BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (July 31, 2008)--The Western Amateur, first held in 1899, opens play today at the Pointe O'Woods Golf and Country Club in Michigan for the final time as the prestigious tourney will leave its home for the past 38 years for a rotation of courses. The course originally held the event 1963 and became the exclusive host in 1971. It has been played as far away as Del Monte in Monterey, Los Angeles Country Club and as far east as Pinehurst. Traditionally featuring an international field of top-ranked amateur golfers in a grueling medal and match play format, past champions have included Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Lanny Wadkins and Justin Leonard.
Last year's champion was 17-year-old Jhared Hack, 2006 Western Junior champion, who edged Alex Prugh 1-up in a match where neither player ever held more than a 1-up lead.
Hack, of Sanford, Fla., follows in the footsteps of 2007 NCAA champion Jamie Lovemark to become only the second player to win the Western Junior and Western Amateur in back-to-back years since the Western Golf Association started the national junior championship in 1914. Lovemark, who withdrew from this year’s Western Amateur after one round due to injury, won the Western Junior in 2004 and Western Amateur in 2005.
“This whole week’s been a blur,” said Hack, who had to wait until Monday to win the rain-delayed championship final. “I didn’t have the best expectations coming in this week. For me to win is awesome. It’s the best feeling I’ve had so far in golf.”
Hack will not be back in the field this year, but there will be some top names such as NCAA Player-of-the-Year Rickie Fowler, Walker Cupper Kyle Stanley, amateurgolf.com - Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings national leader Zach Sucher, Texas leader Jonnathen Vegas and a host of others.