Cameron Beck (Eastern Amateur via Twitter)
delivered a message Sunday afternoon. That despite the prominence of college-age players in high-level amateur tournaments, there is still a place for the mid-amateur who fits their passion for golf around real-life responsibilities.
The 30-year old Beck reinforced his message with a winning performance at the 64th Eastern Amateur. He closed with a 3-under par 67 to complete 72 holes at Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club in Portsmouth, Va. in 10-under par 270.
Beck played professionally after earning All-America honors twice at Wake Forest and regained his amateur status in 2018 after his professional ambitions were thwarted by back issues. He said Sunday’s win was perhaps the biggest of his amateur career.
“I won the Virginia State Open when I was 19-years old (in 2010),” he said. “I think this one’s bigger as far as strength of field and diversity of field.”
(Harrisburg, N.C.) came up one shot short after closing with a 69 that left him at 9-under par 271.
Beck and Heffner, who recently finished his sophomore year at Davidson, were the only players to shoot four rounds under par.
When play began on Sunday, the stage was set for a shootout. Heffner, Kinder, and Hanson all shared the lead at 8-under par 202 with Beck a stroke behind the trio.
With his father Gary on his bag Beck, who resides in Virginia Beach, about a half hour from the tournament site, played a relaxed opening nine, making the turn in 2-under par 33. By that point, he had the lead to himself.
He then birdied the 10th and 12th, both par fours, to move to 11 under par for the tournament.
Beck felt the key to his round, over a course that played to just 6,648 yards, was keeping his tee shot in play.
“The rough was pretty high,” he said. “So, for me it was kind of important to keep it in front of me and have a lot of short irons into greens and a lot of birdie looks.
“And just kind of pick your spots when you were in the rough because the lies were very juicy. You could hit (some shots) 30 yards longer than you want to.”
Beck’s only bogey of the day came at the par-4 14th; it was his first bogey since bogeying the same hole on Saturday.
Beck’s biggest challenge came at the 230-yard par-3 16th, his first hole following a 70-minute weather delay. He was ready to tee off, the last in his group to do so, when the horn blew. Following the delay, Beck hit a five iron to the right edge of the green.
“I had to putt almost through the fringe,” he said, “and had a big breaker. I hit it a little too hard and the greens out here are fast. I ran that probably 10 feet by and made the 10-footer coming back for par. That was big to just keep the momentum.”
Heffner, who played for an Atlantic 10-championship team as a sophomore at Davidson this past spring, had a chance to catch Beck down the stretch. He missed a birdie putt at the par-4 17th before his second shot to the par-5 home hole wound up on the right fringe. His 50-foot eagle putt, that would have tied him with Beck, caught the edge of the hole; he drained a four-foot birdie putt to finish second alone, leaving Beck to celebrate his victory.
Beck has known success on the golf course in 2021. He reached the semifinals of the Virginia Amateur week, but golf occupies a different place in his life than it did a decade ago.
He said he proved something to himself with his win at the Eastern. “That I don’t have to grind and practice as much and am still able to compete a little bit with these younger guys that are doing it every day,” he said. “I don’t know if I speak for all mid-amateurs or just myself but having experience of playing in these amateur tournaments when I was in college and (playing professionally) and getting all that experience, that helps a lot.”
ABOUT THE Eastern Amateur
The Eastern Amateur is a 72 hole stroke play
event that perennially attracts a top-drawer field.
The tournament has been
played -- with the exception of 1977 and 1999 -- at
Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club. Elizabeth
Manor is a par 70 Dick Wilson design in Portsmouth,
The impressive list of winners includes U.S. Open
winners Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Andy Bean,
Hubert Green, Jim Furyk and Steve Jones. Other
notables who have played in the Eastern Amateur
are Lanny Wadkins, Arron Oberholser, Steve Marino,
Scott Hoch, Clarence Rose, Gary Koch, Bob Tway,
John Rollins, Fred Funk, Carl Petterson, Chip Beck,
Jim Simons, Ben Crenshaw, Steve Melnyk, Andy
Bean and Steve Liebler. Liebler won the who the
Eastern in three different decades and is the only
golfer to have ever qualified for the USGA Junior,
USGA Amateur, USGA Open, USGA Public Links,
USGA Senior Open and USGA Senior Amateur as
as representing his state in the USGA Team
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