The Arnold Palmer Cup, a collegiate golf tournament, bearing the name of one of the greats of the game, invites elite golfers from across the world to face the best in the U.S. since 1997. Despite multiple international athletes representing their country in the Palmer Cup, a Brazilian has never previously participated.
That changed Friday when a Florida Gator teed off at the Golf Club de Geneve in Switzerland.
Junior Fred Biondi was invited to participate in this year's Arnold Palmer Cup after a successful season at UF, becoming the first Brazilian to participate in the tournament from July 1-3.
The São Paulo, Brazil, native secured a first team All-American selection this season and appeared in his first major championship at the U.S. Open. Biondi was selected to join Team International in April, ranking second in the Arnold Palmer Cup final spring rankings for international men golfers in college. He joined 27 other golfers from across the world to form the team.
Biondi paired up with Alabama sophomore Benedetta Moresco from Italy to face off against the Team USA pair of Arizona State freshman Calynne Rosholt and Vanderbilt junior Cole Sherwood for their first match of the tournament.
As the people of Gainesville were fast asleep at 4 a.m., the Gator golfer hit his first shot of the match. In the first hole of day one, Biondi and Moresco secured an early lead, finishing the hole with a birdie. They fell behind two strokes after the USA duo earned back-to-back birdies in holes 13 and 14. But, in clutch fashion, the international duo earned an eagle on hole 16. The match ended in a tie, earning Team International half a point.
Starting day two, Team International led Team USA 6.5-5.5 after the first 12 matches on day one. Biondi had two matches, making up 36 holes on the day.
He played with Oklahoma State senior Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen of Denmark in the morning match, facing off against Team USA’s Sherwood and his new Vanderbilt teammate, sophomore Gordon Sargent.
Despite the Vandy connection from Team USA in the match, Biondi and Neergaard-Petersen dominated through 18 holes, never giving up the lead. They finished one stroke better than their opponents. After securing a point for Team International, Biondi went into the afternoon match with a familiar face from day one.
Moresco once again teamed up with Biondi to battle Louisiana State junior Latanna Stone and Texas junior Travis Vick.
It was a back-and-forth affair until the Americans took a lead, going one up on the International duo on the ninth hole. That lead held up till the Biondi-Moresco duo worked together to get a birdie on hole 14, tying the match. With the match ending in a tie, Biondi earned 1.5 points for Team International in day two, advancing to the final day of the tournament.
The Sunday singles matches were the deciding factor, as both teams sat knotted at 18 after intense competition throughout the tournament. Biondi, without any help, needed to secure a point for his team.
He matched up against Texas A&M senior Sam Bennett, a fellow amateur in this year’s U.S. Open. A top Southeastern Conference battle on the green sprouted between two of the conference's best golfers.
Even though the two golfers saw plenty of time with each other on multiple courses, Biondi didn’t hesitate to remind the Aggie golfer of a feeling he remembered all too well. The Brazilian golfer got four birdies, one eagle and only one bogey as he held on to his lead from Bennett for 18 holes.
Biondi managed to win every match he was a part of, pushing Team International to a 33-27 victory over Team USA and adding Palmer Cup champion to his resume.
Contact Brandon Hernandez at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.
Brandon Hernandez is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is a writer for The Alligator, Gator Country and for PlugTalkSports. You can find most of his work on his Twitter (BranH2001) and on his podcast, “The Courtside Podcast,” on Spotify.