GOLF NOTEBOOK / MARTIN BECK : Tiger Right at Home at Point O’Woods
The list of champions for the 92-year-old Western Amateur is a who’s who of golf. Charles (Chick) Evans Jr., the 1916 U.S. Open champion and two-time U.S. Amateur champion, won eight Western titles. Bobby Jones, who won four U.S. Opens and five U.S. Amateurs, never won the Western, although he was stroke-play medalist in 1920.
More recent Western winners have been Jack Nicklaus (1961), Tom Weiskopf ('63), Andy North ('71), Ben Crenshaw ('73), Curtis Strange ('74), Hal Sutton ('79, ’80) and Phil Mickelson ('91).
Tiger Woods joined the list Sunday at Point O’Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. Woods, 18, of Cypress, was the youngest winner since Bob Clampett won in 1978 when he was about four months younger than Woods. Clampett is believed to be the youngest champion in the modern era.
Woods has been on a tear lately. Last month, he won the Pacific Northwest and Southern California amateurs and then finished eighth in the rain-shortened Porter Cup, three shots behind the winner.
There were four first-team NCAA All-Americans among 16 who made the match-play portion of the Western Amateur. Woods beat one, Chris Riley of Nevada Las Vegas, 2 and 1, in the final. His victory over another, Chris Tidland of Oklahoma State, in the quarterfinals was more dramatic.
Tidland, who won the 1989 Southern Section individual title while playing for Valencia High, trailed Woods by four holes with six to play Saturday.
Tidland finished with six consecutive birdies to even the match after 18 holes.
“I shot 33 on the backside and still got killed,” Woods said Tuesday. “That doesn’t happen that often.”
On the 19th hole, Woods made a 35-foot putt for par to save the match. He then made an 18-foot eagle putt on the 20th hole for the victory.
“It was probably one of the greatest matches of all time in our tournament or any tournament,” said Gary Holaway, director of communications for the Western Golf Assn. “For someone to birdie the last six holes and still not win is incredible.”
Since Nicklaus did it in 1961, four others have won the Western and U.S. amateurs in the same year. On Monday, Woods qualified for this year’s U.S. Amateur at Western Hills Golf and Country Club.
Woods finally made it home from the amateur tournament at 1 a.m. Monday morning and fell asleep at 2:30. He had to wake up at 5:30 to make an 8 a.m. tee time.
He shot seven-under 65 in the morning and then 73 in the afternoon, his ninth and 10th rounds of golf in six days.
“I was dead,” Woods said. “I had no energy left. I went around in the afternoon and tried to hang in there. I didn’t really concentrate. I couldn’t.”
Woods easily qualified for the U.S. Amateur, which is Aug. 22-28 at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Fullerton’s Terry Noe also had some grueling travel arrangements after winning the U.S. Junior Amateur July 30 in Westfield, N.J. Noe’s flight to Los Angeles International arrived at 1 a.m. and after a brief return home for clean clothes and some sleep, he was back at LAX for an early-morning flight to Mexico City for the Junior Americas Cup.
Noe was part of the Southern California team that finished fourth in the competition. Noe shot two-under 70 on the first day, one shot behind the leader, but grew weary and struggled with a 76 and 78 in the next two rounds.
“I got tired,” Noe said. “It felt like I couldn’t even swing at times.”