Team Italy wins 2011 Jack Nicklaus International Invitational
The 2011 Jack Nicklaus International Invitational (JNII) concluded with its international final, known as the Tournament of Champions, Oct. 16–19 at The Bear’s Club, the Florida home club of Jack Nicklaus and the Nicklaus family. The Tournament of Champions brought together winners of each JNII national championship tournament held throughout nine countries on five continents. The national winners then played for their country at The Bear’s Club, where the team from Italy emerged with the international title.
This is the sixth year for this unique team golf event sponsored by Nicklaus International Brand Management. The 2011 JNII raised more than $650,000 for local charities in each country. Qualifying for national tournaments began in February 2011.
The tournament is a two-person team competition for amateur golf enthusiasts. The JNII promotes camaraderie, interest in the game of golf and is intended for players of all skill levels. Entrants receive an opportunity to play top courses in tournament-like conditions, with a chance to win great prizes, including a VIP trip to play for their country in the Tournament of Champions on Jack’s home course. The event format gives all players a fair chance at winning while enjoying great golf and hospitality.
The final competition of the JNII is an 18-hole, two-man scramble. Despite rain-soaked conditions that plagued the event and pushed the finale back a day, the 2011 championship team of Gianni Airaga and Rodolfo Pesati of Italy shot a 64 gross for a net 63.7. The Italians, playing alongside the Chinese team in the second-to-last pairing, were steady from the onset. They didn’t have a single blemish on their card, posting four birdies on the front and four on the back. However despite the 3-stroke margin of victory, the competition was much closer than it appeared. The American team, 30 years senior to the Italians, stayed with the “Azzurri” until the final two holes. William Murphy and Stephen Pook’s 67 placed them in second but their valiant effort earned them the well-deserved respect of their fellow competitors. Team South Africa took third with a late charge on the back nine. However, their bogey–double bogey start on the front nine was too much to overcome.
“Thank you again,” said Stephen Pook of Team USA. “This was a great experience. The JNII did an incredible job under these difficult (weather) conditions,”
This year’s festivities started with a welcome reception featuring Jack. Players were awarded their custom-made Golden Bear Champions Blazer, signifying them as their country’s national champion. For the entire championship week, players were treated like celebrities, with an all-expenses-paid, six-day stay in South Florida. Their prize package included: roundtrip air transportation; luxury ocean front accommodations; VIP hospitality; world-class golf at The Bear’s Club; and, mementos to remember this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
National tournaments for the 2012 Jack Nicklaus International Invitational are scheduled to begin in select countries around the world in early 2012. JNII events are open to all qualifying men and women of legal age who’ve not lost their amateur status. For additional information, visit www.jniigolf.com.
Nicklaus International Brand Management produces and markets casual lifestyle and golf apparel for men and women under the Jack Nicklaus®, Nicklaus® and Golden Bear® brands.
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