Korea cruises to title in Abu Dhabi

World No. 4 Minsol Kim’s 4-under 68 and a 71 from Kyrorim Seo led the Republic of Korea to the gold medal in the 30th World Amateur Team Championship Saturday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

It is Korea’s fourth Espirito Santo Trophy victory in the last seven competitions and their fifth all time.

“I’m very honored that we won this tournament,” said Seo. “I’m very grateful for my teammates doing well all four days. Our teamwork and effort helped win today.”

Korea jumped out to a solo lead early in the round and never surrendered it. Kim, who was the runner-up in the 2023 Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific, made back-to-back birdies on the par-5 second and par-4 third holes and again on the eighth and ninth.

“I was focused on my play,” said Kim. “I didn’t putt as aggressively as the first three rounds. I was more relaxed and just tried to make par and some became birdies.”

Korea’s 72-hole score of 22-under-par 554 was four strokes better than silver-medal winning Chinese Taipei and five better than the bronze medal winners Spain.

Chinese Taipei, which began the day three back from the leaders, leaped into silver position after a birdie-birdie finish from Huai-Chien Hsu, a sophomore at the University of Texas.

After missing the green left on the par-4 17th, Hsu chipped in from 18 yards for a three and followed with a 9-footer for birdie on the last hole to post a team score of 558.

“I told my coach [on 17], ‘I think I can make a birdie here. It doesn’t have to be a putt,’ and I chipped it in,” said Hsu.

“I was just trying to birdie a few [holes] on the back [nine] and ended up birdieing four.”

This is Chinese Taipei’s first medal in its 16 Women’s World Amateur Team appearances.

Spain, the 54-hole co-leader, could not find its form of earlier in the week and posted a fourth-round 144, which included a 2-under 70 from Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio and a 74 from Carla Bernat Escuder.

The Spaniards managed to get within two shots of Korea with two holes to play but found heartbreak on the 72nd hole for the second year in a row. All three players bogeyed the par-5 18th hole to drop Spain from silver position to bronze at 559.

“It’s really disappointing,” said Spain Captain Mar Ruiz de la Torre.

“Last year we were in the same situation, and this year again. It’s really a pity because they played well. We just didn’t have too much luck with the putts.”

England had a share of the lead with Korea at one point Saturday afternoon after a batch of birdies from Florida State University teammates Lottie Woad and Charlotte Heath.

Woad birdied every par 4 on the front nine to post a 31 at the turn but would cool off on the back nine as England finished with a 4-under 140 to post 560 alongside Thailand, one shot shy of the bronze behind Spain.

Australia and the United States of American finished in a tie for sixth at 561. Megan Schofill led the USA with a bogey-free 5-under 67 and Anna Davis added a 69 as the Americans posted the low-round of the day.

Canada was eighth at 564 and New Zealand finished ninth at 565.

Korea receives custody of the Espirito Santo Trophy until the next World Amateur Team Championship, which will be held in 2025 at Tenah Merah Country Club’s Tampines Course in Singapore.

Members of the winning team receive gold medals; members of the second-place team receive silver medals; and members of the third-place team receive bronze medals.

Although there is no official recognition, Chinese Taipei’s Huai-Chien Hsu was the low individual scorer at 13-under 275.

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