July 8, 2008
PINEHURST, N.C. –
Matt Savage, a rising senior member of the ACC Champion Florida State Men’s Golf Team, defeated Jamie Lovemark to earn medalist honors at the 108th North and South Amateur Championship on Pinehurst No. 2 on July 6. The Seminole All-America and two-time All-ACC selection sank a birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to defeat Southern California’s two-time All-America to win one of the most nation’s most prestigious amateur golf championships.
Savage, No. 44 in the Golfweek/Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings, sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the 40th hole (the par-5 fourth) to beat Lovemark and claim his first national amateur tournament title.
“I really feel like I played well; well and consistently for the entire 40 holes,” said Savage. “I have played at that level before but not in that big of a tournament and not for six straight days. It (playing well) obviously came at a good time. I had been playing well over a couple of rounds recently but it all came together during the entire tournament for me.”
Savage defeated Lovemark by making a three-foot putt for birdie on the fourth playoff hole, after Lovemark missed a 4-foot birdie attempt. Savage led Lovemark, who is No. 6 in world amateur rankings, for much of the 36-hole championship round. Savage was three up after 18 holes but bogeyed the 22nd and 23rd holes and double bogeyed the 25th hole of the day to fall back into a tie. Savage regained the lead on the 33rd hole with a 15-foot birdie, but Lovemark forced sudden death with a birdie from 6 feet on the 36th hole. Lovemark hit the greenside bunker on the 40th hole, but missed his birdie opportunity. Savage’s long eagle attempt left him three feet for birdie, forcing Lovemark to concede.
Savage forced the playoff as he chipped to 15 feet and then sank the pressure-packed par putt on the 36th hole of the day. With the match on the line, Lovemark rolled his birdie putt, which hit the hole, circled around and fell into the cup to send the match into overtime.
“I had a feeling that he would make his birdie putt to tie the match,” said Savage. “We both had the exact same putt on the 18th hole during the morning round. Jamie is too good a golfer not to make birdie after he has played a very similar shot.”
The first three extra holes were halved with pars. On the par-5 fourth, Savage hit his second shot from 270 yards to the front of the green to about 45 feet from the hole.
“We went right to the first hole to begin the playoff,” he said. “It was kind of a bad deal for me because I had lost that hole twice to Jamie and six times during the earlier rounds of the tournaments. We both made par on one, both missed the green on two and both hit next to the green on three and finished those three holes still tied.
“We went to the fourth hole and I hit a three wood from 270 to the green – it was one of the better three woods I have ever hit,” he recalled. “Jamie missed the green and got to about eight feet on his second shot. I made my putt from about three feet to win and his birdie attempt rolled by the hole.”
Savage played well during the entire six-day tournament. He finished 12th (out of 132 golfers) during two rounds of stroke play with scores of 73-69 for a one-over par total of 142 on Pinehurst’s No. 2 and No. 4 courses. He then won seven consecutive match play groupings to claim the championship. Savage defeated Hunter Howell, 2 and 1; Alex Martin, 4 and 3; Lucas Lee in 21 holes; Andrew Giuliani, 6 and 4; Adam Long, 4 and 3, in the semifinals and bested Lovemark in the championship final.
“It was an awesome feeling to win the championship,” said Savage who estimated a gallery of more than 200 during the championship round. “I feel the win allowed me to prove to myself and a lot of others that I can play with anybody. To play 40 holes and come out on top is a very big deal. Hopefully this is a start of good things to come. The first one is always the hardest to get – hopefully this can be the start of something great for me.”
“It was great to have the opportunity to play with Jamie,” he said. “It’s similar to playing with Tiger at this level. He is a great golfer and I respect him tremendously. The opportunity to play with him was tremendous for me and I hope can take that experience and build on it.”
Savage earned All-America Honorable Mention Honors in 2007 and is a two-time All-ACC selection in 2007 and 2008. His play during his first three years as a collegian and with his victory in this event will help contend for numerous Player of the Year honors as a senior during the 2008-09 season. Savage helped lead the Seminoles to the 2008 ACC Championship – the first ACC championship in the sport of golf in school history as he earned all-ACC and All-Southwest Regional All-American honors in 2008. He has played in one NCAA Championship final, three NCAA regional championships and three ACC Championships during the first three years of his career. Savage finished in a tie for ninth at the 2007 NCAA Championship at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va., and in a tie for third place at the 2008 ACC Championship at the Old North State Club.
Savage will now look to qualify for the U.S. Amateur which will be held July 28-29 at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla.