Colombia sweeps golf’s reintroduction at Pan Am Games
TORONTO – As Marcelo Rozo rolled in his last putt, the Colombian flag was raised on the 18th green at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont.
Rozo’s win sealed gold for Colombia in the team portion of golf at the Pan Am Games, as Rozo took home the individual gold, and Mariajo Uribe completed the sweep by winning the women’s top honor.
The tournament was considered a test run for next year’s Olympics when golf returns after a 112-year absence. Canada is the defending gold medalist at the Olympics, with George S. Lyon winning the last Olympic golf gold in 1904.
But this week it was all about Colombia, with Rozo, who plays on the Web.com Tour, and LPGA Tour pro Uribe, taking the men’s and women’s gold medals respectively, and Colombia winning team gold, which was a combination of daily low scores shot over four rounds. The silver team medal was won by the U.S., led by amateurs Beau Hossler and Andrea Lee, while Argentina took the bronze.
Chilean Felipe Aguilar and Argentine Tommy Cocha went to a playoff for silver and bronze in the men’s event.
American Andrea Lee won women’s silver and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada bronze.
With his gold medal Rozo will gain entry to the RBC Canadian Open next week in Oakville, Ont. It will be his first PGA Tour start. The Colombian had planned on going to visit his girlfriend this week, but said she understood the change of plans.
“I was going to go to New York to see my girlfriend after two months,” he said. “But she’ll understand. I told her last night and she was very happy and supportive. I was thankful for that.”
Canada came eighth in the team portion of the tournament, despite the withdrawal of rising teen star Brooke Henderson.
Henderson, 17, said she would play in the games, but instead decided she would play on the Symetra Tour, where she finished tied for seventh. Unable to replace Henderson on the team, Canada was represented on the women’s side by veteran Lorie Kane. Kane finished tied for 19th.
Canada’s main hopes rested on teenager Austin Connelly, who started the final round four shots off the lead. But Connelly, a dual citizen who lives in Dallas, Texas, and spends his summers in Nova Scotia, didn’t have much success in the final round finishing the tournament in fifth.
“I got off to a rough start,” Connelly said. “I hit what I thought was a pretty good tee ball on three and it kicked right into the hazard. That isn’t a good start when you’re four shots off the lead.”
Connelly’s teammate for the men’s portion of the tournament was Garrett Rank, an amateur who is a professional hockey referee and officiated a handful of NHL games this past season.
“I played great every day minus one hole,” Rank said, who finished in 15th-place. “If it was a 17-hole tournament, I’d be 10-under for the week. It was a good week and the game is moving in the right direction and a good confidence builder for the rest of the summer.”
As for the notion of playing golf full-time, Rank says he’ll stick with his officiating gig.
“I’m comfortable in my job and I love playing golf and everything that comes with it,” Rank says. “I might consider professional golf down the road, but right at the moment it is too much of a risk considering my job.”
Rank, like Connelly, will play in the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey next week.
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