 18th hole that was set up by a beautiful approach shot to within five feet of the cup.

"I hit the ball really good today but I didn't make any putts," Ochoa said. " Finally, on 18, I just said, 'God, please,' and made one. I'm really happy about winning. This tournament was one of my goals for the year."

Robert Hamilton of the United States followed his course-record 64 on Saturday with a final-round 73, but it was still good enough for a five-stroke victory over Wittenberg and Valenzuela.

"I didn't play like I'd like to today," Hamilton said, "but I said yesterday this is a tough course. It caught me off guard a couple of times, but I was glad to finish the way I did."

Austria was the surprise winner of the men's team championship. Martin Wiegele, who finished in a third-place tied individually, and Thomas Kogler shot a 64 in the best-ball format Sunday to win by four shots over second-place New Zealand, South African and the United States. Austria had a one-stroke lead entering the final round.

"It's just an awesome feeling to win in this great championship," Wiegele said. "We're proud to be here and proud to be taking a medal home. It's got to be the greatest win ever for an Austrian team."

Meredith Duncan and Laura Myerscough of the United States finished in fourth place at 16-under in the women's team championship, one shot behind New Zealand. Duncan finished second at three-under par in the women's individual championship, and Myerscough placed 10th (+11).

The top three finishers in all five categories received gold, silver or bronze medals at the closing ceremonies which took place adjacent to the 18th green at the end of Sunday's competition. Tournament founder Corby Robertson said he couldn't have asked for a better result out of a first-time tournament.

"We're very blessed by everything the dear Lord has given us here," Robertson said during the closing ceremonies. "Beautiful weather, great golf and wonderful people. What a grand occasion."

Twenty four teams from six continents competed in The Spirit.

"This is a pretty awesome event, to be able to play for your country. I'd recommend it to anybody," Hamilton said . "If they can keep building it, this could turn into a huge event."

Final Tournament Scores

INTERNATIONAL TEAM

Par: Men's - 72,  Women's - 72

Yardage: Men's - 7160, Women's - 6250

COUNTRY

SCORES


1

2

3

4

Final

Net

Mexico
(GOLD)

131

127

134

133

525

-51

Korea
(SILVER)

128

133

136

135

532

-44

New Zealand
(BRONZE)

133

137

137

128

535

-41

USA

135

134

131

136

536

-40

Austria

138

138

133

132

541

-35

Thailand

134

135

140

135

544

-32

Spain

139

130

139

136

544

-32

Switzerland

135

140

136

140

551

-25

Germany

137

138

134

142

551

-25

South Africa

141

137

137

138

553

-23

Rep of China

142

139

133

141

555

-21

Chile

141

138

134

142

555

-21

France

139

137

141

139

556

-20

Brazil

140

141

137

142

560

-16

Philippines

139

142

141

139

561

-15

Guatemala

141

143

145

140

569

-7

Netherlands

144

136

144

146

570

-6

Ecuador

149

146

141

138

574

-2

Iceland

151

142

144

141

578

+2

Puerto Rico

148

142

146

143

579

+3

Russia

156

150

141

137

584

+8

Bolivia

151

151

149

149

600

+24

Slovakia

164

164

149

151

629

+53

Croatia

172

172

175

172

691

+115

 


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