Golf is a game of opposites, as shown by the emotions of Pat Thompson as he posted a 5-under par total of 209 to win the 62nd Senior North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort on Thursday.
“This is huge,” Thompson said of winning at Pinehurst. His name will be emblazoned on the Perpetual Wall with the past winners of the historic amateur championship.
“I’ve vacationed here and I’ve played other tournaments here, and I’d always look at all the awards,” said Thompson, of Asheville, N.C. “I’d daydream of being one of the guys who had won the North & South. It’s a dream come true.”
After being disappointed that he failed to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur earlier this year, Thompson, “. . . decided right then and there that I’d play golf to have fun. Whether I won a tournament or finished 16th, I’d just go out and enjoy it.”
Thompson’s new outlook on the game faced a serious challenge on the 14th hole of Pinehurst No. 5 in the final round. Tied with 27th ranked Emile Vaughan of Pike Road, Ala., with just four holes to play, a loud noise from a nearby home distracted Thompson in the middle of his stroke; he missed a 14-inch putt for par on the 511-yard par-5.
“I flinched, and all of a sudden I was down a stroke,” Thompson said. “I could’ve kicked it in with my shoe.”
With his new attitude, however, Thompson rallied, making a birdie on top of Vaughan’s at the 15th hole before regaining a share of the lead with another birdie on the 17th. Vaughan went on to bogey the 18th, while Thompson made another birdie to claim the championship.
“It’s just amazing to win here,” Thompson said, clutching Pinehurst’s iconic Putter Boy trophy.
With the victory, Thompson moves up 326 places into the top 40 of the Golfweek Senior Amateur Rankings.
In the Super Senior Division, Bruce Scamehorn, of Winter Haven, Fla., dominated his competition with a runaway 6-under par 208 total, winning his division by a staggering nine strokes.
The original North & South Amateur Championship was created to foster good relations between geographic regions of the United States that had only a generation ago, at the time, battled one another in the Civil War.
The original tournament was first played in April 1901 – and is one of the longest running championships in the country.