Williams beats Russell for Western Am title
By Ron Balicki, Golfweek
Chris Williams poses after winning the prestigious title.
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (Aug. 4, 2012) -- Last
year, at North Shore Country
Club in Glenview, Ill., just outside Chicago,
Chris Williams won the 72-
hole, stroke-play portion of the Western
Amateur with a record 16-
But that’s as far as his success would go.
He lost in the opening round
match play to then world No. 1 Patrick
Cantlay, 3 and 2.
This year, Williams, a senior at
Washington, again captured medalist
honors and in the process broke his own
tournament record with a 17-
under 271 score.
This time around, however, the 2011 U.S.
Walker Cup team member
on to take it all the way to the finish line.
In the rain-delayed championship match
Saturday afternoon, Williams,
first-team All-America and winner of this
year’s Washington State
Amateur, edged recent Texas A&M
graduate Jordan Russell, 1-up, to
capture the 110th Western Amateur at
Exmoor Country Club in this
Williams dominated the incoming nine
holes all week. During the 72-
stroke-play qualifying, he made 16 birdies
and was 14 under on the
nine for the week.
Williams waves to gallery on No.
In his first three matches, he won seven
holes with birdies on the
nine. And in the final, he overcame a 2-
down deficit at the turn by
four of the final nine holes.
“I’d have to say this is the biggest win of
my career,” Williams said.
is a great tournament and maybe the
toughest test in golf with the
it has. And to look at the list of all the
great players who have won this
and to know my name will now be among
them, it’s awesome.”
Russell grabbed a quick lead with a birdie
at No. 1 and went 2-up at
turn with a par at No. 9.
A birdie by Williams at No. 11 and a par at
No. 12 brought the match
square, and another par at No. 14 gave
Williams his first lead of the
After reaching with their approach shots --
Russell in the fairway and
Williams in the left rough -- at the par-4,
16th hole, play was stopped
(3:55 p.m., CST) as thunder, lightning and
rain hit the area.
After 102 minutes, they returned to the
course and Williams’ par putt
2-up with two holes to play.
But Russell was hardly throwing in the
towel. The 2011 U.S. Amateur
semifinalist birdied the 17th to keep the
match alive. At the par-4
hole, both players found the fairway off
Russell put his approach shot eight feet
above the hole, while Williams
finished some 25 feet left and above.
Williams first putt came up 2 1/2
feet short. Hoping to send the match to
extra holes, Russell’s put hit
cup and spun out.
After Williams conceded Russell’s par, he
not so calmly rolled in his putt
“I was shaking on that last putt,” Williams
said. “My heart was beating
mile a minute. I can’t explain the relief I
felt when it went in.”
After a long rain delay, Williams
secures the match on No. 17
It was pretty much how Williams felt the
“It was an intense match,” he said.
“Jordan is a great player and I
was going to be a battle and that I was
going to have to play very well
beat him. I was nervous all day. In a
tournament like this it’s hard to
your nerves in check.”
For Russell, from College Station, Texas, it
was yet another frustrating
finish this summer. He came close to
winning the Texas State Amateur,
only to finish T-5. A couple weeks later he
led the Northeast Amateur
each of the first three rounds, leading by
two shots going into the final
However, he made bogey at the 72nd
hole which created a playoff with
Justin Shin, who birdied the final hole. Shin
then won the three-hole,
And last month he was in the hunt after
three rounds at the Porter
but a closing 3-over 73 left him tied for
“It just wasn’t to be today, just like it’s
been pretty much all summer,”
Russell said. “But that’s golf. What can
you do? I just have to put it
behind me and move on.”
Still Russell said he couldn’t be too
disappointed in his Western
“Overall, I’m very pleased with the week,”
he said. “Of course I would
have liked to win, but I really can’t
complain. It was a good match and I
feel I really made him earn (the win). Chris
is a very good player and he
played great all week, especially
While enjoying the fulfillment of the
victory, Williams, who said he took
quick nap and watched some “pretty
exciting” Olympic table tennis on
during the weather break, also put things
“Week in and week out, every week is
someone’s week,” he said. “This
week just happened to be my week.
“I’ve had my struggles this summer,
pressing too hard and putting too
high expectations on myself,” Williams
said. “I’ve worked hard and
practiced a lot. Each week only one guy is
happy and fortunately this
week it’s me.
“Right now it’s hard to find the words to
describe how I feel. All the
all the loses, makes winning here that
much sweeter. It feels