2001: Winners strike global chord
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
A team from Great Britain & Ireland and a down-home country boy named Bubba took center stage on the men’s amateur scene in 2001.
And it all took place in August.
GB&I gave the United States a 15-9 thrashing Aug. 12 to win the Walker Cup at Ocean Forest Golf Club on Sea Island, Ga. It was only the second time since the matches were first held in 1922 that the Americans lost on home soil. Oddly enough, the other loss also took place in Georgia, at Peach Tree Country Club in Atlanta in 1989. The victory was the third GB&I victory in the last four Walker Cups, and it was the first time GB&I won two Walker Cups in a row.
Then there was Ben “Bubba” Dickerson, a 20-year-old from Hilliard, Fla., a one-stoplight town of about 3,000. He speaks with a soft, slow southern accent, but he was hard and fast on the course.
After tying for 11th to help lead Florida to the NCAA title in June, Dickerson followed with a tie for sixth at the Northeast Amateur later that month.
But it was in August when he captured national attention. After being co-medalist in the 72-hole, stroke-play portion of the Western Amateur, Dickerson went on to win four matches and win the event.
Three weeks later, he added amateur golf’s biggest prize, winning six consecutive matches and the 101st U.S. Amateur Championship. In the 36-hole final, Dickerson overcame a five-hole deficit to score a 1-up victory over Robert Hamilton.
Dickerson, a junior at Florida, had considered turning pro, but put those plans on hold. As reigning U.S. Amateur champion, he is invited to the 2002 Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.
Among other men’s amateur highlights in 2001:
Ty Tryon, a 16-year-old amateur at the time, became the second-youngest player to make a cut in the PGA Tour event, doing so at the Honda Classic. In July, when he was 17 and still an amateur, he made the cut at the B.C. Open after being the first-round leader. A high school junior, Tryon turned professional following the U.S. Amateur and became the youngest player to earn his PGA Tour card earlier this month at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
England’s Luke Donald successfully defended his Northeast Amateur title, becoming only the fourth player in the tournament’s 40-year history to do so and first since Jay Sigel in 1984-85.
Casey Wittenberg, then 16, became the youngest player to win the Azalea Amateur when he shot 5-under-par 279 at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.) against a field that included seven of the top 10 players in the Golfweek/Titleist Rankings.
Michael Sims of Bermuda captured the North and South Amateur and a week later won the Players Amateur.
Chez Reavie won the U.S. Amateur Public Links, Tim Jackson the U.S. Mid-Amateur, and Kemp Richardson the U.S. Senior Amateur. Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland captured the British Amateur, Nick Gilliam won the NCAA Division I Championship, Lucas Glover won the Sunnehanna Amateur, and Erik Compton the Monroe Invitational. Kyle Thompson was victorious at the Dogwood Invitational, Adam Groom of Australia won the Rice Planters Amateur, Cody Freeman the Southern Amateur, and Nick Cassini the Porter Cup.