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Spirit Stands Out In Amateur Annals

The Spirit International Amateur Championship, to be played for the seventh time at Whispering Pines Golf Club near Houston this week, is one of the more unique amateur tournaments in the global game. It is distinct in so many ways. First off, it is played at the same venue every other year, alternating with the World Amateur Team Championship. It brings together coed teams of four – two men and two women – from 20 countries, including India for the first time this year. It is a 72-hole tournament with five competitions played concurrently: combined best ball for the men’s and women’s teams; separate men’s and women’s best-ball events; and men’s and women’s individual titles. And instead of being televised, it is webcast at the tournament site, Participating teams are selected based on the combined men’s and women’s results from the previous World Amateur Team Championship. The Spirit has an Olympic flavor, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded for each competition. And it has its own Olympic-styled village, Camp Olympia, where the players stay, dine, and enjoy special evening festivities. Fittingly, the event also has elaborate opening and closing ceremonies. The age range is fascinating. While the average age of the 80-person field is 191⁄2, Japan will field a 14-year-old boy and girl, South Africa will bring a 27-year-old woman and India will send a 38-year-old man.


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