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2001

Ben "Bubba" Dickerson

Ben "Bubba" 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.

Hamilton 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 the match.

"One 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."

The lead 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.

"Seventeen 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."

With the 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.

"Bubba 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."

Dickerson’s shirt change signaled a momentum swing in his mind.

"There’s 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 to me."

Playing in 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

37 holes in the final of the 2000 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Dickerson is also the first U.S. Amateur champion since Woods to play on the NCAA Championship team the same year.

The final match was suspended for 50 minutes due to weather with the players all square and on the tee of the 28th hole.

Throughout 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.

>Conversely, 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.

The Amateur winner is exempt into the next Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. The two finalists are invited to play in the next Masters.

 
Championship Facts

U.S. Amateur

PAR AND YARDAGE – Hazeltine National Golf Club will play at 7,473 yards and par 36-36—72. The Chaska Town Course, which will be used for the first two days of stroke play, will play at 6,753 yards and par 35-36– 71.

HAZELTINE NATIONAL GOLF CLUB – Robert Trent Jones designed Hazeltine National, which opened in 1962. Arthur Hills designed the Chaska Town Course, which opened in 1997.

TICKETS AVAILABLE – Tickets can be purchased by calling the U.S. Amateur office at (952) 556-5441. Daily tickets are $15 and $60 for a weekly pass. More extensive ticket options are also available. Children 17 and under are admitted free if accompanied by a paying adult.

COURSE SET-UP – Hazeltine National will be set for green speeds of approximately 11-feet 6 inches on the Stimpmeter. The primary rough will be grown to four inches, with a strip of intermediate rough cut to 1˝ inches in height. Bent grass covers both the fairways and greens.

SLOPE AND COURSE RATINGS – Hazeltine National will carry a USGA Course Rating™ of 77.8 and a Slope Rating® of 155. The Chaska Town Course will carry a USGA Course Rating™ of 73.4 and a Slope Rating® of 143. An "average" Slope Rating in the U.S. is about 113.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS – Quarterfinalists from 2005 are fully exempt from having to qualify for the 2006 championship. Those exempt and entered (5) are Austin Eaton of North Sutton, N.H., Anthony Kim of La Quinta, Calif., Mark Leon of Canada, Dawie van der Walt of Beaumont, Texas (South Africa) and Ryan Yip of Canada.

TELEVISION COVERAGE – The U.S. Amateur will have 10 hours of national coverage on The Golf Channel and NBC over the last five days of the Championship.

The Golf Channel
First Round Matches – Wed. (Aug. 23), 4-6 p.m. (EDT)
Third Round Matches – Thurs. (Aug. 24), 4-6 p.m. (EDT)
Quarterfinal Matches – Fri. (Aug. 25), 4-6 p.m. (EDT)

NBC
Semifinal Matches – Sat. (Aug. 26), 4-6 p.m. (EDT)
Championship Match – Sun. (Aug. 27), 4-6 p.m. (EDT)

 

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