You Do Know, Jack
Jack Newman Of Iowa Found The 18th Hole To Be An Eventful Place Throughout This Year's APL2008 Championship Annual: The Year In Review
By Pete Kowalski, USGA
Jack Newman is the proud possessor of the flag from the flagstick on the 15th hole at Murphy Creek Golf Course. It was given to the native of Des Moines, Iowa, at the awards ceremony to mark where the lanky 20-year-old closed out John Chin, 5 and 3, to win this year's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
However, were one to review the events that took place at the 18th hole of this links-style layout on the Colorado plains, right before the halfway mark of the 36-hole final, one would discover that this was the most crucial hole to Newman. What transpired here maintained a lead that Newman would not relinquish.
Chin, a left-hander from Temecula, Calif., appeared to have won the 18th hole — which would have made the match all square — after hitting his approach shot on the par 4 to 3 feet. Newman hit his to 20 feet but drained the birdie. Chin coolly halved the hole with his 3-footer.
So no blood — but a big impact, Newman said later. "Making that putt was pivotal because it kept my spirits up," he said. "It was big for my mindset because I kept the lead. At that point, I had birdied four of the last five holes and that felt really good."
The importance of the putt grows because Chin, the 2008 Big West Player of the Year at the University of California, Irvine, had not trailed in a match since the first round. "So my brother Andy said 'Try to rain on his parade,' " Newman said. "So it was just all or nothing on that, and I got lucky it [the putt on 18] went in."
It wasn't the only "moment" to have taken place on 18. Newman twice missed match-winning putts on the hole prior to his birdie in the final.
In the second round, he lipped out a 3-foot putt that extended his match with Billy Horschel of Gainesville, Fla. Newman prevailed in 21 holes, however.
Then, in the quarterfinals, Newman missed a 4-footer for par to give 2007 semifinalist Corey Nagy, of Charlotte, N.C., a new life. This time it took six more holes for Newman to advance.
Still, it wasn't just his play on the 18th hole that earned Newman the James D. Standish Jr. Cup. Solid putting and a deft short game put him at the stroke-play equivalent of 4-under-par in the morning 18 of the final — a round that included six birdies. In the afternoon, he
was one under with three birdies. He was the equivalent of 5-under-par for 33 holes.
In the morning, Newman overcame an early two-hole deficit after the fourth hole to go 1 up. It was a back-and-forth affair before lunch, the lead changing hands three times.
In the afternoon 18, Newman, the No. 2 player on the Michigan State University team, gained control of the match by winning the ninth, 10th and 11th holes with pars. That put him 4 up.
"I'm a true believer in some things just not happening," said Chin, a two-time All-Big West first-team choice. "Numbers 9, 10 and 11 told me it just wasn't my day. Jack played well. No doubt about it. But it just wasn't my day."
It was the par-5 15th hole that was Chin's undoing. The longer driver of the two, Chin hit his tee shot into a lateral water hazard on the right after Newman had driven in the fairway. Newman played it safe and laid up short of the green on his second shot, then hit his third shot to 27 feet. Chin, meanwhile, did not reach the green until his fifth shot, and then missed a 30-foot putt from the fringe. With that he conceded Newman's birdie and the match.
This was one contest that didn't reach 18. Pete Kowalski is the USGA's manager of Media Relations.This article first appeared in the 2008 Championship Annual, a special publication mailed to USGA Members in November.