South African getaway
As you check out the results of various women’s college tournaments in the next few days, don’t be surprised if some of the top squads have an off week. That’s because many of the game’s best players are actually in South Africa competing in the biennial Women's World Amateur Team Championship.
Indeed, six of the top 10 finishers at last spring’s NCAA Championship teed it up this morning in the opening round of the WATC at De Zalze GC in Stellenbosch, South Africa, with a total of 18 U.S. collegians overall playing in the tournament. (For live scoring, click here.)
The format of the WATC isn’t far off from a typical college event. Each country in the field—42 total—has three women on its team with the two low scores each day counting toward the team total as the countries vie for the Espirito Santo Trophy. Sweden is the defending champion, beating the U.S. and Canada by three shots in 2004.
The WATC is a great tournament, one that doesn’t get a lot of publicity in the U.S. but truly does help promote golf globally. It’s not a stretch to call this event golf’s version of the Olympics. I got a chance to cover the WATC in Puerto Rico two years ago and learn a lot about the history of the tournament and what makes it special to so many. After the women's portion concludes Saturday, the men compete Oct. 26-29 at Stellenbosch GC.
Here is a listing of all the women's college players that are in the field (as well as the one college coach in the field, Oklahoma State's Laura Matthews). The schools that take the biggest hits are Duke, USC, Pepperdine and Arizona State, with two current players away from each squad to play in the WATC. Not surprisingly, only one of the four (Duke) is playing at the Stanford Intercollegiate this weekend, the other three waiting until next week’s UNLV event to resume their fall schedules.
Manuela Tarazona, Argentina (Jacksonville State)
Laura Matthews, Canada (Oklahoma State)
Kira Meixner, Canada (Kent State)
Alejandra Shaw, Chile (Campbell)
Eileen Vargas, Colombia (Pepperdine)
Sandra Gal, Germany (Florida)
Erina Hara, Japan (Tohuku Fukushi University)
Liliana Alvarez, Mexico (Northwestern)
Christel Boeljon, Netherlands (Purdue)
Dewi-Claire Schreefel, Netherlands (USC)
Natasha Krishna, New Zealand (Nevada)
Lene Krog, Norway (East Carolina)
Belen Mozo, Spain (USC)*
Azahara Munoz, Spain (Arizona State)
Anna Nordquist, Sweden (Arizona State)
Caroline Westrup, Sweden (Florida State)
Kwan-Chi Lu, Taipei (Taipei Physical Education College)
Veronica Felibert, Venezuela (USC)
Stephanie Gelleni, Venezuela (Pepperdine)
Amanda Blumenherst, USA (Duke)
Jennie Lee, USA (Duke)
One last note … for an interesting perspective on the WATC (and a harrowing experience in the days before the event), check out the blog Duke sophomores Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee are writing from the tournament. The two are joined by U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kimberly Kim on the U.S. squad, hoping to claim the title to go with the Curtis Cup they won this past summer.