Harman Wins World Cup Title; Team USA Repeats
Twenty-one years after capturing his second World Golf Teachers Cup individual title in 1998, USGTF national course director Mark Harman finally found his way back into the winner’s circle at the WGTF’s flagship event when he captured the 2019 event at La Iguana Golf Club in Herradura, Costa Rica, February 13-15. Harman fired rounds of 71-75 – 146 to hold off Costa Rica’s own Alejandro Duque by two strokes at the beautiful Marriott Los Sueños Resort on the Pacific coast.
Gorgeous 90° weather with blue skies every day greeted the competitors for the 14th biennial playing o
f the World Cup (the event moved from annual to biennial in 2001). The La Iguana course was immaculately groomed with superb playing conditions. A fair test awaited all, but one word that was used to describe the Ted Robinson-designed layout was “fun.” Wildlife such as parrots, Capuchin monkeys and of course, iguanas, could be seen on and around the layout. With the vacation town of Jaco just 10 minutes down the road, those who ventured to this Central America paradise were treated to the tournament of a lifetime.
Harman overcame an opening-hole double bogey and started the tournament with a one-under-par 71 to lead Duque by one and 2003 World Cup individual champion Dave Belling of Canada by three. All three players were grouped together for the final round as it appeared to be a three-man race. Harman again double-bogeyed the first hole, a tricky par-5, and struggled to a 40 on the front nine, including an uncharacteristic four-putt green on the third hole. Duque, Costa Rica’s best professional player, failed to take advantage as he also carded a 40. Belling, meanwhile, got himself into the catbird seat and moved into a tie for the lead going into the final nine holes.
However, the four-putt bug that bit Harman also got Belling as he opened the back nine with a four-putt double bogey on the par-3 10th hole while Harman and Duque both made par. Belling’s attempt at victory was further derailed on the back nine as he wound up with a final-round 79. Duque, meanwhile, was unable to make any headway, while Harman righted the ship by ripping off three birdies to take a comfortable four-shot lead after the 15th hole. Two sloppy three-putts by Harman on #16 and #18 did little to damage his cause because of his large lead at that point.
“In many ways, this was the best World Cup I’ve ever been to,” remarked Harman. “Costa Rica is a fabulous place to visit, and I’m glad I was able to make the trip.” As for his effort in the individual championship, Harman gave it mixed reviews. “I had moments where I played extremely well and moments where I looked like I never played. The first hole gave me fits because the approach shot was way uphill, and where I live in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, it’s real flat. The greens were fantastic, but in the second round the putter for the most part just wouldn’t cooperate.”
Belling, who also competed for the World Cup Senior Golf Teachers Cup title, didn’t go home empty-handed as he also captured that championship. Mary Wolf from Texas, a frequent competitor in WGTF and USGTF events, won her first Ladies division championship by shooting 87-84 – 171. Ray Holder from New Mexico held off Peter Louis from California to take the Legends title with scores of 85-87 – 172.
After the individual championships were decided, the team event took place the final day in a round-robin match play format featuring the United States, Canada and Asia. Team USA swept all of its matches to win the championship for the ninth time in 14 tries. The individual highlight of the team portion was provided by Canada’s Belling when he aced the par-3 14th hole.
Competitor Louis summed up the feelings of the participants when he said, “Fabulous golf course unbelievable facilities. It was a pleasure to meet you all and to play with some of you. You are all exceptional and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it. Thanks to Mark and the rest of the team for organizing this treat.”