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Americans rally to claim Palmer Cup

GREENWICH, Conn.—The Palmer Cup annually pits college golf's elite from the United States and Europe, but the 15th edition of the competition at The Stanwich Club came down to a match-up of Pac-10 rivals. The U.S.'s Andrew Yun, who just wrapped up his sophomore year at Stanford, and Europe's Pontus Widegren, a junior-to-be at UCLA, were slated in Saturday's eighth and final singles match. Both had a hunch the overall result might rest with them, given Europe's narrow 8 1/2-7 1/2 lead entering the final day of the three-day affair.

"I've known him for a while," Yun said. "Pontus is a great golfer, and a great guy, but with our ties, this was a little personal."

Palmer Cup victory photo.jpg


All square in their match walking down the par-5 17th hole, Yun turned to Widegren with a smile. "This is what it's all about, isn't it?" said Yun, who figured that with the rest of his American teammates by the green, the overall match was still in the balance.

With Patrick Cantlay, Bank Vongvanij, Daniel Miernicki and Chris Williams having already won their matches under overcast skies, and Blayne Barber earning a half point, the Americans had secured 12 points overall, ensuring no worse than a tie.

To Yun's credit, the 20-year-old from Chandler, Ariz., seized the moment, hitting his approach shot 10 feet above the hole, and then converting the birdie putt to clinch at least a half point in his match and guarantee a victory for the U.S. The two players halved the 18th, giving Yun a 1-up win and the U.S. a 13-11 victory overall.

"I can't say enough for how these guys finished," said U.S. coach Tim Poe, moonlighting from his job at Central Missouri and becoming the first Division II coach to lead the U.S. side. "Starting off, things were pretty tight but in the middle of the round they seemed to start pouring it on. But in the end, the way they finished things off when the pressure was on, that impressed me the most."

In the opening game, Cantlay, the college player of the year from UCLA who is set to play in next week's U.S. Open, fell 3 down to Nick MacAndrew after five holes, only to win six of the next nine holes to turn the momentum and win 3 and 1. Similarly, Miernicki made three birdies in a four-hole stretch to seize control of his match with Robert Karlsson, as did Williams in his contest with Henrik Norlander.

When Williams closed out his match, the U.S. needed to win just one more point out of three remaining matches on the course, all three of which stood all square. Georgia All-American Russell Henley hoped he could close things out, playing the 18th hole against Sebastian Cappelen. But Cappelen proceeded to hit his approach on the par-4 18th to within three feet, and the holed birdie putt gave him the victory.

Coming up 18 then was the Barber/Ignacio Elvira match. Both players hit the fairway off the tee and were on the green in regulation. Two-putt pars from each resulted in the only halved match of the afternoon, and brought the ultimate outcome down to Yun/Widegren.

"it's tough to put into words, really," Poe said. "For a Division II coach to be able to do this, I told all my colleagues that I was going to try to represent them as best I could. But this was incredible."

The U.S. holds the overall lead in the competition 8-6-1.


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SATURDAY Singles
Patrick Cantlay, USA df. Nick MacAndrew, 3 and 1
Nils Floren, Europe df. Alex Carpenter, 4 and 2
Bank Vongvanij, USA df. Jeff Karlsson, 6 and 5
Daniel Miernicki, USA df. Robert Karlsson, 5 and 3
Sebastian Cappelen, Europe df. Russell Henley, 1 up
Blayne Barber, USA halved Ignacio Elvira
Chris Williams, USA, df. Henrik Norlander, 3 and 2
Andrew Yun, USA df. Pontus Widegren, 1 up

THURSDAY Foursomes Matches Results
Bank Vongvanij/Andrew Yun, USA df. Nils Floren/Nick MacAndrew, 5 and 4
Sebastian Cappelen/Ignacio Elvira, Europe df. Blayne Barber/Alex Carpenter, 5 and 3
Daniel Miernicki/Chris Williams, USA halved Jeff Karlsson/Robert Karlsson
Henrik Norlander/Pontus Widegren, Europe df. Patrick Cantlay/Russell Henley, 5 and 4

THURSDAY Four-Ball Matches Results
Bank Vongvanij/Andrew Yun, USA df. Sebastian Cappelen/Ignacio Elvira, 2 and 1
Nils Floren/Jeff Karlsson, Europe df. Patrick Cantlay/Alex Carpenter, 4 and 2
Daniel Miernicki/Chris Williams, USA df. Robert Karlsson/Nick MacAndrew, 4 and 3
Blayne Barber/Russell Henley, USA df. Henrik Norlander, Pontus Widegren, 3 and 2

FRIDAY Singles
Pontus Widegren, Europe def. Bank Vongvanij, 6 and 4
Andrew Yun, USA df. Nick MacAndrew, 7 and 6
Nils Floren, Europe df. Daniel Miernicki, 3 and 2
Jeff Karlsson, Europe df. Alex Carpenter, 2 and 1
Robert Karlsson, Europe halved Patrick Cantlay
Sebastian Cappelen, Europe df. Russell Henley, 1-up
Ignacio Elvira, Europe halved Chris Williams
Blayne Barber, USA df. Henrik Norlander, 2 and 1

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The Michael Carter Award is presented to the Palmer Cup participants from each team who best represent the qualities and ideals of the award's namesake, a former Palmer Cup intern who died in an car accident at age 19. This year's winners were Russell Henley of the U.S. and Ignacio Elvira from Europe.

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Three of the eight players on the U.S. side are next heading for to the U.S. Open at Congressional CC this week. Along with Patrick Cantlay, Russell Henley and Chris Williams are amateur qualifiers.
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