Nov 20, 2023 7:17 PM
Article courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club/Sharon Robb.
On Sunday, November 19, Audi (Stuart “Sugar” Erskine, Brandon Phillips, Marc Ganzi, Kris Kampsen) defeated Maltese Falcons (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan, Alejandro Novillo Astrada) 12-11 in overtime to take home the National Twenty Goal title. The final high goal tournament of the fall season at Grand Champions Polo Club (GCPC) in Wellington, Florida, doubled as a rematch between the North American Cup finalists.
Audi has dominated the National Twenty Goal with five total wins, including back-to-back victories in 2012 and 2013. Fielding a 17-goal roster, Audi started the match with three goals on handicap. Marc Ganzi led the pack with four goals, including two penalty conversions in the opening chukker. Phillips and Kampsen each had two goals and Erskine had one.
While Maltese Falcons struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities, Audi took advantage of their opponent’s slow start and jumped out to a 6-1 lead early in the second chukker. "We had a big lead, but in 20-goal polo they are just as good as you or better," Kampsen stated. "You can never take that lead for granted."
Maltese Falcons mounted their comeback late in the third, trailing 7-5 at the half. Audi maintained their two-goal lead until the fifth chukker when Roldan and Crowder scored back-to-back, tying the game 9-all. In the final chukker, Maltese Falcons took an 11-10 lead - but with just under a minute remaining, Kampsen beat his defender to score and tie it up at 11, taking the game into overtime.
"We had a few bad errors and they capitalized on every mistake we had," noted Kampsen. "It seemed like every good bounce they were winning every throw-in. In the sixth chukker, Sugar [Erskine] and I decided to change a bit and let him take the quick ball that pops out. We tried to limit their attack."
“We had a big lead, but in 20-goal polo they are just as good as you or better. You can never take that lead for granted.” – Audi's Kris Kampsen
In overtime, Kampsen broke out of a crowd with the ball and lofted the winning shot over everyone's head to clinch the win and earn the title of Most Valuable Player. “The ball just popped out," recalled Kampsen. "They threw it in and somehow it ended up on my right. I grabbed it, the referee called to clear, and I just happened to be 20-yards out of [the] goal."
Rated at 6-goals for 20 consecutive years, the MVP received his handicap rating at just 21-years-old. "I've never gotten better, and I've never gotten worse," Kampsen playfully added.
Kampsen's horse, Tarantula, a 10-year-old Argentine mare played in the second and fifth chukkers, was awarded Best Playing Pony. "It's more rewarding to get a best [pony]," said Kampsen, who acquired her last year from Matias Magrini. "She played well. She's played every level of polo — [including] Argentina and in the USPA Gold Cup last year."
Cognac, played by Erskine and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm (Wellington, Florida), was named the American Polo Horse Association’s Best Playing Pony.
Reflecting on a long history with GCPC, Kampsen said, "We were the first group of pros when they started Grand Champions. "We had just an epic spring and fall season the first couple of years and it really took off. I love trying to help and bring new people in and watch it continue to be successful."
“We were the first group of pros when they started Grand Champions [...] I love trying to help and bring new people in and watch it continue to be successful.” – Audi's Kris Kampsen on his history at Grand Champions Polo Club
Kampsen has been a staple at the Wellington locale since the club opened in 2007. “Thanks to Marc [Ganzi] and Melissa [Ganzi] for keeping it going this long. This is the best way to end the season — it's great to be back on Audi.”
All photos courtesy of ©Candace Ferreria.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More