Germantown - Before Germantown resident Bruce Pate hopped on a plane to South Africa to compete on the U.S. team in the 18th annual World Golfers Amateur Championship, he said the biggest challenge would be overcoming his own mental doubts.
Pate was one of five Americans who qualified in a national competition to represent the U.S. in the international challenge where golfers from 40 countries faced off.
When Pate stepped onto the course in Durban, South Africa, on Oct. 30 for the first day of the four-day competition, the wind became his biggest rival.
"It was very hard for everyone to play," Pate said. "It was pretty grueling conditions."
The five members of the U.S.A. championship team competed in five different flights. Pate, who has a handicap of 11.3, was in flight two. The golfers' scores were tallied for each flight against their international competitors to see which country would go home with the World Golfer's Championship trophy.
The key for Pate, a lifelong golfer, was to forget the conditions and focus on the game. Despite playing on unfamiliar courses and in difficult conditions, the U.S. team finished sixth in the tournament - the best finish the U.S. team has had in the 18-year history of the competition.
After two days of practice with teammates from around the nation, Pate stepped onto the course at the Durban Country Club for his first round of official competition, facing wet and windy weather. His score was 92, and he placed 10th out of 24 golfers in his flight at the end of the day.
On the second day of competition, Pate said the wind and rain increased. The wind reached speeds of 40 miles per hour as Pate played on the Umhlali golf course. The U.S. team struggled on day two. Pate scored a 96, dropping to 14th place, while the team's placement sat at seventh.
"You have to focus on your game and forget what the conditions are and do the best you can," Pate said.
The golfers got little reprieve from the rain on the third day of play at the Princes Grant golf course. Pate said his game improved; however, and he moved up to 10th, while the team remained in seventh place.
It had been a long week as the five U.S. golfers went into the final day of competition. Pate said he played well, ending seventh on the leader board and catching up seven strokes on the last day. His strong finish helped the U.S. team finish sixth.
Though the competition was a success, the part Pate will forever remember is the opening ceremony. Each country's team walked into an arena following their team captain, who carried their country's flag in front of a crowd of about 350 people.
"It was phenomenal," Pate said. "There was a lot of pride for everyone to be involved in that."
Pate, who has golfed since he was 3 years old, is focusing his attention on competing in the sport he loves. He said he hopes to qualify for the world championship again next year that will once again be held in South Africa.
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