BENTON HARBOR MI. (July 30, 2007)-- The 2007 Western Amateur field again will feature many of the world’s greatest amateur golfers, including 12 returning Western Amateur Sweet 16 match play qualifiers. Also, 13 NCAA All-Americans in 2007 – four first-team, four second-team and five third-team – are set to compete in the championship, to be held July 30-August 5 at Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich.
“We have one of the best fields in recent years committed to play in our 105th Western Amateur,” noted John Kaczkowski, Western Golf Association tournament director. “Jamie Lovemark, our 2005 champion, heads a list of top-ranked national and international players who will be providing a very competitive week of golf at Point O’Woods.”
Lovemark, of Rancho Sante Fe, California, a first-team All-American from the University of Southern California, won the 2007 NCAA Championship. In 2005, he became the youngest player to ever win the Western Amateur; he also advanced to the Sweet 16 match play in 2006. Earlier this month, Lovemark finished in a tie for 45th at the AT&T National, a PGA Tour event, and in June he placed second in the Rochester Area Charities Showdown on the Nationwide Tour, losing on the second playoff hole to Chris Riley, who was the 1994 Western Amateur runner up to Tiger Woods.
Among those expected to challenge Lovemark are six players who are in the top 10 of the current Golfweek Men’s Amateur rankings. The list is headed by Dustin Johnson, of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, who is ranked No. 3. He was a 2006 and 2007 first-team All-American at Coastal Carolina and advanced to the quarterfinals in match play at the 2006 Western Amateur. This summer he has posted wins at the Northeast Amateur and Monroe Invitational.
Ranked fourth is Billy Horschel of Grant, Florida, a first-team All-American at the University of Florida. He played in the 2006 U.S. Open and missed the cut by just two strokes. Playing in his second Western Amateur, he advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2006.
At fifth in the rankings is Rickie Fowler, of Murrietta, California, who will be a freshman at Oklahoma State University. He won the 2007 Sunnehanna Amateur, the 2005 Western Junior and advanced to the quarterfinals in match play of the 2006 US Amateur. He is playing in his first Western Amateur.
At No. 6 is Kyle Stanley, of Gig Harbor, Wash. He finished second in the 2007 NCAA Championship, two strokes behind Lovemark, and won the 2006 Sahalee Players championship. He is a first-team All-American from Clemson University and will be playing in his first Western Amateur.
Michael Thompson, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is at No. 7 in the Golfweek rankings. A senior at the University of Alabama, he tied for fourth in the 2007 NCAA Championship and was named 2007 second team All-American and first team All-SEC. He won the 2007 Greystone Invitational.
The final player among the top 10 in the rankings is Colt Knost, at No. 8. He is a 2007 graduate, of Southern Methodist University, where he was a third team All-American in 2007. He won the 2007 U.S. Public Links in July. Knost also qualified for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and became the first amateur since 1993 to make the cut following a second round of 64.
As the 105th Western Amateur unfolds, the Point O’Woods members and staff again will play key roles in hosting the championship.
“We could not possibly conduct a championship of this quality and reputation without the support and hard work demonstrated annually by everyone we work with at Point O’Woods,” said Kaczkowski. “The members and staff roll out a red carpet of welcome that is unsurpassed in amateur golf. Tiger Woods once called the Western Amateur at Point O’Woods ‘the Masters of amateur golf,’ and I think most of the players who have experienced the Point’s hospitality would agree.”
The Western Amateur has been a prestigious national tournament since it was first held in 1899 at the Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois. The championship has been anchored at Point O’Woods, a Robert Trent Jones design that has consistently has ranked among the nation’s top golf courses, since 1971.
In recent history, with Point O’Woods as the host club, The Western Amateur has produced many notable champions, such as Phil Mickelson (1991), Justin Leonard (1992-93), Tiger Woods (1994) and Ryan Moore (2004). Woods’ victory in the Western Amateur was his first major win in amateur competition, coming just three weeks before he claimed the 1994 U.S. Amateur title.
Many of the great names in American golf also won Western Amateur titles early in their careers, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Hal Sutton. Many more of golf’s top names competed for the championship but were unable to win the grueling marathon.
The Western Golf Association’s very own Charles “Chick” Evans Jr., founder of the Evans Scholars Foundation and one of the great amateur golfers of all time, won his first Western Amateur in 1909 then repeated in 1912, 1914, 1915, 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923. Evans, Nicklaus and Woods are the only three golfers to have won the Western Amateur, Western Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open.