Forget the (lopsided) score, the best part of the Arnold Palmer Cup was that it got played at all

December 23, 2020

The International team poses with the Arnold Palmer Cup after capping a convincing 40½-19½ victory on Wednesday at Bay Hill Club in Orlando.

The outcome was never in doubt on Wednesday at Bay Hill Club in Orlando. The only suspense left at the Arnold Palmer Cup, the annual Ryder Cup-style competition for college golf’s top male and female players, was how lopsided the final score would turn out. The 24-player International squad had a commanding 17-point lead over Team USA heading into singles play. Even with 24 points on the line in the final session, a miracle comeback was highly doubtful.

Fittingly, the Internationals completed an impressive three-day run by outpacing the Americans 14-10 in singles to secure a dominant 40½-19½ victory. Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, a freshman at Texas Tech, capped of a 4-0 week with his 5-and-4 victory over USA’s Zach Zediker (Delta State) to grab the clinching point.

More important than the final tally, however, was the fact the event was held at all. Originally to be played July 3-5 at Ireland’s Lahinch Golf Club, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to audible. Eventually, Bay Hill was secured as an alternative host site (fittingly, it held the first Palmer Cup in 1997) with a December date locked in and COVID safety protocols put in place (all players were tested upon arrival and stayed in a “bubble” while on property at Bay Hill).

Players who qualified for the July event were invited to play in December, even if they had already turned pro, creating a unique atmosphere for the competition. In a sign of the respect the event has garnered—this was the 24th playing and the third since it became a mixed-team competition with players from around the world—43 of the 48 original golfers who qualified competed.

“I decided to play this week because it’s an honor to make the team," Vanderbilt graduate John Augenstein, who turned pro after competing at the Masters as an amateur in November, told Golfweek. “I wanted to honor my acceptance of playing the tournament. Also it gives me some competitive golf to see where I’m at going forward.”

Unfortunately for Augenstein, he goes out on the losing side. The International team, coached by Washington’s Alan Murray (Ireland) and Virginia’s Ria Quiazon Scott (Philippines), won 9 of 12 points in Monday’s mixed four-balls and then 10 of 12 in Tuesday morning’s mixed foursomes session, essentially wrapping things up quickly. The Internationals also won Tuesday afternoon’s mixed foursomes, 7-5. 

Three other International players won three of their four matches: Mathias Schmid (Louisville), Kaleigh Telfer (Auburn) and Angelina Ye (Stanford). Schmid earned the players’ vote to receive an exemption into the Arnold Palmer Invitational next March.