Aug. 24, 2008
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. –
Florida State University golfer Drew Kittleson, who begins his sophomore year of classes on Monday morning, was defeated by Danny Lee by a 5 and 4 score in the championship finals of the 108th U.S. Amateur Championship on Pinehurst No. 2. Kittleson won five consecutive matches to get to the 36-hole championship match but was unable to stop Lee who is currently ranked as the No. 1 amateur player in the world.
With his finish as a finalist in the event, Kittleson will most likely receive an invitation to play in the 2009 Master’s Championship at Augusta and earned an automatic exemption into the 2009 U.S. Open and the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championships.
“If there was one tournament you would want to get second this is definitely it,” said Kittleson after the match. “It’s got the most benefits, that’s for sure. So definitely not a total loss, because I had an unbelievable time this week with everybody, the volunteers, USGA, it was a blast. I couldn’t have asked for anything else. I lived the dream for the whole week.”
Kittleson began the championship match well as he took a one-hole lead over Lee on the first hole of the morning. He carded a birdie three as compared to Lee’s par four on the first hole to take an early lead. He held that lead for until the eighth hole when Lee tied the match. Lee than built a five-hole lead over the next nine holes to complete the first 18 holes of the 36 hole match with a five-hole advantage.
Kittleson carded a one-over par score of 71 with two birdies, 14 holes of par and only two bogeys on his first 18 holes of the day.
“I didn’t play that great in the morning I was probably around even or 1 over,” said Kittleson.
True to form in this event, Kittleson began to play well and worked his way back into the match over the second round of 18 holes. After Lee took as much as a six hole lead on the second hole of play in the afternoon, Kittleson got hot and trailed by only two shots after eight holes. He was five under par with a score of 27 and won four holes after playing eight holes. During that span, he carded three birdies and an eagle on the par four seventh hole.
“In the afternoon, I tied first hole with a birdie and I lose the second hole with bogey, to go six down,” said Kittleson. “And then I go birdie, birdie, and then get 3 down, then I get to 2 down, I chip in for eagle, and then tie with another birdie, and then he birdies the next two.”
Lee regained his form and won the championship over the final six holes of the match as he claimed holes No. 9, 10 and 14 to win the prestigious title. Over the final six holes, Lee carded three birdies and three pars in comparison to one birdie and five pars for Kittleson.
“He (Danny) played so well,” said Kittleson. “He got some awesome up and downs (on holes) 17 and 18 in the morning that he made real big putts, about 12 footers for birdie or for par to halve the hole. I saw him play really well and any time you see somebody play that well you can say his strength is hitting the fairway, hitting the green and then making a putt.”
“Drew showed an incredible amount of heart, talent and sportsmanship,” said Seminole Head Coach Trey Jones. “We tell our guys that you can control only what you can control and by his play he did exactly that. He played a strong player who is playing well and he never backed down.
“I’m very proud of Drew because he played all the way to the end,” said Jones. “He is one of those players who jus doesn’t give up. His play this week doesn’t surprise me at all.”
Kittleson and his Seminole teammates begin defense of the 2008 ACC Championship at the Fighting Illini Invitational at the Olympia Fields Golf Club Sept. 19-21.