BY ALEX PODLOGAR
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – When Pat Thompson missed qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur, his entire outlook on the game of golf changed.
For the better.
“I was very disappointed after that, especially because I had been playing so well leading up to it,” Thompson said his qualifying effort. “But I decided right then and there that I’d play golf to have fun, and whether I won a tournament or finished 16th, I’d just go out and enjoy it.”
He’s enjoying it now. And winning.
Thompson, of Asheville, birdied three of the last four holes to come in at 5-under 209 to win the 62nd Senior Men’s North & South Amateur at Pinehurst Resort on Thursday, clipping 36-hole leader Emile Vaughan by two shots.
“This is huge,” Thompson said of winning at Pinehurst, where his name will be emblazoned on the Perpetual Wall with the past winners of the historic amateur championship. “I’ve vacationed here and I’ve played other tournaments here, and I’d always look at all the awards. I’d daydream of being one of the guys who had won the North & South. It’s a dream come true.”
Thompson’s new even keel approach to the game suffered a serious test on the 14th hole of Pinehurst No. 5 in his final round. Facing a 14-inch putt to close out a simple par on the 511-yard par-5, a loud noise at a nearby home distracted Thompson in the middle of his stroke, forcing him to miss the easy putt. At the time, Thompson was tied for the lead with Vaughan with just four holes to play.
“I flinched, and all of a sudden I was one down,” Thompson said. “I could’ve kicked it in with my shoe.” Crediting his improved demeanor, however, Thompson rallied, making a birdie on top of Vaughan’s on 15 before catching a share of the lead again with another birdie on 17. Vaughan went on to bogey the 18th while Thompson made another birdie to claim the championship.
“It’s just amazing to win here,” Thompson said, clutching Pinehurst’s iconic Putter Boy trophy. Ashley Rose continued her brilliant 2013 season by claiming the 56th Senior Women’s North & South Amateur, firing a 73 on Pinehurst No. 1 for a three-round total of 221 to edge Mary Jane Hiestand by one shot.
“This one is very special,” said Rose, of North Augusta, S.C. “This is a prestigious tournament, and it’s one I was really looking forward to playing well in.”It is Rose’s fourth win this season, which includes victories at the Dixie Amateur, the Jones/Doherty
Championship and the Carolinas Senior Amateur.But it took work. Rose and Hiestand were tired heading to the par-5 18th. After a 231-yard drive, Rose hit a 5 wood just in front of the green before pitching to 5 feet. Hiestand missed her birdie attempt from 12 feet, leaving Rose with a look at a winning putt.
“I had a putt to win, and I made it to win,” said Rose. “This is a really big deal to me,” Rose added about winning. “To go up on that wall with the people who came before me is pretty humbling.”
Pinehurst member and two-time Senior Women’s North & South Amateur Champion Patty Moore successfully defended her Super Senior North & South championship of a year ago with a three-day total of 224 to slip by Taffy Brower by one shot.
Bruce Scamehorn, of Winter Faven, Fla., completed his dominance of the Super Senior Men’s North & South Amateur after a brilliant 6-under 208 total to win by a staggering nine strokes.