(Scottsdale, Ariz.) May 19, 2011 —For the first time in the history of Mexican sports, an international golf tournament took place between Mexico and the United States under a Ryder Cup format at Peninsula de Cortes Golf Course at the Mayan Palace in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico May 12-15, 2011.
The U.S. team, captained by Scottsdale’s Vito Berlingeri, who was also the tournament director along with Andrew Gilchrist of the Peninsula De Cortes Golf Course, emerged with a 56- win, but the competition was about more than golf. “The event exceeded our expectations,” Berlingeri said. “All of the matches were very close and our amateurs played their hearts out. We won the overall matches in terms of points, but the most important thing was that golf brought the two countries together and so many new friendships were formed. There were a lot of emotional moments.”
The objective of the Uniting Nations Cup was to promote friendship, commercial and cultural relations between the two countries. It succeeded because of the people involved. “We utilized golf as an ambassador,” Berlingeri said. “What developed was way beyond our expectations. Golf brought the two countries together.” Guillermo Padres Elias, Governor of Sonora, and Bob Walkup, Mayor of Tucson, attended the opening ceremonies.
Ten Southwest Section PGA Professionals competed against 10 Mexican PGA Professionals, along with 40 amateurs selected by the golf organizations of both countries. The Americans won the individual matches 26-24, the Four Ball matches 14.5 to 10.5, and the Foursome matches 15.5 to 9.5.
The event was the brainchild of Andrew Gilchrist, the tournament host and director of golf at Peninsula De Cortes Golf Course, and Berlingeri, who is also the marketing director of the Southwest Section PGA. Berlingeri said the Inaugural Uniting Nations Cup will promote goodwill between the two countries for a long time. “We will make this an annual event and utilize the game of golf to continue to strengthen our relationships,” he said. “We expect it to be bigger and better next year.”
Among the PGA Professionals the SWSPGA invited were Don Yrene, director of golf at The Golf Club Scottsdale and five-time Southwest Section PGA Player of the Year; Brandon Smith, head golf professional at Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club in Tucson; Mike Wright, former president of the Southwest Section PGA and director of instruction at Superstition Springs Golf Club in Mesa; Rich Elias, Head Professional Canoa Ranch; Greg Avant, Director of Golf at Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler; Bob Pancratz, Life Member PGA; Blayne Hobbs, Lead Instructor, Reid/West Golf Academy; Jon Chaffee, Lead Instructor Talking Stick GC; Jeff Yurkiewicz, Lead Instructor Grayhawk, and Mike Malaska, Director Of Instructor Superstition Mountain.