2004: Amateur - Levin continues ‘awesome’ stretch

Pebble Beach, Calif.

So how did Spencer Levin follow his low-amateur performance at the U.S. Open? By winning his first California State Amateur championship June 26 at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Levin’s joyride through two of the nation’s finest courses concluded last week at Pebble Beach with a 4-and-3 victory over Mark “Buzz” Peel. This, just days after Levin stood next to U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and runner-up Phil Mickelson to receive his medal as low amateur.

“Someone walked up to me and said that these past two weeks are probably two of the greatest weeks by an amateur in history,” Levin said, “and I thought about that for a second, and man, if that’s true, that’s pretty awesome.”

That might be overstating it just a bit, considering some of the great stretches put together by amateurs in past eras. But, even taking that into consideration, Levin’s run certainly is among the best of any modern-day amateur.

Levin, of Elk Grove, Calif., barely made his starting time for stroke-play qualifying. After landing in San Jose June 21, Levin, 20, rushed to Poppy Hills and picked up right where he left off Sunday, firing a 4-under 68 to share the lead. Levin’s three-round 214 (68-74-72) was good enough for a No. 4 seed in the 32-man match-play field.

Following seven consecutive days of high-pressure stroke play at Shinnecock Hills, Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach, Levin’s next three days found him facing double rounds of match play to win the championship.

Levin, the 2003 California State Amateur runner-up, faced Casey Boyns, the 1989 and 1993 State Amateur champion, in the semifinals.

A professional caddie at Pebble Beach, Boyns provided Levin with the marquee match of the tournament, going to the 20th hole before Levin finally prevailed.

In the final, the 49-year-old Peel of Delray Beach, Fla., was bidding to become the oldest champion in the tournament’s history.

Peel spends two to three months each year in Pebble Beach and is member of the Northern California Golf Association, which allows him to play in the state amateur.

Levin’s relentless accuracy, which served him well at Shinnecock, paved the way to a 2-up lead after 18 holes, a lead he would never relinquish. Levin closed Peel out on the 15th hole, ironically the same hole where he was beaten last year by Patrick Nagle.

“Last year’s gone and I’m a different player now,” Levin said. “I carry myself a lot better now. I don’t think about the last shot as much.”

So after 10 consecutive days of intense tournament golf, what were Levin’s plans for the next day?

“I’m gonna go home and watch some TV,” he said.

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