Western Amateur: Lovemark is Youngest-ever Champ

Benton Harbor, Mich. (Sunday, July 31) – Seventeen-year-old Jamie Lovemark made history Sunday in the 103rd Western Amateur, becoming the youngest player ever to win the championship and only the third player to win both the Western Junior and the Western Amateur.

Not since Bobby Clampett won both championships in 1978 had the feat been accomplished. Jim Wiechers was the first, and only other, golfer to win both, claiming the Western Junior in 1964 and the Western Amateur in 1966.

Lovemark, who won the Western Junior in July 2004 at Denver Country Club, cruised to the 2005 Western Amateur title at Point O’Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich., winning his semifinal match, 5 and 4, over 20-year-old Luke List, a junior at Vanderbilt, and claiming the championship with a 3 and 2 win over another 20-year-old, Chris Wilson, a junior at Northwestern.

By winning the Western Amateur, Lovemark also earned an exemption to play in the 2006 Cialis Western Open, the PGA TOUR’s annual stop at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Illinois. That makes him eligible to play in all three WGA championships next year. On Sunday, Lovemark still was at a loss for words to describe his thoughts on winning the Western Junior and Western Amateur in a 13-month span.

“Right now it’s very hard to explain. It hasn’t really sunk in,” said Lovemark, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. “When I wake up, I think I’ll realize I just won one of the best amateur tournaments in the country. It’s beyond words … it’s pretty much beyond belief to me. That’s quite an honor to win both.”

Lovemark, a senior at Torrey Pines High School, recorded his historic Western Amateur win while playing in just his second amateur event. He played in the 2003 U.S. Amateur but failed to make match play.

“I’ve haven’t really played against these guys,” he said. “My first round (in stroke play on Wednesday), I shot 69. I looked at the other scores and realized I could play with them.”

Success at the junior level also helped prepare him mentally. “I’ve won some pretty big events, the Western Junior and the Rolex (Junior All-American),” he said. “You have to learn how to win first. Once you win, it becomes easier.”

Lovemark indicated he’s looking forward to testing his game against the world’s best golfers at the Cialis Western Open in July 2006. “That’s like a newer level. That’s as high as it gets,” he said. “I’m going to work really hard over the year, and, hopefully, I’ll be ready for it.”

For now, Lovemark expects to drop plans to play in next week’s Pacific Coast Amateur. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to cancel that and go back home and rest,” he said. “I knew a lot about this tournament. I knew you had to play a lot of golf …” – 72 holes of stroke play and four 18-hole matches for the champion and runner-up.

Lovemark played fewer holes than his opponents in match play; none of his matches went past the 16th hole – his four victories were 3 and 2, 3 and 2, 5 and 4 and 3 and 2. Wilson, who fell in the final, went the full 18 holes in two of his matches and needed 22 holes to win his quarterfinal match.

For Wilson, of Dublin, Ohio, the finish was bittersweet. It was his best performance in a national amateur event, but he couldn’t help pondering what might have been.

“Jamie’s a great player, and he deserves it. When you’re playing a player of Jamie’s capacity, all facets of your game have to be at the top,” Wilson said. “I missed a couple of putts I should have made. I didn’t drive it as well as I did yesterday. It just comes down to who makes the putts. Today, he made a couple and I missed a couple.”

Although most junior events are stroke play, Lovemark proved match play fits his game. “I consider myself a good match play player,” he said. “I try to make people make birdies and not let them win holes with par. I’m very aware of the strategies involved in match play.”

Making your own birdies helps, too. In his morning semifinal match against List, Lovemark made four birdies on the front nine to take a 3-up lead at the turn, and birdied the par 4, 422-yard, 16th to notch the 3 and 2 victory. Against Wilson, he birdied the first hole to take a lead he never lost.

Wilson advanced to the championship match by edging New Zealander Brad Iles, 1 up, in his morning semifinal. Wilson took a 1-up lead on the second hole against Iles and built the lead to 3-up through 13 holes. Iles scratched back, winning the next two holes to cut Wilson’s lead to 1-up, but Wilson managed to halve the last three holes, sinking an 8-foot, uphill par putt on the par 4, 421-yard, 18th to seal the win.

Quotes from the morning semifinals

Luke List, semifinalist
- Lost to Jamie Lovemark, 5 and 3

“He played great. I didn’t put any pressure on him. That was unfortunate, but he deserved it. He was capitalizing on all of his birdie putts. It was one of those days. I couldn’t get any putts to drop. I just couldn’t get anything going. To get it done, you have to make some putts. It’s a great golf course and a great tournament. I’ll be back. I have two more years (of amateur golf).”

Brad Iles, semifinalist
- Lost to Chris Wilson, 1 up

“It was one of those days where nothing went right. I was 1 down after the second hole. It was all downhill from there. My putter was just cold today, but it’s been hot the whole tournament. The law of averages … it had to go down sometime. I’ve been putting amazing the whole tournament except for today. He deserved it. He’s a solid player. I would have felt bad taking it from him. It’s been a great week. This has been an amazing week for me. I came in not feeling anything … and it kept getting better and better.”


Jamie Lovemark, 17, Rancho Santa Fe, California - Senior, Torrey Pines H.S.
First team, Rolex Junior All-American. In July 2004, won the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the 2004 Western Junior in consecutive weeks, tying the Denver Country Club competitive course record of 65 in final round of the Western Junior. Member, 2004 Canon Cup team. Playing in his first Western Amateur. Earned exemption with his Western Junior win at Denver Country Club.

Chris Wilson, 20, Dublin, Ohio - Junior, Northwestern
2005 second team, All-Big 10. Winner, 2005 Ohio Amateur. 2003 Ohio Golf Association Junior champion. Playing in his second Western Amateur.

Luke List, 20, Ringgold, Georgia - Junior, Vanderbilt
Third-team All-American in 2004 as a freshman at Vanderbilt and honorable mention in 2005. Also named to the NCAA All-Freshman team in 2004. Was first-team All-SEC in 2004 and 2005. Placed 33rd in the 2005 Masters and competed in 2003 and 2005 U.S. Opens. Runner-up in the 2004 U.S. Amateur and semi-finalist at 2003 U.S. Public Links Amateur Championship. Tied for second, 2002 Western Junior. 2001 and 2002 Tennessee high school state champion. Named 2002 AJGA All-American second team. Playing in his second Western Amateur. Ranked sixth in Golfweek Men's Amateur rankings as of June 2005.

Brad Iles, 21, Tauranga, New Zealand
2003 and 2004 New Zealand Player of the Year. Champion, 2003 and 2005 North Island Amateur, 2004 Australian Stroke Play. Medalist, 2004 New Zealand Amateur and Australian Amateur. 2003 and 2005 New Zealand Four Nations Team. Second, 2003 Riversdale Cup. Playing in his first Western Amateur.

* * * * * *

- for all rounds of “Sweet 16” Match Play at the 103rd Western Amateur, presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf

First Round Match Play Results:
- Saturday morning, July 30, 2005

Upper Bracket
Jamie Lovemark, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., def. Andres Gonzales, Olympia, Wash., 3 and 2
Danny Green, Jackson, Tenn., def. Jon McLean, Weston, Fla., 1 up
Randy Lowry, Spring, Texas, def. Cole Isban, South Bend, Ind., 5 and 3
Luke List, Ringgold, Ga., def. Brian Carroll, Crystal Lake, Ill., 2 and 1

Lower Bracket
Philip Francis, Scottsdale, Ariz., def. Jonathan Moore, Portland, Ore., 1 up
Chris Wilson, Dublin, Ohio, def. Andrew Dodt, Queensland, Australia, 1 up
Brad Iles, Tauranga, New Zealand, def. Nathan T. Smith, Brookville, Pa., 20 holes
Richard Scott, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada, def. Seung-Su Han, Las Vegas, Nev., 1 up

Quarterfinal Match Play Results
Saturday afternoon, July 30, 2005

Upper Bracket
Lovemark def. Green, 3 and 2
List def. Lowry, 3 and 1

Lower Bracket
Wilson def. Francis, 22 holes
Iles def. Scott, 19 holes

Semifinal Matches
Sunday morning, July 31

Lovemark def. List, 5 and 4
Wilson def. Iles, 1 up

Championship Match
Sunday afternoon, July 31

Lovemark def. Wilson, 3 and 2

NOTE: Story courtesy Western Golf Association. For complete scores, please click on the tournament link above and click the results button (amateurgolf.com membership required)

ABOUT THE Western Amateur

Invitational event, known to many as the 'Masters of Amateur Golf.' Quite probably 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.

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