It was a hotly contested finale at the World Junior Girls Championship at Camelot Golf & Country Club in Ottawa this weekend, but when all was said and done, after a sudden death playoff on the 18th hole, it was Italy who prevailed over the USA to capture gold.
The Italian team, who led by as much as 10 strokes earlier in the week, needed to find an extra gear after regulation play concluded with both countries tied at 22-under. It found it in the form of team stalwart Alessia Nobilio, who sank a final birdie in the last playoff group to capture Italy’s first medal at the World Junior Girls Championship. Nobilio’s teammates Caterina Don and Emilie Paltrinieri, who were waiting anxiously greenside locking arms with coach Enrico Trentin, rushed the green to congratulate the young Italian golfer who led her team all week with her splendid play.
It was a bittersweet defeat for the USA, who managed to close a nine-stroke gap yesterday, only to come up short in the end. But for the Italian team, the relief was palpable.
It is obvious that there is real chemistry between the three Italian girls, who recently competed as a unit at the World Amateur Team Championship in Ireland, placing 6th. That chemistry and mutual friendship has served them well.
“Being friends is the key for our team, we support each other. When one of us shoots 6 under, we want the other one to shoot 7 under or 8 under.”
Joining the Italian team on the podium was the USA with silver and Thailand with bronze. The Thai team were powered by the fantastic display put on by 15-year-old gold medalist Atthaya Thitikul, who set a new course and tournament record this week with a score of 60, 12-under par, on Friday. Nobilio took home silver, while American Zoe Campos captured the bronze medal. Brooke Seay of the USA finished fourth at 8-under for the week, while Canada’s Céleste Dao put up a solid score of 70 (-2) on Friday to finish in fifth place.
Team Canada One, comprised of Céleste Dao (Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Qué.), Ellie Szeryk (London, Ont.) and Tiffany Kong (Vancouver, B.C.) finished fourth in the team competition with a score of 10 under. Emily Zhu (Richmond Hill, Ont.), Sarah Beqaj (Toronto, Ont.) and Lauren Kim (Surrey, B.C.) who make up Canada Two, completed the week in 18th place.
It was a fairly disappointing result for the Home Nations. After starting with a round one team score of 152, England followed up with three much better rounds to claw themselves into 10th place with a total team score of 8-over par. Ireland finished in 12th with a team score of 17-over, and Scotland in 15th at +23.
The World Junior Girls Championship was conducted by Golf Canada in partnership with Golf Ontario and supported by the R&A and the International Golf Federation. Recognized as an ‘A’ ranked event by the World Amateur Golf Rankings, the World Junior Girls Championship was in its fifth edition. Canada will host again next year.
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