VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. (July 6, 2008)-- Matt Savage’s first tournament outside of his home state of Kentucky was at Pinehurst’s Donald Ross Junior at the age of nine. Sunday, he lived the dream of getting his name on champion’s board at Pinehurst’s Clubhouse in winning the 108th Men’s North and South Amateur Championship on the 40th hole, as more than 200 spectators watched history unfold.
Savage defeated Southern Cal’s Jamie Lovemark by making a three-foot putt for birdie on Pinehurst No. 2’s fourth hole, after Lovemark punched out of the right greenside bunker and missed his own four-foot birdie attempt. It would be one of several missed putts by Lovemark in the afternoon’s play, in one of the most thrilling Men’s North and South contests in modern history.
Lovemark came from behind several times in today’s match fighting off a 3-up Savage lead on the 12th and 13th holes this Sunday morning with back-to-back birdies to go 1-down. It was followed by bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes to send the match to 3-up Savage at the end of the first 18.
Following the break, Lovemark quickly fired a birdie on the 19th hole to cut the lead to two, but lost momentum by missing crucial putts on the next two holes to send the lead back to four holes.
Savage would miss putts at the 22nd and 23rd holes with bogeys on the fourth and fifth on Pinehurst No. 2, followed by a costly double bogey to Lovemark’s par on the 25th hole to send the match to all-square.
Savage regained the lead on the match’s 33rd hole with a 15-foot birdie on the par-3 15th on No. 2. He retained the lead until the 36th hole, where Lovemark hit his second shot to within six feet of the hole on No. 2’s 18th with a clutch birdie that rimmed the cup before dropping, evening the match once again.
Lovemark missed a three-foot putt on the 37th, made a long 15-foot shot on the 38th to stay in the game, and then missed another birdie attempt on the 39th after hitting it out of the right greenside bunker to within nine feet of the hole.
Lovemark would hit the find greenside bunker again on the 40th hole, punched out to within four feet of the hole, but missed his birdie opportunity.
Savage’s second shot on the par-5 fourth of No. 2 was more than 30 yards from the hole, but a long eagle attempt would position him three feet away for birdie, forcing Lovemark to concede the match on the 40th hole.
“I’ve felt comfortable on No. 2 the entire week,” said Savage after the match. “I feel like you have to use a little more imagination than most courses, especially around the greens with different shots. I feel like I grew up a lot this week, and far more comfortable with match play.”
Savage, a rising senior at Florida State University, was the 78th-ranked amateur in world rankings prior to today’s win. He plans to enter qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship at Innisbrook in Florida at the end of the month to return to Pinehurst later this summer. Lovemark is exempt from U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying as a member of the 2007 Walker Cup team.
This week’s win adds Savages’ name to the bronze plaque’s at Pinehurst’s Heritage Hall along with such famed North & South champions as Francis Ouimet, Walter Travis, Jack Nicklaus and Curtis Strange, among others.
Pinehurst continues its North and South tradition with the 106th running of the Women’s North and South Amateur Championship, July 13-20, 2008.