By Graham Elliott
Last year, Jack Ferguson watched Clemson teammate Matt Hendrix take home the Sunnehanna Amateur title. Ferguson took home the memory of meeting Arnold Palmer and a Palmer autographed hat.
This year, things were different.
Before the tournament, Ferguson got the chance to hear Palmer speak at the player’s dinner, and he got the chance to be in a photo with him. Best of all, Ferguson finally got the chance to win a big tournament, something he had never done.
“It’s weird, I am actually reading his (Palmer’s) book right now,” said Ferguson, who became the fourth consecutive Clemson Tiger (2001 Lucas Glover, ’02 Dillard Pruitt and Hendrix) to win the Sunnehanna Amateur title.
“That is just awesome, you just really can’t get any better than that,” he said. “It must be something about this place, I just don’t know what it is.”
Ferguson shot 68-67-68 for a 7-under-par 203 total and a two-shot victory over Matt Rosenfeld (205), a rising junior at Texas.
Ferguson led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole event, which was reduced from 72 holes because of rain. Even when things appeared to be looking bad for him, like on the 171-yard 10th hole, something good would happen.
“I pushed it out there and it hit the tree and when it came down (about 20 feet from the hole) I thought to myself, ‘this could be it,’ ” said Ferguson, who went on to eagle the par-5 11th and never looked back.
“That is what really got me going. After that, I didn’t want to start playing safe because that is when things go wrong for me and I don’t commit to shots.”
This theory was pointed out to Ferguson June 1-4 at the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship by his coach Larry Penley.
“Coach watched me play in the third round of the NCAAs and he told me it looked like I was playing scared,” said Ferguson. “He told me to just play, and I think that is what I did today. I never really hit any safe shots, I just took dead aim and everything worked out.”
As for Rosenfeld, who tied for 15th at the NCAA Championship, Sunnehanna proved to be another solid week.
“I played well on the back side, I shot 32, but I felt like I needed to get it to 31 or 30,” said Rosenfeld, who shot 69-69-67. “Jack (Ferguson) played well, he played really well this week.”
Danny Green and Nicolas Thompson tied for third at 3-under 207.