The United States placed 10th in the 2011 World Golfers Championship on the Durban Country Club, the Prince’s Grant Golf Estate, the Umhlali Country Club and the Zimbali Golf Course in Kwa-Zula Natal, South Africa with a total of 1,210 for the best four scores daily over 72 holes.
Thailand, led by flight 16-20 winner Yutthachai Phaireeron, claimed the title with a 1,161 total, three strokes ahead of China. Other members of the winning team were Deja Klakasikich, Chaiyaport Chorhuat, Tanaseth Sakdiwatjirakul and Chakrit Wanglomklang. Host South Africa took the bronze at 1,184.
Bob Neal of Arlington, TX led the Americans, posting a net 296 in the 0-5 division to finish third, losing a scorecard playoff on back 9 net for the silver medal. He finished a stroke behind winner Sue Dieners of Germany, who got six more strokes than Neal in the final round. Mark Thomas of Detroit finished fifth in the 5-10 division with a 300 total. Other members of the U.S. team were Eddie Stephens of Wilmette, IL, Ivan Marin of Miami, FL and David Weatherspoon of Arvada, CO.
U.S. captain Anders Bengtson said, “Of all the events I have been to, this was by far the best run tournament ever. All members of Team USA were thrilled and will have a memory of a lifetime.”
Members of the U.S. team echoed Bengtson’s feelings about the experience and privilege of representing their country in the international competition and the exchanges with golfers from all over the world.
“I was so nervous playing for my country,” said Marin. “I was so afraid I would embarass myself. It was a lot of pressure,”
Stephens added, “South Africa is an amazing place! It was a terrific experience. It was a privilege I will not soon forget.”
Neal, who easily had the best gross score in the competition playing off 1 and 2 handicaps, noted the four courses were all in good shape and made even more challenging by the windy conditions. “The handicap format seemed to reward bad rounds early and I had my worst round the last day,” he said.
The other individual world champions were Jurie Jerling of Russia, Rong Kun Yang of China and Vilem Benes of the Czech Republic.
In the invitational division, Mary Hauk of Detroit and Bengtson each had 318 totals to place 11th and 7th in their respective divisions.
While there was lots to celebrate in South Africa, there were sad moments, too. Sven Tumba, who started the competition 17 years ago, was missing after dying earlier in October at age 80.
The World Golfers Championship will return to South Africa for the 18th annual edition Oct. 27-Nov. 3, 2012.
Bengtson indicated that the date and site for the 2012 U.S. finals along with more information about the new WG US Tour, a series of events in major markets across the U.S., would be announced soon.