Amateur Spotlight: Mid-Amateur Champ Womack Ready
Kelly, U.S. Amateur Runner-up,
Soaking Up Masters Experience
Reinstated Amateur Finally Finds Masters Dream Come Into
April 4, 2007
By Stuart Hall
As a young boy growing up in
coddled the thought of one day becoming a professional golfer and playing in the
Masters, conducted just a 120-mile ride up the rode in
Well, Womack, 28, became a professional golfer and this week he will play in his
Yet Womack's circuitous route to
has him in the field not as a professional, but as an amateur after winning the
U.S. Mid-Amateur title at Forest Highlands Golf Club in
, in September. He joins U.S. Amateur finalists
, British Amateur champion
and U.S. Amateur Public Links champion
among the five amateurs in the 2007 field.
"It's weird sometimes how things work out," said Womack. "If I wouldn't have gotten
my amateur status back, I wouldn't be in the Masters right now."
Dave Womack, seen during last year's U.S. Mid-Amateur, became a reinstated amateur
in 2003. (USGA Photo Archives)
After playing collegiately at
, Womack set out to fulfill his professional golf dreams.
"When I was a mini-tour pro, the goal was to do the best that I could do, get into
Q-School and try and get on the PGA Tour," said Womack, who never made it past the
It is not that Womack did not possess talent. It's just that he kept wondering if
he was making the right career choice. Hmm, chase fame and fortune or settle down
and establish roots in a community he had been born and raised?
"Something just told me to get my amateur status back," said Womack. "I love competing,
but I'm pretty much a homebody and like sleeping in my own bed and knowing I can
come to work on Monday and make a living."
So in 2003, after getting married, buying a house and becoming an insurance agent,
Womack applied for and was granted his amateur status again. Womack has long been
at peace with his decision and now is coming into his own as an elite amateur competitor.
A two-time winner of the Georgia Public Links Championship (2003 and 2005), Womack's
2006 season earned him the Georgia State Golf Association's Tommy Barnes Award for
overall player of the year. He posted three top-10 finishes in GSCA events, including
a tie for second at the Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship.
And then came September.
"I had been playing really well, so I just went to the Mid-Am with the mindset to
enjoy myself and get the most out of the week," said Womack, who shot 74-70-144
to get into the match-play portion for the first time in a USGA event. "After I
won my first-round match, my game just kept improving and with each win, I just
kept telling myself, 'I can win this thing.' "
Though Womack was in a state of disbelief to have actually made the championship
final against fellow Georgian Ryan Hybl, he kept telling himself to keep "staying
in the moment."
And when Womack sank a 5-foot par putt to defeat Hybl, 1 up, in the 36-hole final,
the moment was his. The young man from McDonough was earning an invitation to
"Five years from now we'll be sitting around a bar or at a restaurant and be saying,
'You remember that time at
on such-and-such hole you did this .,' " said Womack. "Those are the type of little
things that is going to make it special.
"I'm just going to try and take advantage of everything, get the most out of it,
so that when I do reflect back on it, I can honestly say we did everything we could
possibly do to enjoy ourselves."
Womack, whose own Masters memories began with
winning in 1989, made eight preparatory trips to the fabled
acreage. Each time he learned more about the subtle nuances of the course, which
will play 7,445 yards and suits Womack's long-hitting game. He has learned to be
aware of where Rae's Creek is at all times as the green's grass grain bends toward
the creek. He also stuck a hybrid club in his bag just for the 240-yard, par-3 fourth
He played nine holes with 1973 champion
, and then scored a round with former
"I really don't know how to prepare for it because I've never played in one before,"
said Womack, whose main goal is to make the cut and earn low amateur. Since 1989
when the Masters began inviting the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, no Mid-Amateur winner
has ever made the cut, with
nearly achieving the feat in 2004.
More than anything, Womack just wants to soak up the experience.
He has rented a house for his family and friends but will stay in the famous Crow's
Nest atop the clubhouse a few nights. His cousin,
, will be on his bag, fulfilling a childhood pledge that whoever qualified first,
the other would serve as caddie. His 7-year-old cousin will carry his bag in the
Par-3 Tournament. His grandfather, 91-year-old L.P. McKibben, who introduced Womack
to the game at age 8, will attend the opening round, but then retire to the comfort
of home and his 61-inch widescreen television, which he purchased just for the week.
Womack played with Cink again on Sunday, and
Charles Howell III
on Monday. Interview requests have been frequent, and "I just hope I get a chance
to do it again some day," he said.
If Womack has one regret it will be that his older brother Brian will not be in
attendance. Brian, seven years Womack's elder, died in a car accident in 1996. Along
with his grandfather, Womack credits Brian, a 2-handicapper, with developing his
"We're such a close-knit family and we're all going to share this week, and I know
he would have loved to have been a part of this," said Womack. "He was always bragging
on me and letting people know how I was doing."
Womack appears to be doing just fine these days.
Second Cut: Last August,
were two prominent storylines at the U.S. Amateur. Horschel, who plays at the
University of Florida
, opened stroke play with a USGA-record score of 60 at the Chaska (Minn.)
Town Course. Simpson, who plays at
, advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual winner Ramsay.
On Sunday, the two were the headliners at the Azalea Amateur at the Country Club
of Charleston (S.C.). Simpson closed with a final-round 68 to tie Horschel at 6-under-par
278 after 72 holes.
The pair parred the first playoff hole and then Simpson, with an awkward stance
in a fairway bunker, knocked a 9-iron approach from 120 yards to 3 feet. Simpson
tapped in for birdie and won for the first time since the Sunnehanna Amateur in
In a showdown between the reigning
and British Amateur champions, Ramsay defeated Guerrier of France, 2 and 1, in the
on March 28. The annual event pairs the two amateur champions at the Golf Club of
Georgia as a prelude to the Masters.
"I just managed to hit fairways and greens like I usually do," said Ramsay, who
became the first Scottish player to win the U.S. Amateur since 1898. "At the end
of the day a win is a win. I'm just happy to put my name on that trophy."
Stuart Hallis a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on www.usga.org.