Dawson Armstrong eagles second playoff hole to win Western Amateur
08 Aug 2015
by Conner Penfold of

see also: View results for Western Amateur, Moraine Country Club, Dawson Armstrong Rankings

2015 Western Am champ Dawson Armstrong (WGA photo)
2015 Western Am champ Dawson Armstrong (WGA photo)

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. — Dawson Armstrong and Aaron Wise were back-and-forth all afternoon at Rich Harvest Farms, much like a tennis match. Though, this was the 113th playing of the Western Amateur, and the championship match, no less. No player ever held more than a 1-up lead during the 20 holes played in the Illinois summer heat, with 12 of the 18 regulation holes being won by either player.

But it was Armstrong, the Lipscomb University sophomore from Brentwood, Tenn., who had two of the most crucial victories. He entered the final hole, a par-5, one-down to Wise. So he did exactly what he needed to do and cashed in on his birdie opportunity to force the match to extra holes.

Wise, who Armstrong noted out-drove him with his 3-wood off the 18th tee, knocked it right over the pin to the back of green. Armstrong flared his approach, ending up about ten yards right but elected to putt his eagle try from off the green. Armstrong thought he had made the long attempt, though it came up a few feet short and he tapped in for an easy birdie. Wise, on the other hand, left his long putt from the back of the green about 10 feet above the hole, eventually missing the remaining putt to send the match to a playoff.

And after matching pars at the first, Armstrong joined names like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Phil Mickelson as winners of the Western Amateur by making eagle — a bunker-hole out — on the par-5 second hole to defeat Wise.

"I don't really remember the reaction from the crowd. I just remember the reaction from me," Armstrong admitted when asked about the sizable crowd following the championship match. "But looking over at the crowd and seeing them cheering, it was really surreal to see all that."

Armstrong found himself yelling from inside the bunker, short and right of the second green. The reaction is, of course, natural considering the extent of his win. The tournament is arguably the most difficult amateur championship to win, rivaling the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur.

The victory is Armstrong's second of the summer, having already been victorious at the Dogwood Invitational early in July at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta. Had Wise won, it would have been his second win of the summer, as well, having just flown into Chicago from Eugene, Ore. where he won the Pacific Coast Amateur.

"Oh man. I don't know yet. It's hit me that I did so well, but it hasn't hit me that it's over," Armstrong said. "Part of me thinks I'm going to drive out there, a solid 20-minute drive, and warm up and tee off again."

Again, an understandable thought. The two finalists finished up their eighth competitive round at Rich Harvest Farms in a five-day span. But Armstrong seemed eager to get back out there, as he had glowing things to say about this year's host course.

"That track is perfect," he said. "It is, in my opinion, the perfect combination of a 'big hitters' course and an 'accuracy' course. It requires you to focus on every shot. Nothing is given to you."

For Wise, likely a disappointing finish. But the All Pac-12 Second Team honoree had a spectacular summer to follow up his freshman season, sparked by a second-place finish at the Pac-12 Championship. He placed seventh at the Sahalee Players Championship early in July before his breakout win at Eugene Country Club last week.

In Saturday morning's semifinal matchup, Armstrong had his hands full against tournament medalist and No. 1 seed Robby Shelton.

After going back and fourth during the first 11 holes, Armstrong strung together three straight birdies to take a 3-up lead into the final four holes. Shelton would get one back with a birdie at 15, but Armstrong closed out the University of Alabama sophomore 2-and-1 to advance to the championship match of the 113th Western Amateur.

Wise handed fellow Californian Jake Knapp of UCLA a 4-and-2 defeat in his semifinal match, and never trailed throughout the day. Wise built a 5-up lead through eight holes thanks to five front-nine birdies.

FRIDAY'S RECAP: Shelton, Armstrong, Knapp, Wise head to Western Amateur final four

Results: Western Amateur
WinTNDawson ArmstrongBrentwood, TN150067-66-74-74=281
Runner-upCAAaron WiseLake Elsinore, CA120076-64-71-70=281
SemifinalsCAJake KnappCosta Mesa, CA90071-70-72-70=283
SemifinalsALRobby SheltonWilmer, AL90071-68-71-67=277
QuarterfinalsNYGavin HallPittsford, NY70070-73-70-66=279

View full results for Western Amateur

ABOUT THE Western Amateur

Invitational event, and the most important tournament in American amateur golf outside of the U.S. Amateur. With a grueling schedule, it's quite possibly the hardest amateur tournament to win.

156 invited players come from across the globe to play one of the toughest formats in amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18 holes of stroke play on Tuesday and Wednesday after which the field is cut to the low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches each day if you're going to the finals) to decide the champion.

View Complete Tournament Information

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