Sam Randolph got that major championship he wanted with a lot of good golf, some prodding from his caddy and a little help from a chiropractor.
Randolph, accompanied around the golf course by the chiropractor because of nagging lower back spasms, captured the U.S. Amateur title Sunday, defeating Peter Persons of Macon, Ga., 1-up in their 36-hole final.
The match was even until the 35th hole when Randolph hit a wedge to within 18 inches of the hole for a birdie. He closed out the match, sinking an eight-foot, par-saving putt after coming out of a bunker on his third shot.
“I did it and it wasn’t easy,” said Randolph, the runner-up to Scott Verplank in this event last year. “Things like this aren’t supposed to be easy.”
It was a gutsy performance by the 21-year-old USC golfer who started suffering back spasms on Friday during a quarter-final victory over two-time champion Jay Sigel of Berwyn, Pa.
The back did not bother him too much during Saturday’s semifinal victory over Canadian Jack Kay Jr., but it acted up Sunday, and Randolph was treated on the fifth tee and again in the locker room after the 27th hole by Dr. Rich Gueci.
Gueci, who also treated Randolph on Friday and Saturday, said the golfer suffered from an inflamed muscle in the lower right portion of his back.
“I did some muscle work on Sammy reducing the muscle spasms he was getting from that side,” he said.
Randolph said he felt a lot looser after the treatment.
“My chances would have been far less,” Randolph said when asked about the treatment. “This morning the pain shot down into my right leg and I lost my timing.”
Randolph’s caddy’s, Peter Hoffman of Oklahoma City, Okla., tried to keep Randolph thinking about golf.
“He just told me: ‘I don’t care how much it hurts, you just swing hard and play.’ ”
Randolph was even after his treatment following his second trip around the front nine, and he came back and birdied the 28th hole to go 1-up.
Persons, the No. 1 golfer on the University of Georgia team, evened the match on the 29th hole and took a 1-up lead by birdieing the 31st hole. Randolph came back with a birdie at No. 32 and it stayed that way until the 35th hole.
“I gave it my best shot,” Persons said. “I had a great time out there today. I’m proud of myself.”
Randolph held a 3-up lead late in the morning round, but Persons won three of the final four holes to trail by one hole heading to the second 18.
Persons, 23 and a fifth-year senior, earned his berth in the final, defeating Georgia teammate Chip Drury of Brunswick, Ga., 3-and-1.
Verplank, the first amateur in three decades to win a professional title, was ousted in the quarterfinal by Canada’s Kay, losing 1-down.