2015 South Carolina Match Play winner,
20-year-old Andrew Novak (CGA photo)
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — Andrew Novak, 20, of Mount Pleasant defeated Jonathan Hardee, 19, of Greer by a 3 and 2 score to win the 43rd South Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship. Novak, a junior at Wofford College, becomes the fourth person to hold the CGA South Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship and SCGA South Carolina Amateur Championship titles at the same time (Jim Holmes (1977); Todd White (1990 SC Am-1991 SC Match Play); Bert Atkinson (1995); Andrew Novak (2014 SC Am-2015 SC Match)).
Novak jumped out to a 1 up lead after a bogey by Hardee on the first hole. Holes 2 and 3 were halved with pars. Hardee, a sophomore at the University of Alabama rolled in a 28-foot birdie from the fringe to win the par three fourth hole to square the match. Fifth hole was halved with par fours. Hardee canned a roller-coaster 35-foot birdie putt to take a 1 up lead on the 450-yard par four sixth hole. Holes 7 and 8 were halved with pars. On the par three ninth hole, Hardee's tee shot went into the water hazard leading to a double-bogey five and squaring the match.
Novak then took control on the back nine. With Hardee over the green in two, Novak drove the par five 10th hole in two leading to a two-putt birdie to take a 1 up lead. Holes 11, 12 and 13 were halved with pars.
The drivable par 4 14th hole proved to be the pivotal point in the match. Both players took aim at driving the 288-yard par four hole. Hardee's tee shot landed in the deep left greenside bunker. Novak's drive stopped on the back edge of the putting green leaving a 30-foot eagle putt. Hardee bladed his bunker shot over the green and was unable to scramble for par thus conceding a birdie putt to Novak for a 2 up lead.
On the par four 15th hole, Novak hit his approach shot to 12 feet. Hardee's approach shot was hit short and right into the water hazard that led to a bogey five. Novak missed his birdie attempt but was conceded his par to take a 3 up lead. The par four 16th hole, both players had decent looks for birdie. Novak putted first and missed just below the hole. Hardee was then left with a 20-foot birdie attempt to extend the match. His putt slid by the hole thus sealing the title for Novak.
Novak never played more than 16 holes in any match. "I just tried to hit fairways and greens to put the pressure on my opponents," Novak said of his key to winning this week.