Canadian golfer Albin Choi certainly can handle the truth. In fact, he demands it.
Canada, which started the day with a five-stroke lead, was trying to hold onto a one-stroke advantage heading into the final hole Sunday in this past week’s Copa de las Americas tournament at Trump National Doral.
Choi came to the 18th tee on the famed Blue Monster and knew the tournament was close — how close, he did not know. He went over to team captain Robert Ratcliffe and, according to Ratcliffe, asked, “Don’t lie to me, where are we?”
Ratcliffe told Choi, Canada’s anchor player, that he probably needed a par from him on the course’s most infamous hole.
And it all came down to a final putt, a 12-footer that Choi needed to make for that par and a Canadian victory. He drained it.
“I just said it needed to go down, and that’s what I did,” Choi said of his winning putt. “It was definitely pressure-filled coming down these last few holes.”
As Choi’s putt went into the hole, the two-man, two-woman Canadian team of Choi, Corey Conners, Brooke Mackenzie Henderson and Augusta James had put together a four-day total of 25-over-par 1,177. Mexico totaled 1,178 strokes for second place, and the United States was third at 1,179. That’s a total of 3,534 swings by the three teams with the final difference among them just three strokes.
Choi, 20, plays college golf for North Carolina State, and called the Copa de las Americas victory, “Huge. It’s one of our biggest events.”
The tournament had special meaning to him because, “It will be my last event with Team Canada.”
Canada took the Copa trophy for a third time, adding to wins in 2003 and 2005. The United States won the two most recent Copa tournaments in 2007 and 2010.
The Copa de las Americas, conducted by the Americas Golf Association and hosted by the U.S. Golf Association, is a team event for amateurs in North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Played approximately every two years, it consists of three 72-hole stroke-play competitions — overall, men and women.
The event was being held in the United States for the first time in its history, and the United States did not walk away empty-handed.
Lindy Duncan and Erynne Lee of the United States shot 21-over 597 to take the women’s championship by one stroke.
Duncan, who played her high school golf at Plantation American Heritage and now plays for Duke, has known Lee, who plays for UCLA, since their junior golf days.
“We’ve known each other for quite a long time,” Lee said.
Asked what her long-term goal in golf is, Duncan looked over at Lee and said with a laugh, “I want to beat Erynne Lee. I was real happy to pair with her in this tournament. I got to see some real golf.”
Said Lee, “It’s definitely special knowing that our names will be on the award, going down in history.”
Mexico’s Rodolfo Cazaubon and Carlos Ortiz captured the men’s championship at 1-under 575, a four-stroke advantage over Canada.