Tyler Strafaci (Pinehurst photo)
(David, Fla.) won the 120th North & South Amateur on Saturday, holding off William Holcomb V
(Crockett, Texas) 3&1 at famed Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C.
With the win, the former Georgia Tech player made an unusual bit of history -- he joined his grandfather Frank Strafaci as North & South champions.
"I first came to Pinehurst when I was a little kid, and mom and dad and would always tell me what my grandfather thought of Pinehurst," said Strafaci to Alex Podlogar of Pinehurst after being presented with the Putter Boy trophy. "The first thing we would do, my dad would walk me into the locker room and we’d find Grandpa’s locker. We’d sit in there and look at all of the names. I never thought that this day would ever come."
Frank Strafaci won the North & South Amateur in 1938 and 1939, and was a USGA champion, winning the 1935 U.S. Public Links Championship. He was a force in northeast amateur golf, winning the Metropolitan Amateur seven times and the Long Island Amateur five times. After his playing days he became the Executive Director of the Florida State Golf Association.
For the Strafaci family, playing the North & South Amateur has been a long-standing tradition.
"My grandfather played throughout the ’30s and my dad played all of the way up into the 2000s," said Strafaci. "It’s been about 90 years for us playing this tournament."
Strafaci has been trying to add his name to his grandfather's on the Perpetual Wall at Pinehurst for five years. His best previous run was to the quarterfinals in 2017.
The quality of golf was high, with Strafaci going out in the equivalent of two under par to Holcomb's one under. After both players surprisingly bogeyed the par-5 10th, Holcomb birdied the par-4 11th with a chip-in to square the match. But the 13th and 14th holes would prove pivotal, with an untimely double by Holcomb giving Strafaci the lead, and a subsequent Strafaci birdie doubling the margin to two holes with four to go.
Strafaci never gave Holcomb an opening, seeing him off with a short birdie putt at the 17th.
In the morning, Strafaci overcame a two-down deficit to outlast Jonathan Yaun
(Minneola, Fla.) of Liberty University. Strafaci won four holes in a seven-hole stretch to turn the match.
Holcomb made quick work of Trey Winstead
(Baton Rouge, La.) of LSU, going the equivalent of one under par through 14 holes in a 5&4 semifinal win. For Holcomb, it was a continuation of excellent play at Pinehurst No. 2, having made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur last year and compiling an 8-2 match play record.
The other subplot of this year's tournament involved the USGA's decision to exempt the winner and runner-up into next month's U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes. Both Strafaci (WAGR 106) and Holcomb (WAGR 131) were safely into the championship field, but Yaun (WAGR 468) just missed out, needing to win his morning match to receive the exemption.
Related: USGA to exempt winners, runners-up of 4 AM majors into the US AM
For Yaun and all others outside the top 225 (who didn't make match play at the U.S. Am last year, they will have three more chances to make it to Bandon Dunes: at the Southern, Sunnehanna and Western Amateurs.
ABOUT THE North & South Amateur
The North & South Amateur Championship is the
longest consecutively run amateur tournament in
United States. Its past winners list includes names
Travis, Francis Ouimet, Billy Joe Patton, Jack
and Curtis Strange. The field is made up of invited
players as well as open applications. Two rounds of
play are followed by five rounds of match play
qualifiers) to determine the Champion. All stroke
& match play rounds are contested on
Pinehurst No. 2.
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