If you are trying to place where you’ve heard the name Andrew Novak before he made a birdie on each of the final two holes to win for the first time on the Korn Ferry Tour, perhaps it is because you are a big fan of Pinehurst.
Novak made a wild stumble down the leaderboard of the 2015 North & South Amateur, and then took a wild turn during a crazy 6-for-1 playoff to get into the match play field.
Below is from the story that day. Take a look – Novak is a fun, fun guy to quote. Soon, we’ll be seeing him on the PGA Tour.
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Andrew Novak didn’t mind knowing he had to make the putt for birdie on 18 to stay out of a playoff. Of course, he didn’t really have a choice, either.
“Oh, I was informed,” he said sardonically. “My lovely mother had told me.”
As if the day wasn’t rough enough, Novak, who had begun the final stroke play round of the 115th North & South Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2 alone in third place, had tumbled all the way down the leaderboard into a tie with five others for 16th.
“Oh, I was informed. My lovely mother had told me.” -Andrew Novak
The math of the moment, though, was simple. Make the birdie from about 12 feet in the shadow of Payne Stewart’s statue and advance to match play as the final seed. Miss, and that meant signing for an 8-over 78 and God knows what.
“I knew if I made it, I was probably safe,” said Novak, who plays at Wofford. “And if I missed, that I’d probably be in a playoff. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of playoff.”
“(I knew) if I missed, I’d probably be in a playoff. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of playoff.” -Andrew Novak
As Pinehurst No. 2 once more lived up to its U.S. Open reputation – the course yielded just two scores under par in the 96-player field on Wednesday – no players outside of medalist George Cunningham and second-place Clark Engle could truly feel safe about advancing to one of the top 16 seeds when play began.
And many tumbled down as the round wore on, finally leaving six players to contend for the final seed available for match play.
Included were some of the week’s best players like Davis Love III’s son, Dru, Duke’s Adam Wood and Duke recruit Alex Smalley, both of whom started the day tied for 6th. J.D. Dornes had hung around the cut line most of the day and made the playoff, as did Lee Hodges, who fired a solid even-par 70 to move up from a tie for 34th.
They began on the 14th hole, and almost immediately the field was cut in half. Love missed the green long and right, his ball settling all the way at the bottom of the hill into the pinestraw behind the green, leading to a bogey. Wood and Dornes missed short putts for par while Novak, Hodges and Smalley made par to stay alive.
“The raking I was in, there in the bunker? Yeah, that was my work. So that actually worked out pretty well. I guess that was lucky because I truly had the exact same shot a couple hours earlier.” – Andrew Novak
All three made pars at the par-3 15th, with Hodges getting up and down from left of the green. On the 513-yard, par-4 16th, both Novak and Hodges made brilliant par saves from greenside bunkers as Smalley, who did not miss a fairway or green on any of the four playoff holes, missed a 12-footer for birdie.
“I got a little lucky on 16,” admitted Novak. “I was about two feet from where I was earlier during the third round. The raking I was in, there in the bunker? Yeah, that was my work. So that actually worked out pretty well. I guess that was lucky because I truly had the exact same shot a couple hours earlier.”
All three moved on to 17, where Novak was first to putt from about 30 feet. The putt looked good the entire way, and as it inched closer to the hole, Novak raised his putter and pumped his fist as the ball dropped into the cup for birdie.
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