Helped by two eagles, Cromie becomes first player in history to win the North & South Junior and the North & South Men’s Amateur
BY ALEX PODLOGAR
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – If you don’t believe in destiny, then you didn’t watch Michael Cromie play golf on Saturday.
In his fourth North & South Amateur appearance, Cromie holed out for eagle from the fairway not once, but twice as he ran roughshod over the most dominant player of the week to capture the 114th North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst No. 8.
Cromie, a native of nearby Cary N.C. and an All-American at Georgia, defeated highly regarded amateur Corey Conners 4&3 in the championship round to become the first player in history to win both the North & South Junior Amateur and the North & South Men’s Amateur.
“I can’t put it into words,” said Cromie while clutching his second Putter Boy trophy. “It’s just unbelievable. The history here in Pinehurst, especially after watching the Opens (recently), it’s just really hard to put into words how cool it is, how special it is, just how grateful I am that it was able to work out in my favor.”
“The history here in Pinehurst, especially after watching the Opens (recently), it’s just really hard to put into words how cool it is, how special it is, just how grateful I am that it was able to work out in my favor.” -North & South Champion Michael Cromie
Cromie had a lot to do with it.
After clipping Blair Hamilton 1up in a dogfight of a match in the morning semifinals, Cromie opened the championship with a lip-out bogey from about 3 feet, dropping him 1 down immediately.
That was nothing new for Conners, who again on Saturday cruised to a match play victory, beating Harley Abrams 6&5. It was the third straight match where Conners did not reach the 16th tee.
Cromie, though, made it four straight.
A wayward drive by Conners on the par-5 second allowed Cromie to square the match with a par. A par won the 3rd for Cromie after Conners failed to get up and down, and then a birdie from 8 feet on the 5th gave Cromie a 2-up lead.
Then things got really interesting.
With 75 yards and little green to work with for his third shot on the par-5 6th, Cromie hit a teardrop wedge, which landed softly and gently rolled into the cup for an eagle 3, putting him 3 up.
“That pin is really hard to get close to,” Cromie said. “I was coming in out of an OK lie out of the rough and a bad angle, so I knew I had to hit a perfect shot. I knew I had to hit something really high and soft.
“And I hit something high and soft.”
Cromie parred the 7th to go 4 up and then got up and down twice on 8 and 9 to save par and halve the holes to keep the kind of lead Conners had been enjoying throughout the championship.
Then came 10, where Cromie’s ball rested 155 yards from the hole after a perfect drive.
“That green is so firm, and it pitches away from you, so I was just trying to land it in the middle of the green and skip back there,” Cromie said. “I really was just trying to take long out of play, and I caught it a groove low on my pitching wedge. I was actually telling it to get down, but my caddie said, ‘No, I think that’s going to work out pretty good’ before it even landed. And it lands and rolls up there, and I was just like, ‘Oh…My…Gosh.’ I couldn’t believe it went in.”
That put Cromie 5 up, and effectively ended the match.
“It was about then that I had to begin to believe that it was my day,” Cromie said.
“There was nothing I could really do about it,” said Conners, who had built similar leads through 10 in all three of his previous match play matches.
“I think I was on the opposite side of this the past few rounds,” Conners added. “I wasn’t letting anyone have a chance, and that’s kind of what happened to me. I had a few chances, but he played some great golf.”
The Men’s North & South Amateur Championship is the longest consecutive-running amateur golf championship in the United States. Over the past century, the best in the golf world have vied for its coveted Putter Boy trophy. The winners now serve as legends in the game –Francis Ouimet, Billy Joe Patton, Jack Nicklaus, Curtis Strange, Davis Love III and Corey Pavin, among others – and continues to draw the best in amateur golf circles.
114TH NORTH & SOUTH AMATEUR
ROUND OF 16
No. 16 Blair Hamilton d. No. 1 Rico Hoey 2up
No. 8 Austin Connelly d. No. 9 Sam Bernstein 2&1
No. 4 Will Cromie d. No. 13 Jarrod Freeman 2&1
No. 12 Carr Vernon d. No. 5 J.D. Dornes 2up
No. 2 Will Seger d. No. 15 Nick Pandelena 2up
No. 10 Harley Abrams d. No. 7 Chris Petefish 2up
No. 14 David Mills d. No. 3 Chris Hemmerich 1up
No. 11 Corey Conners d. No. 6 Andrew Dorn 7&6
No. 16 Blair Hamilton d. No. 8 Austin Connelly 19 Holes
No. 4 Michael Cromie d. No. 12 Carr Vernon 1up
No. 10 Harley Abrams d. No. 2 Will Seger 1up
No. 11 Corey Conners d. No. 14 David Mills 4&3
PINEHURST NO. 8
No. 4 Michael Cromie d. No. 16 Blair Hamilton 1up
No. 11 Corey Conners d. No. 10 Harley Abrams 6&5
PINEHURST NO. 8
No. 4 Michael Cromie d. No. 11 Corey Conners 4&3