Ben "Bubba" Dickerson
Dickerson, 20, of Hilliard, Fla., overcame a 5-down deficit through 14
holes and won the last two holes of the match to clinch the 2001 U.S.
Amateur Championship over Robert Hamilton, 23, of Carmichael, Calif.,
1 up, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga.
was 5-up after a birdie on the 14th hole in the morning 18. However, Dickerson,
who changed to a lucky shirt after the first nine holes, stormed back
to win holes 15 through 18 to reduce his deficit to 1 down at lunch. With
a birdie on the 20th hole, he completed his stirring comeback and squared
of the things that popped into my mind was, I watched Tiger (Woods) play
Trip (Kuehne) at TPC and he was six down with probably 17 holes to play
and then he was 5-down after 18 against Steve Scott," said Dickerson,
who attended the University of Florida. "And he came back both times
and won the championship."
then changed hands three times in the final 18 holes and neither player
had more than a 1-up lead at any time in that stretch. However, it was
Hamilton who held the lead at 1 up after winning the 34th hole.
On the 35th
hole, Hamilton drove into the right rough. He finished with a bogey, losing
the hole to Dickerson’s two-putt par.
has been my hole all week," Dickerson said. "It’s a funny thing
because there’s a tree that sticks out to the left there right off the
tee. And, it really didn’t set up well to my eye for my driver because
I fade the ball."
honor on the 235-yard, par-3 36th hole, Dickerson unleashed a 4 iron that
landed on the green 15 feet short of the hole. Hamilton, who had played
the last hole at East Lake just once in match play, drove his 3 iron nearly
into the lip of the front right bunker. He was able to advance the ball
to the fringe and then chipped short and missed his 20-foot bogey putt.
Then, Dickerson’s putt found the hole for the championship.
hit a great shot," said Hamilton, a 2000 University of California-Berkeley
graduate. "He pulled it off when he needed to. He pulled it off at
the right time. I didn’t hit a good shot. I didn’t end up with a good
lie. It’s a great hole. It’s great for drama."
shirt change signaled a momentum swing in his mind.
a lot of significance to the shirt," said Dickerson. "This is
the NCAA National Championship shirt the last day. This is also the last-day
shirt at the Western Amateur Championship. So, this shirt means a lot
a USGA final for the second straight year, Dickerson became the first
player since Woods, in 1994, to win the U.S. Amateur and the Western Amateur
in the same year. Only six other players, since World War II, have won
the Western and Amateur titles in the same year, including Jack Nicklaus
(1961), Hal Sutton (1980), and Justin Leonard (1992). Dickerson lost to
D.J. Trahan in
in the final of the 2000 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
is also the first U.S. Amateur champion since Woods to play on the NCAA
Championship team the same year.
match was suspended for 50 minutes due to weather with the players all
square and on the tee of the 28th hole.
the final, both players had their troubles. Missed fairways led to numerous
errors. Overall, Hamilton recorded nine bogeys and three double bogeys,
offset by six birdies and one eagle. Dickerson finished with four bogeys,
three double bogeys and six birdies. But Dickerson did find 18 of 28 fairways
from the tee. Dickerson won his first round match, 6 and 5, over Steve
Paramore of Ashland, Ohio and then edged his next four opponents. He beat
Chris Nallen of Hackettstown, N.J., 1 up, in the second round. He followed
with a 2-and-1
win over 2001 NCAA Freshman of the Year and Florida teammate Camilo Villegas
of Colombia. Dickerson defeated third-seeded Michael Sims of Bermuda,
1 up and closed out Brian Nosler of Lake Oswego, Ore., 1 up in the semifinals
by winning three of the last four holes.
Each of his
last three matches took significant turns at the 17th hole, where he made
dramatic birdies in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds and a clutch
par in the final.
Hamilton had less trouble with his side of the bracket. In the first round,
he beat Andrew
Svoboda of Stamford, Conn., 3 and 2. Then, he defeated Greg Earnhardt
of Greensboro, N.C., 3 and 2; Daniel Ozley of Birmingham, Ala., 4 and
3; Daniel Summerhays of Farmington,
Utah, 4 and
3; and Manuel Merizalde of Columbia, 2 and 1, in the semifinals. He only
trailed in his first and semifinal round matches but the deficit didn’t
go past the 7th hole in either match.
winner is exempt into the next Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. The
two finalists are invited to play in the next Masters.