A closing bogey by the world’s top-ranked amateur handed Sweden its first Espirito Santo Trophy since 2008 and relegated the U.S. to a silver medal on Saturday at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Paris.
American superstar Rose Zhang had just birdied No. 17 to move to 4 under on her final round and give the U.S. trio of Zhang, Rachel Heck and Rachel Kuehn a one-shot lead over Sweden with one hole to play. But Zhang, now a three-time McCormack Medal winner and the reigning NCAA individual champion, missed the green with her approach at Golf de Saint-Nom-La-Breteche’s par-4 18th hole and then failed to convert a 7-footer for par.
“She hit an excellent chip shot and we thought the putt would break right, but it went straight,” U.S. captain Pam Murray said. “That’s golf.”
The missed putt knocked the U.S. into a tie with Sweden, which won the gold-medal tiebreaker (best non-counting score, which Louise Rydqvist edged Kuehn’s final-round 74 by a single stroke).
“There is obviously that tinge of disappointment,” Zhang said. “On that last putt, I actually hit a really good putt exactly where I wanted, but it just didn’t go in the hole. It was disappointing to end that way, but I am really proud of how we fought back on the last day.”
The Americans started the final round four shots back of Germany, which shared bronze with Japan. Sweden was five off the lead before Ingrid Lindblad, the No. 2 amateur in the world, closed in 69 and teammate Meja Ortengren added a 70 capped by a 7-foot make at No. 18.
“I knew pretty much all day that I had a counting score,” Lindblad said. “We knew that after yesterday at Le Golf National we would have to go for it whether we finished second or 14th.”
Sweden now has eight medals, three of which are gold. The U.S. ran its record medal total to 21, which includes 14 golds and four silvers. The Americans were trying to become the first back-to-back WATC winners on the women’s side since South Korea did so in 2010 and ’12.
“Regardless of the result, I met a lot of people from different cultures,” said Zhang, who will now return to Stanford for her sophomore season. “I even learned some Japanese from that team, and I made some really good friends. I’m disappointed, but it shows that golf is an up-and-down sport. You can never get too comfortable; I am just going to work harder in the future.”