Lewis Wins 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur

54-year-old becomes oldest champion in the event’s 31-year history


Kenny Cook never got fully on track in the final against Randal Lewis at Shadow Hawk G.C. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)
By David Shefter, USGA
September 22, 2011

Richmond, Texas – Earlier this week at the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, 54-year-old Randal Lewis said he was eagerly looking forward to next year when he could start competing in senior-level events.

Turns out the Alma, Mich., resident can still play with the “young” guys.

And he’ll continue to enjoy that privilege at the Mid-Amateur through 2021 after defeating Kenny Cook, 31, of Noblesville, Ind., 3 and 2, on Thursday at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in the 36-hole final of the 31st Mid-Amateur, the USGA’s national championship for golfers 25 and older.

Lewis, a financial advisor who played professionally for four weeks on a Florida mini-tour after graduating from Central Michigan in 1980, also became the oldest Mid-Amateur champion in the event’s 31 years, surpassing George Zahringer, who was 49 when he claimed the 2002 title. Lewis outpaced the average age of the previous 30 Mid-Amateur champions (34.8) by nearly 20 years.

The victory came 15 years after Lewis lost to John “Spider” Miller in the Mid-Amateur final at Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford, Conn. That defeat to Miller, who like Cook is a Hoosier (from Bloomington), was an identical 3 and 2, but the match was contested over 18 holes. Thirty-six-hole finals at the Mid-Amateur started in 2001.

Of course the biggest prize – other than taking custody of the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy for one year and receiving a gold medal – was earning a likely invitation to the 2012 Masters, a perk that Augusta National Golf Club started granting with the 1989 tournament.

“I know the Masters is a dream come true,” said Lewis, “but to be a USGA champion, especially the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, is just unbelievable.”

Lewis will also be exempt into the next two U.S. Amateurs, the next USGA Senior Amateur (he turns 55 in 2012) and will have three years of exemptions out of local U.S. Open qualifying, not to mention several other major amateur competitions that will likely be sending him invites.

Lewis admitted that the Masters invitation was on his mind 15 years ago, the night before he played Miller, and that might have altered his focus during the final. After beating medalist Mike McCaffrey and two-time defending champion Nathan Smith on Wednesday in the quarterfinals and semis, respectively, Lewis said he would have a different mindset entering the final. He wasn’t going to think about Augusta or the Masters and would just go out and enjoy the moment.

“I got a decent night’s sleep last night,” said Lewis, the father of two college-age boys, Christopher (22) and Nicklaus (19). “I just wanted to focus on my game and take it one shot at a time.”

Cook, an accountant for the Department of Defense, had dominated his opponents leading into the final, trailing for only one hole over his previous five matches (80 holes). But the trend ended not long after the first tee shot. Despite giving up as much as 60 yards off the tee, Lewis won the first two holes and never trailed. The match was all square for only two holes, that coming during the morning 18 when Cook birdied the par-5 14th and the two halved the par-4 15th.

Lewis overcame his lack of power by being a model of consistency, making only three bogeys and shooting the equivalent of four under par over the 34 holes, with the usual match-play concessions.

“With the technology of today … at least I can still get the ball out there,” said Lewis, who wasn’t bothered by Cook’s length. “I just hoped that I hit it good enough and made enough birdies to keep it close.” 

Lewis was 2 up at the lunch break after posting winning pars at holes 16 and 18. At the par-5 18th hole, Cook, who played professionally for seven months after graduating from Ball State in 2003, found the water twice – the first time with a 6-iron in his hand from 201 yards – and eventually conceded Lewis’ par.

“I was definitely furious walking off 18,” said Cook, “just because I didn’t give myself an opportunity there. I kind of gave it to him.”

Cook came out strong for the afternoon 18. He reached the par-5 first hole in two with a mid-iron and two-putted for a birdie. But Lewis also reached in two with a hybrid and two-putted to halve the hole. Cook did cut the deficit to 1 down when he drove the 342-yard, par-4 second hole and two-putted for a birdie.

Lewis, however, never let Cook gain any sustained momentum.

“Today, I just rolled it terrible,” said Cook of his putting. “The speed just wasn’t there. I had a difficult time even reading the greens.

“But it was a good week. I had a lot of positives.”

Lewis began to pull away after losing the 26th hole with a bogey, thanks to a poor approach shot. He told himself going to the 27th tee that he was not going to make any more mistakes.

He didn’t. His wedge approach to the par-5 27th hole – No. 9 on the course – stopped 8 feet above the hole. Lewis converted the birdie to go 2 up.

He went 3 up with a par on the par-3 29th hole and 4 up with a birdie on the 264-yard, par-4 31st hole. Cook got one back with a birdie at the par-5 32nd, but the two halved the next two holes with pars and the match ended on the 16th green.

“That’s as good as it gets for me,” said Lewis. “You saw my peak performance.”

As a finalist, Cook receives exemptions into next year’s U.S. Amateur and a three-year exemption to the Mid-Amateur. He also is exempt from local qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. E-mail him at dshefter@usga.org. 

Richmond, Texas – Results from Thursday’s 36-hole championship match at the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur being conducted at 7,170-yard, par-72 Shadow Hawk Golf Club. 

Randal Lewis, Alma, Mich. (148) def. Kenny Cook, Noblesville, Ind. (142), 3 and 2

Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
THE RULES OF GOLF APP
Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image