Interview With U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Randal Lewis


By USGA
September 22, 2011

THE MODERATOR:  U.S. Mid‑Amateur champion, Randal Lewis, congratulations on a great week.  Give us our thoughts becoming the 2011 champion.

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, it's unbelievable.  I mean, to win at this age, especially in the heat ‑ that was one of my bigger concerns coming down here.  Being from Michigan, we're used to temperatures ‑ well, this time of the year ‑ in the 60s.

So coming down here watching the forecast, at least it wasn't over 100.  That was one of my big concerns, was could I hold off from an endurance stand point.  I did, but it was tough.  I was tired.

THE MODERATOR:  15 years ago you played a Hoosier, you lost 3‑2; 15 years later you played another Hoosier (John “Spider” Miller) and you win 3 and 2.  I guess that's come full circle.

RANDAL LEWIS:  I guess it does.

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about that and getting back to this championship and this time getting the job done and winning it.

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, it was different this time.  In Hartford I was nervous.  I was really nervous today, too, but at Hartford I just didn't play particularly well and I really didn't putt well in that finals match.  You know, my thought that night was of the Masters, and it was just the wrong thing to think about.

So I certainly didn't go that direction this time.  It was much more comfortable, and it helped to have a couple big‑time matches against Mike and Nathan in the quarters and the semis.

I mean, I had to play the golf of my life to be able to get by those guys.  So that certainly helped to play in that kind of pressure against players, especially like Nathan, of that caliber, is unbelievable.

So that helped me.  I got a decent night's sleep last night, and I certainly didn't thinking about the Masters.  I just wanted to focus on my game and play one shot at a time.

THE MODERATOR:  Well speaking of the Masters, obviously you're likely going to be getting an invitation, but there's gonna be a lot more invitations coming your way, too.  You're ten years exempt for the Mid‑Am, two years exempt for the U.S. Am, a three-year local exemption for the  Open.

I am sure there is going to be a lot of invitations like Western Am and those types of events.  Your calendar is gonna be pretty full starting next April.

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, you know what?  Actually, I'm not going to be able to play in all of those unfortunately.  I would like to trade the U.S. Amateur for the U.S. Senior Open, which is kind of in our back yard in Michigan.  So I'll talk to the USGA about that.

Q.  But you're in the Senior Am next year. 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, I'm in the Senior Am, which will be really neat.

Q.  Can I just ask you, you know, obviously there has been a lot talk about older guys doing well and bunch of stories on Watson when he almost won the U.S. Open.  Is it true that age is not necessarily a determination? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, I think you know what, quite honestly, with the technology today, it allows a guy like me ‑ even though I'm not even close to someone like Kenny ‑ at least I can still get the ball out there to play a golf course like this.  That certainly doesn't hurt.

It's funny you mentioned Watson.  I was thinking about him on a couple holes.  I thought, That was pretty cool what he did.  This isn't in that realm.  I was doing a comparison.  I was thinking, I'm maybe going to win the Mid‑Am at 54; Watson was almost 60.

That would be like winning the U.S. Amateur, at 54, what he was doing in the British Open.

But it is an inspiration to see the older guys play well.  It is.

Q.  You're 20 years older than the average age of the previous 30 winners.  34.8 was the average age.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Was it really?

Q.  Yeah.  And it's funny, because the same day you won today, a 50 year old won the Women's Mid‑Am (Ellen Port). 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Oh, really?

Q.  Randal, yesterday you had said you're anxious to get ready to play senior amateur golf.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yep.

Q.  Now, like David said, you're going to have a lot of other possibilities and invitations to things like the Western, Northeast Am... (indiscernible.)  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Oh, yeah.  Those will probably be on my schedule.  (Laughter.)  You know what?  I got a couple great partners in my office that will work me on our advisory practice, financial advisory practice, so we're going to have some conversations.

They're great guys and great advisors, so I'm sure we can work something out for this year.  It is going to be a pretty special year with all the different invites I'm going to get.  Sure don't want to pass 'em up.  I mean, don't get many chances to do that, especially at my age, so...

Q.  He outdrove you on I think almost every hole, or almost every hole.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  He outdrove me with a hybrid.

Q.  You knew you were going to be outdriven, so do you not even think about that?  Did you look how far ahead he was? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  To be honest, I don't even pay attention.  I mean, you can't.  I kind of watched him, but I didn't watch him swing for the most part.  Just heard the sound of the ball.  I knew he was consistently going to be 60 yards by me, so I just hoped that I hit it good enough and made a couple birdies to keep it close.

Q.  Talk about a couple key holes.  Got off to an early lead.  Got back all square on 14, and then won 16 and 18 with pars.  Nice little momentum.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah.

Q.  Then both came out and birdied the first.  He birdied the first.  Was there any particular moment in that second 18 where you felt like it was a turning point? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, I did.  It was after I bogeyed 8.  I mean, I hit a really great drive on 8 and hit a terrible iron way right of the green and couldn't got it up and down.  So I'm going, Okay, from this point in I want to play this round clean and not make any mistakes and make him beat me.

Then I birdied 9, and I never did make a mistake coming in.

Q.  Only three bogeys all day.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah.

Q.  Over 34 holes of golf... 

RANDAL LEWIS:  On a course like this, that's as good as it gets for me.  I mean, you saw my peak performance this week.  If there is a peak performance, this was it.  (Laughter.)

Q.  You might as well do it in the national championship.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  That's a good time to do it.

Q.  I don't know if you've been to Augusta, but I'm sure you've watched it on television.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Oh, yeah.  I've been to Augusta.  That was the problem in '96 at Hartford.  I just kept thinking, Oh, my gosh.  This place is so unbelievable.  I can't even imagine.  I was thinking about that, you know, I need to win this golf tournament.

Q.  How many times have you been? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Only once, but that's all I needed.  It was unbelievable.

Q.  What year? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  We actually went in '94.  That's when my focus really snapped in about, you know, I need to win this thing so I can get there.

But as the years have passed, obviously my goals have changed.  I mean, it means more ‑‑ and not ‑‑ trust me, the Masters is going to be the dream of a lifetime.  But to be a USGA champion, especially the Mid‑Amateur, it's what I dreamed about more than anything in golf.

It's unbelievable that I get ‑‑ I mean, you know, my amateur days, U.S. Amateur days of winner were gone a long time ago.  This one means a lot, so...

Q.  I guess you won't have any trouble finding people to accept some of your Masters tickets for next year.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  I don't know if you get too many Masters tickets.  Yeah, I've already had a ton of texts saying, Yeah, can I get tickets to the Masters?

Q.  (No microphone.) 

RANDAL LEWIS:  No, I'm probably not going to abuse that.  I'm going to keep that to a pretty tight group.  My wife will be the one I want to take because she's an exceptional player.  Without her I wouldn't be here.  She's been an unbelievable part of my life and incredibly supportive.  Without her all these years, I wouldn't be here.  Absolutely wouldn't be here.

Q.  What's her name? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Melanie.

Q.  What kind of player is she?  

RANDAL LEWIS:  She played this summer and she shot 71.  I had to shoot 66 to squeak by her.  She can play, so...

Q.  You started playing golf at age 17? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yes.

Q.  And back then there was no Mid‑Amateur. 

RANDAL LEWIS:  No.  So the U.S. Amateur was the big deal back then.

Q.  (No microphone.) 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Oh, yeah, I mean...

Q.  (No microphone.) 

RANDAL LEWIS:  No.  I know how good those guys are, so...

Q.  Where did you go to college? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Central Michigan University.

Q.  And you played golf there? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  I played there one year.  I wasn't a very good player in college, to be honest with you.  I just was so inexperienced.  It wasn't until I got out of college that I became a lot better player, so...

Q.  I read somewhere that you turned pro, but not for very long.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, for four weeks.  In hindsight, I wish I wouldn't have did that, because I graduated from college and the economy wasn't very good ‑ or maybe my degree wasn't what somebody was looking for ‑ but I didn't have a job.

I had like $1,500 in savings, and my mom and dad gave me another 500 bucks.  I said, I'm just going to go off to Florida and play the mini tour.  I went to the old mini tour, and plunked $1,200 down and actually won $1,400.

That wasn't getting anywhere, but I had something else that was going on.  I happened to meet a young lady who ended up becoming my wife.  It was a pretty strong pull for me to come back because she was still in school at Central.

So that was the end of my pro days.  I recognized pretty quickly that I wasn't a tour caliber player.

Q.  Four weeks? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, four weeks.

Q.  How many kids do you have? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Two boys.  Both up at Central Michigan.

Q.  What ages?  

RANDAL LEWIS:  22 and 19.

Q.  Golfers? 

            RANDAL LEWIS:  You know, they play a little bit, but they're not serious about it.  They liked to do other things.  Quite honestly, growing up through the years, they always got the comments about, Oh, your dad's Randy Lewis.  You should be eally good.  I don't think they liked to hear that too much.

MELANIE LEWIS:  However, we did name our son after Nicklaus.

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah, we did.  N‑i‑c‑k‑l‑a‑u‑s.  It was interesting, because he was born about a month before my first Michigan Amateur victory.  So that was a big part of that.  I was so excited about having another boy.  I was on Cloud 9.  Really hadn't even played that much golf and I won the Michigan Amateur, so that was pretty cool.

Q.  What's your other son's name? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Christopher.

Q.  Tell me how to spell Nicklaus again? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  N‑i‑c‑k‑l‑a‑u‑s, just like Jack, so...

Q.  How old are they? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  22 and 19.

Q.  Which is which? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Christopher is the oldest one; Nicklaus is the youngest one.

Q.  Are you done for the year?  This is it competition‑wise? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  I got to play one deal next weekend for the state golf association.  I'll keep playing once in a while, but I probably need to go back to work for a couple weeks.  (Laughter.)

Q.  You got plans for the trophy?  Some liquid fit in there, you think? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  You know, it's interesting you say that.  We just remodeled our family room a year ago, two years ago, and we get this really nice bookcase on both sides of the fireplace that are lighted.  So I'm sure we'll find a spot in there.

MELANIE LEWIS:  (Indiscernible.)  (Laughter.)

RANDAL LEWIS:  She does it all, though.

Q.  Something a little stronger than water?  

RANDAL LEWIS:  Tonight there's going to be something stronger than water.  (Laughter.)

THE MODERATOR:  The trophy actually has to get shipped back.  They have to engrave it, so...

RANDAL LEWIS:  Yeah.

THE MODERATOR:  Well, congratulations Randy.  Job well done.  Enjoy all the spoils of the victory and the invitations and exemptions.

RANDAL LEWIS:  Still unbelievable.  Yeah, just unbelievable.

Q.  You'll be playing in this thing until you're 64 now.  

RANDAL LEWIS:  You know what?  I have to think about that.  It would be tempting, but if I don't think I can come in here and make a decent showing, then even at some point if I got the exemption I would have to think about that.

Q.  Paul Simson was playing this week at 60? 

RANDAL LEWIS:  Paul Simson is ‑‑ you think my short game is good, his short game ‑‑ he beat me in the ' Mid‑Am in Dallas the second round.

THE MODERATOR:  All right, thanks.

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