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PREVIEW and LIVE SCORING: Dixie Amateurs get underway on today
14 Dec 2021
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Dixie Amateur 2022 Men's Invitational, Eagle Trace Golf Club

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One of the oldest amateur events in the United States, the Dixie Amateur reconvenes on Thursday in Florida, with the men’s tournament at Eagle Trace Golf Club in Coral Springs while the women will be competing at the Palm Aire Country Club on the west coast in Sarasota. Both tournaments will be contested over 72 holes of stroke play with a cut after 54 holes.

The Dixie annually attracts an international field of top amateurs looking to add their names to a list of past champions that includes PGA and LPGA Tour stars, major championship winners along with Ryder and Solheim Cup heroes.

A look at the fields

A total of 14 countries will be represented in a strong and deep international field from over 30 golf federations from around the world. Both fields are also chock-full of top collegians on their winter break.

Some notable players on the men’s side include Dawson Anders (Telford, Pa.), the 2020 Delaware Amateur champion; Charles Fitzsimmons (London, Canada), the reigning Canadian Mid-Amateur champion; Thomas Hogan (St. Simons Island, Ga., a junior at Western Kentucky who won the 2021 Golden Isles Amateur; David Lang (Toronto, Canada), who reached the final 16 in the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur; and Jose Vega (Doral, Fla.), who has third places in both the Latin America Amateur and Argentine Stroke Play Amateurs.

The women’s field ranges from a trio of rising stars in 15-year-olds in Emerson Blair (West Point, Miss.), who won her second consecutive College Tour X championship last month at Old Waverly; Gianna Clemente (Warren, Ohio); ranked 13th by the American Junior Golf Association; Madison “Mad Dog” Moman (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), who took down Brooks Koepka in a skills competition as a 10-year-old; and 16-year-old Kylee Choi (Murrietta, Calif.), recent runner up at the San Francisco City Championship and currently 29th in the AJGA rankings; to top collegians such as Clemson’s Melena Barrientos (Plano, Texas) and Anabelle Pancake (Zionsville, Ind.), Washington’s Camille Boyd (Yorba Linda, Calif.); Stanford’s Sadie Englemann (Austin, Texas); and mid-amateur veterans Jamie Freedman (Aventura, Fla.) and Heather Wall (Sunrise, Fla.).


The Venues: Eagle Trace Golf Club and Palm Aire Country Club

Eagle Trace Golf Club is a proud member of the ClubLink family of outstanding golf clubs. Opened in 1983 as the first member-based club in the PGA TOUR’s Tournament Players Club network, Eagle Trace Golf Club is an Arthur Hills design that hosted the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic nine times. The layout has some unique characteristics for a Florida golf course, including an island green, three greens surrounded by wooden bulkheads, and it doesn’t have a single palm tree on the property - a rarity in southern Florida

Palm Aire Country Club has a rich history dating back to 1959 when The Palms Golf Course was founded by George Palmer and Harold Broiler, and a 50-room lodge opened in 1962. Sam Snead set a course record 65 in that year and, since then, Palm Aire has hosted the prestigious Dixie Amateur, the Florida Open, and the South Florida Classic, a former Tour event, on multiple occasions.

Palm Aire’s owners added a grand hotel and spa in 1971 followed by the construction of the Oaks course in 1971 and the Cypress course in 1972. Movie stars such as Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jerry Lewis would come to stay and play at the renowned hotel and golf courses.

2020 Dixie Amateur produced thrilling finishes

Larry Blatt and Brigette Thibault of Canada, rallied for victories at last year’s Dixie Amateurs, as Blatt fired a final round 67 to come from three shots back while Thibault erased an eight-stroke deficit to claim the title over Taylor Roberts.

Blatt, a 33-year-old from Chicago, Ill., carded nine birdies, including five in a row in the middle of his round, to pull ahead of third-round leader Luke Wells (Springfield, Ohio) and finish off a two-shot victory at 5-under-par 283.

Thibault, then a senior at Fresno State, opened her final round with a bogey and double bogey to fall eight strokes off the lead but rallied with seven birdies coming home to edge Ellen Hume by two strokes for the championship.

Past champions

The list of past champions of the Dixie Amateur is dotted with PGA and LPGA Tour stars, major champions, Ryder and Solheim Cup team members and a long list of distinguished amateur players.

Future Masters champion Doug Ford claimed the title in 1946, becoming the first of three major champions to win the Dixie, along with Lanny Wadkins (1971) and Hal Sutton (1978-79). Both would later go onto captain Ryder Cup teams.

Other Dixie champions to win on the PGA TOUR include Frank Stranahan (1950), Andy Bean (1975), Len Mattice (1984; '89), Jesper Parnevik (1986), Nolan Henke (1987), Ryuji Imada (1989), Brandt Snedeker (2003), David Lingmerth (2007) and Daniel Berger (2012).

The late Bruce Fleischer, who won just once on the PGA TOUR but claimed 18 titles on PGA TOUR Champions, won the Dixie in 1969.

Along with Wadkins, Sutton and Fleischer, former U.S. Amateur champions Colt Knost (2005) and Peter Uihlein (2009-10) also have wins at the Dixie.

Of the Dixie's long and distinguished list of past champions, perhaps none is more intriguing than Tommy Goodwin, who claimed titles in 1932 and '33.


Tommy Goodwin (USGA photo)
The son of an Olympic swimmer, Goodwin won four New York State Amateur championships in his illustrious amateur career. Blessed with dashing good looks, long hair that stretched past the nape of his neck and a cool, breezy manner, Goodwin was a cross between Walter Hagen, Fred Couples and Rickie Fowler.

Goodwin's first win at the Dixie in 1932 is an interesting sidenote in the tournament's long history. His scheduled opponent in the 1932 final was Philip Perkins, but the 1928 British Amateur champion didn't make it to the first tee for the championship match after getting shot in the thigh at a nightclub in the early hours of the morning prior to the match.

While Goodwin never lived up to becoming the next Bobby Jones, his reputation and persona off the course made him a regular in the society pages of various newspapers.

An avid fisherman, he once caught a 550-pound shark he caught off the Florida coast, was a featured soloist at nightclubs in South Florida, and worked as a stand-in to actor Errol Flynn in several films in the 1930s. Later in life, he ran with the likes of Clark Gable and Sean Connery.

While the women's Dixie has a much shorter history, Angela Park, the LPGA's Rookie of the Year in 2007, claimed two titles during her decorated junior career in 2003 and '05. Vicky Hurst, a member of the 2011 Solheim Cup team, raised the Dixie trophy in 2006, while LPGA superstar Lexi Thompson won the Dixie the following year as a 12-year-old.

Four years later in 2011, Lexi's brother Curtis, won his first of two Dixie Amateur titles.

The History

The Dixie Amateur was first played at the old Miami Country Club in 1924. The Dixie Amateur is rich in history and tradition attracting many of the best amateur golfers from the United States and International players invited from over 30 golf federations around the world. Titleist/GolfWeek awards points towards National Rankings in all divisions. The Dixie Amateur originated in 1924 and was played at the old Miami Country Club. Florida has always been a golf destination and the tournament always attracts a strong field of talented amateur players.

Early winners of the Dixie Amateur included: Frank Strafaci, Earl Christianson, Frank Perpich, Al Besselink, Bill Hyndman III and future Masters Champion Doug Ford. With the closing of the Miami Golf Club in 1953 the Dixie was discontinued until 1962.

The Dixie Amateur has been played continuously since 1962 at various courses in South Florida including The Links at Key Biscayne and the Golf Club of Miami. During this time the tournament really began to attract the very best players in the United States and several players won before graduating to the PGA Tour. Champions include Andy Bean, Bruce Fleisher, Lanny Wadkins, Nolan Henke, Len Mattice and Jesper Parnevik.

In 1990 the Dixie Amateur was moved to the Bonaventure Resort. During this time period, the tournament was moved to December and held during the Christmas break. This move allowed a greater number of collegiate golfers to participate and the strength of our field grew substantially.

In 1997 a senior division was created for players 55 years and older. This increased exposure and attracted an even stronger field of senior golfers. Steve Earsley of Stuart, Florida won the inaugural event and repeated as Champion in 1998.

In 2002, the women's division was added and has consistently attracted the finest female amateurs in the world. The inaugural women's champion, Meaghan Francella, narrowly defeated Paula Creamer, now an LPGA superstar. The 2007 women's champion, Lexi Thompson, became the youngest winner of an LPGA tournament in 2011 at the age of 16.

The 2009 Dixie Amateur saw the addition of the first Senior Women’s Dixie Amateur Championship.

In 2011, ClubLink acquired the Dixie Amateur and put renewed emphasis on providing the best possible experience for all contestants. The women's, senior women's, and senior men's divisions are now played at two ClubLink properties: Palm Aire Country Club and Eagle Trace Golf Club.

In 2019 the Mid-Master Division was created for participants between the ages of 40 to 54 to compete with players of the same age and skill level.

Past Champions

Men's Division
2020 Larry Blatt
2019 Michael Barnard
2018 Jonathan Keppler
2017 Luke Gifford
2016 Davey Jude
2015 Hannes Ronneblad
2014 Brandon Matthews
2013 Curtis Thompson
2012 Daniel Berger
2011 Curtis Thompson
2010 Peter Uihlein
2009 Peter Uihlein
2008 Gavin Dear
2007 David Lingmerth
2006 Mu Hu
2005 Colt Knost
2004 Jon McLean
2003 Brandt Snedeker
2002 Derek Lamely
2001 Jay Reynolds
2000 Erik Compton
1999 Hunter Haas
1998 Travis Perkins
1997 G.W. Cable
1996 Jeremy Wilkenson
1995 Ryuji Imada
1994 Dennis Hillman
1993 Jason Downey
1992 Rick Woulfe
1991 Charles Stevens
1990 Michael Sposa
1990 Charles Stevens
1989 Len Mattiace
1988 Greg Starkman
1987 Nolan Henke
1986 Jesper Parnevik
1985 Louis Brown
1984 Len Mattiace
1983 Steve Greek
1982 Bill Wrobbel
1981 Bill Tuten
1980 Tim Norris
1979 Hal Sutton
1978 Hal Sutton
1977 Joe Walter
1976 Buddy Gardner
1975 Andy Bean
1974 Denny Sullivan
1973 Bill Hyndman, III
1972 Chas. Krenkel
1971 Lanny Wadkins
1970 John Birmingham
1969 Bruce Fleisher
1968 Bill Hyndman, III
1967 Wes Smith, Jr.
1966 Bill Harvey
1965 Bill Hyndman, III
1964 Dave Smith
1963 Harvey Breauz
1962 Paul Desjardins
1953 George Victor
1952 Dub Pagan
1951 Bill Stembler
1950 Frank Stranahan
1949 Al Besselink
1948 Frank Perpich
1947 Bob Servis
1946 Doug Ford
1945 B.B. Lotspeich
1944 Arnold Minckley
1943 Earl Christianson
1942 Earl Christianson
1941 Frank Strafaci
1940 Frank Strafaci
1939 Bill Holt
1938 Earl Christianson
1937 Frank Allan
1936 Arthur Lynch
1935 Charles Whitehead
1934 Curtis Bryan
1933 Tommy Goodwin
1932 Tommy Goodwin
1931 T. Phillip Perkins
1930 Harcourt Brice
1929 James W. West
1928 Ben Stevenson
1927 Lee Chase, Sr.
1926 Lee Chase, Sr.
1925 Fred Knight
1924 Captain HCC Tippett

Women's Division
2020 Brigitte Thibault
2019 Katherine Schuster
2018 Alexa Pano
2017 Yujeong Son
2016 Yujeong Son
2015 Lauren Stephenson
2014 Mathilda Cappeliez
2013 Shannon Aubert
2012 Isabelle Lendl
2011 Paula Reto
2010 Paula Reto
2009 Lindy Duncan
2008 Candace Schepperle
2007 Lexi Thompson
2006 Vicky Hurst
2005 Angela Park
2004 Ashley Hoagland
2003 Angela Park
2002 Meaghan Franchella

ABOUT THE Dixie Men's Amateur

Historic Florida amateur golf tournament that is open to former Dixie Amateur champions, tournament committee invitees and qualifiers for major amateur championships. The Dixie has a traditionally strong field due to college break, and a past-champions list that includes many PGA Tour players as well as top-ranked amateurs.

72-hole stroke play championship with a 54 hole cut down to 72 players and ties. The field limit will be 108 players. Played at Eagle Trace Golf Club. Apply for an invitation at www.dixieamateur.com.

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