Nathaniel Crosby, 19, of Hillsborough, California, won the Amateur Championship
in a dramatic fashion usually reserved for other members of his famous
family. The Championship was played over the Lake Course of the Olympic
Club in San Francisco, not more than 15 miles from the Crosby home. He
was down in four of his six matches and each time he played the shots
he needed to win.
Crosby defeated fellow Californian Brian Lindley, 24, of Fountain Valley,
1 up, 37 holes, settling the matter with a birdie putt of 20 feet on the
first extra hole. It was the first time that a final had gone more than
36 holes since 1950.
In the 36 holes of stroke play that preceded match play, Joe Rassett,
of Turlock, California, led the starting field of 282 with a qualifying
score of 145, to capture medalist honors. The field included members of
both the American and British Walker Cup Teams.
Crosby and Lindley both made match play with 152 totals. Defending Champion
and Walker Cupper Hal Sutton also made it with 151. Rassett lost his second
round match to Bill Bergin, 2 and 1, and Sutton bowed to Walker Cup teammate
and two-time Amateur Public Links Champion Jodie Mudd, 2 up.
Before reaching the final, Crosby's sternest test came from Willie Wood
in the semi-final round. Wood had Crosby 3 down after eight holes, but
going to the 16th hole, the match was even. Crosby then played three marvelous
bunker shots, the first to save a half in par at the 16th; the second,
a spectacular shot from the lower of two bunkers to the right of the 17th
green to within two feet for another par to win the hole; and the third
for another par at the l8th to win the match, 2 up. In the other semi-final
match, Lindley defeated Walker Cupper Bob Lewis, Jr., 3 and 2. Lewis had
lost in the final to Sutton in 1980.
In the morning round of the final match, neither player was able to
establish a comfortable lead. Lindley was ahead, 1 up, at the lunch break
on a 74 to Crosby's 76, four and six over par, respectively. As the afternoon
round began, Lindley pulled further ahead, winning the second hole with
a bogey, the third with a par 3 and the seventh with a birdie 3 to go
four up. Crosby won the ninth with a par 4, but Lindley had a three hole
lead with seven to play. But when he lost the 12th and 13th, his lead
was down to one hole. Lindley chipped in for a birdie 3 at the 14th to
go 2 up.
Both played excellent tee shots on the par-3 15th and halved the hole
with birdie putts of eight feet or less. Both had their problems at the
16th, a par 5. Lindley was in the front bunker in three. Crosby was off
the back of the green, also in three. But, Crosby chipped 10 feet past
and holed the putt for a winning par as Lindley faltered. Crosby needed
only a bogey 5 to win the 17th and the match was even. Both made par 4s
on the 18th.
On the first extra hole, a par 5, both players were on the edge of the
green in three shots. Lindley chipped close and had a short putt for a
par. Crosby then holed his curling left-to-right putt of 20 feet to cap
a remarkable comeback.
For a moment, Crosby thought that he had missed the putt as the ball
waited on the lip of the cup for an instant before falling in. Crosby
became only the fifth golfer to win the Amateur Championship before his
The difficult weather conditions sent the scores soaring, even Crosby's.
Though he won, Crosby was 33 over par for 120 holes of match play. Add
his score of 152 for the 36 holes of stroke play and he was 45 over par
for 156 holes. Still, he made the critical shots, the type that win championships.
William C. Campbell, the 1964 Amateur Champion, made his 37th appearance
in the Championship, a record surpassed only by Charles Evans, Jr., who
played in 50. The USGA accepted 3,525 entries, short of the record 4,008
for the 1980 Championship.