TRINTY, Texas—Anytime 80 of the best amateur golfers in the world congregate in the same place, there’s bound to be record-breakers in the group.
The fact is every player in The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship, the seventh playing of which begins Wednesday at Whispering Pines Golf Club, has accomplished major feats in their careers. This year the biennial 72-hole, team best ball event features 74 national champions or No. 1-ranked players in their respective countries.
There’s one young lady from the United Kingdom, however, whose achievement might trump them all.
Earlier this year, 20-year-old Alexandra Peters from Shifnal, England, broke a 90-year gender barrier when she became the first woman to play in the prestigious Halford Hewitt championship.
Every year since 1923, Britain’s top 64 private high schools send teams of 10 boys to vie for the prestigious Halford Hewitt.
Until this year, that is.
Like all the schools involved, Wellington College—a private institute for high school juniors and seniors—sent its best 10 players, which this year included Peters.
"It was very odd because I had to play the men’s tees…well, that and I was the only female around the whole event,” said Peters, who won the 2012 English Ladies Amateur Championship. "It was very different. It’s always been boys who played golf. Not many women have played, but my school gives golf scholarships and I got one of them.”
Wellington College advanced to the third round of the Halford Hewitt, regarded as a success by Peters.
"Yes, I thought we got along very well,” said Peters, who joins Meghan MacLaren, Nick Marsh and Paul Howard to comprise the English Team at The Spirit International. England won consecutive International Team gold medals at the 2005 and ’07 Spirits.
While it likely was a bit lonely for Peters at the Halford Hewitt, things were at least a little more comfortable back at Wellington College. Peters played on the "mixed golf team” along with her friend Heidi Baek. The two were the only women on the team.
Peters, who plans to turn professional after The Spirit, said she was proud of breaking the Halford Hewitt gender barrier. But she’s more interested in being known as a successful golfer. Her hot start at the 2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open stands to help her in that regard.
Through 12 holes in the first round at Royal Liverpool, Peters found herself alone at the top of the leaderboard in the major championship.
"Karrie Webb was a hole ahead of me, and on 13 she made a bogey,” Peters said. "I made a birdie on 12 and was in the lead at 2-under par.”
She finished the round with a 1-over 73 and eventually missed the cut. Peters said she and her teammates have enjoyed their practice rounds at Whispering Pines and likes their chances to earn England its third team gold medal when play begins Wednesday.
For more information on The Spirit International, please visit www.thespiritgolf.com.
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