PINEHURST, N.C. – Jack Fields, who left the University of North Carolina in the middle of his junior season, thinks the decision is paying off. And after winning the North & South Amateur Championship on July 2, it seems he might be right.
Fields, who played for nearby Pinecrest High School, defeated Indiana senior David Erdy in the scheduled 36-hole final, 5 and 4, winning one of amateur golf’s most prestigious titles about three miles from where he grew up.
Fields left the Tar Heels after some academic struggles and with the belief that he could improve his professional golf prospects by concentrating on his game full time. He served a spring internship at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club and could turn pro within the next two months, after the U.S. Amateur – and, he hopes, the Walker Cup. He only helped his chances to make the U.S. Walker Cup team with the North & South victory, along with winning the 87th Carolinas Open in May.
“I’ve always thought I was this and that, but you have to prove it,” Fields told The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. “This summer, to this point, I’ve begun to prove that I can play at the highest level, and I’m ready to move on to the next level.”
This is the first year the North & South returned to a match-play-only format, with 64 invited players. In recent years, the tournament had included two rounds of stroke-play qualifying before match play.
Erdy, a senior at Indiana, won three of the first four holes. But Fields rallied, chipping in for par from behind the 18th green to end the morning round trailing only 1 up. Fields tied the match by winning the first hole of the afternoon round, and took the lead with a birdie at No. 3, then followed with birdies at 7 and 8 to jump to a 3-up advantage.
Now Fields’ name will appear on the plaque of champions in a hallway of Pinehurst’s venerable clubhouse, next to names such as Jack Nicklaus, Davis Love III, Curtis Strange and Corey Pavin. Fields knows the plaque well, having looked at it numerous times in his frequent visits to the resort.
“It’s going to be unbelievable,” he told the Observer. “I can’t wait. I’m probably going to come over here every day until they put it up.”