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Migliaccio: Why the Arnold Palmer Cup is much more than who wins and who loses

U.S. Palmer Cup team

SUGAR GROVE, Illinois – Everybody wants to beat America, and every American wants to show the world who is the best. This year – after two consecutive losses in the Arnold Palmer Cup – the United States of America has finally won again.

But more importantly, regardless of the outcome, the Arnold Palmer legacy continues to live on.

Although divided by nationality, the Palmer Cup brought together 48 elite golfers from all over the world to bond, laugh, grow, and compete together. It’s the only amateur event in the world where men and women play alongside one another and learn the incredible legacy of Mr. Palmer.

The Palmer Cup holds a special place the hearts of four players. Alex Fitzpatrick and Lauren Walsh from Team International, and Rachel Kuehn and myself, Emilia Migliaccio, from Team USA. We all attend Wake Forest University, the school that Palmer attended. Each day when we walk to our facility, we face the towering statue of Mr. Palmer, and each day, we are reminded of what kind of person we want to live up to.

Better yet – the head coach of the American team was Wake Forest head coach Kim Lewellen, who coached her first Palmer Cup this week.

“To be named the Arnold Palmer up captain is an amazing honor, and to represent your country and the legacy of Arnold Palmer in a team event is something that only happens here. When you think about it, we had the 48 best players in the world represented here and four of them are from Wake Forest University. Sharing this experience with these unbelievable athletes is the memory of a lifetime,” Lewellen said following the final round of the Ryder Cup-formatted tournament.

Walsh represented Ireland on the International side and competed in her first Arnold Palmer Cup: “Playing in the Palmer Cup is definitely going to stand out as a highlight for me. I loved every minute of competing for the international team. It’s such an honor to be able to play in such a special event that honors Mr. Palmer’s legacy. While the result didn’t go the international’s way, I’ve learned so much and made a lot of memories.”

This was Kuehn’s second time playing in the Arnold Palmer Cup: “To come back and win after a loss last year was really exciting, but this week was so much more than that. We got to play alongside all the best players in the world and we get to add our name to a list of so many great players and be a part of history.”

“Representing the international team was incredible because I got the chance to meet so many people from so many different places and make friendships I’d never though was possible. Representing Wake Forest is great because of the legacy with Arnold Palmer. Wearing Wake Forest on the front of my shirt is something I’ll always be proud to do,” said Fitzpatrick, who also played for the second time.

Arnold Palmer Cup ends with U.S. win

At the 25th Arnold Palmer Cup, Team USA defeated Team International, 33-27.

This is my fourth time competing in a Palmer Cup, the most ever out of any player. It’s an honor to hold this record and get to play one of my last amateur events representing my country and Mr. Palmer.

I never got to meet Mr. Palmer, but when I was 10 years old, I told my mom I wanted his autograph. She said to me, “Write him a letter. He’ll respond.” A couple weeks later, I received a package in the mail with a signed photograph from Mr. Palmer. As a child, when I listened to people talk about Mr. Palmer, no one spoke about his golf successes – which were many.

Everyone spoke of the memory they shared with him or the unique stories they’d been told.

It all came full circle when I flew to Evian, France, and experienced his tournament for the first time. I signed 100 flags and learned the importance of a legible signature, and I listened to even more inspiring stories about Mr. Palmer. There’s a reason why this recap of the 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup doesn’t talk about the matches, the wins, or the losses but talks about four players and one coach’s experience.

The Arnold Palmer Cup is so much more than a win or a loss. It’s a growth moment for every player: to feel proud to be selected, to learn how to legibly sign their name, and to bond with players all over the world.