US team named for World Golfers Championship

Representing your country in any international competition is usually reserved for the elite from any sport, like the golf professionals playing in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales Oct. 1-3, but five amateurs from the United States will get this once-in-a-lifetime experience when they travel to Thailand for the World Golfers Championship. Earning that honor by winning their respective flights in the U.S. finals at the Wigwam Resort Red and Gold Courses in Litchfield Park, AZ were Paul Goering of Dallas, TX, Bill Nitcholas of Carrollton, TX, Bil Criteser of El Mirage, AZ, Shauna Federico of Wellington, FL and Stuart Cunningham of Singer Island, FL. Goering, who carries a +2 handicap at Castle Hills Golf Club in Carrollton, TX, posted a pair of two-under-par 70s for net 72s to claim the 0-5 flight by a comfortable five strokes over Ray Madrid of Sun City, AZ. Mark Pirtle of El Cajon, CA followed at 151 and earned an exemption to the 2011 U.S. finals along with the other second and third finishers. Nitcholas, the golf coach at Irving MacArthur High School, posted net 68-70—138 to cruise to a comfortable margin in the 6-10 flight as nearest rivals Chris Borkowski of Sun City, AZ and Wayne McCollum of Palm Springs, CA finished at 147 and 148, respectively. Parker Smith of Sun City, AZ, the 6-10 representative in Spain last year, had to withdraw during the final round after opening with a 72. Criteser, who switches to southpaw on the greens, proved the most steady player in the 11-15 flight with 69-73—142, finishing two strokes in front of James Adams of Vero Beach, FL and five ahead of Doug Bisson of Rowlett, TX. Federico, a member of the Executive Women’s Golf Association, breezed to a five-stroke margin over defending champion Tony Ott of West Palm Beach, FL in the 16-20 flight with net 68-65—133. Gray Hagen of Grand Prairie, TX placed third at 144. Cunningham, a member of the President Country Club in West Palm Beach, FL, overcame a five-stroke deficit to win the 21-25 flight with 71-73—144, a stroke ahead of 18-hole leader Richard Waldie of Penbrook Pines, FL. Frank McInerny, a member of the 2009 U.S. team from Yonkers, NY, placed third at 73-75—148. The five amateurs will join competitors from 36 other countries, including Australia for the first time, in a 72-hole competition Nov. 3-6 at the Banyon Golf Club, the Black Mountain Golf Club, the Palm Hills Golf Club and the Springfield Royal Country Club in the resort area of Hua-Him about two hours from Bangkok. The low four scores will be counted each day to determine a team score and each of the players will compete for individual honors within flights. Indonesia is the defending champion. Go to for additional information. In addition to expenses to Thailand, allowed by the United States Golf Association under an exception to the rules of amateur status, each player will receive golf bags from LT Golf in Kerrville, TX, umbrellas from Gustbuster in Farmington, NY and sunglasses from Sundog Eyewear in Calagary, Alberta, Canada. Zoom Boom of Colleyville, TX will also provide its training aid for the team. Anders Bengtson, the captain of the U.S. team from West Palm Beach, FL, likened the World Golfers Championship to a true Olympics of golf. “It’s where amateurs compete on equal terms just the way Pierre de Coubertain visioned when he created the Olympics,” Bengtson said. Realizing that golf was becoming a global sport, International Hockey Hall of Fame member Sven Tumba of Sweden organized the World Golfers Championship 16 years ago as an invitational event to give amateurs of all skill levels a taste of an international competition and then turned it into a separate team concept later. In addition to top resorts in the U.S. like PGA National, Mission Inn and Doral, the competition has been held previously in the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, South Africa and Thailand. Players in the U.S. who would like to have a chance to advance to the 2011 World Golfers Championship in South Africa should contact Bengtson at or 561-313-9083 to discuss having a qualifying event at their clubs starting in January. “We will announce a site for the 2011 U.S. finals after returning from Thailand,” Bengtson noted. “Anybody, male or female, with a handicap of 25 or better can participate.” Arizona Golf was privileged to help conduct the US finals qualifying for the World Golfers Championship last week at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park. Lorraine Thies and Ed Gowan provided handicap research resources and Rules of Golf oversight in the championship. AGA partner, Jim Stracka and provided a virtual tournament for qualifying players to the US finals, the first time the event was held in the west. Follow Arizona’s Bill Criteser from El Mirage as he represents Arizona and the USA in Thailand the first week of October. World Golfers Championship Wigwam Resort Red, Gold Courses   0-5 flight Paul Goering 72-72–144 Ray Madrid 75-75–150 Mark Pirtle 72-79–151   6-10 Bill Nitcholas 68-70–138 Chris Borkowski 76-71–147 Wayne McCollum 75-73–148   11-15 Bil Criteser 69-73–142 James Adams 68-76–144 Doug Bisson 73-74–147   16-20 Shauna Federico 68-65–133 Tony Ott 69-69–138 Gary Hagen 67-77–144   21-25 Stuart Cunningham 71-73–144 Richard Waldie 66-79–145 Frank McInerny 73-75–148