Lewis first came to prominence in the 1980 U.S. Amateur by reaching the final, although losing to Hal Sutton by the overwhelming score of 9 and 8. He was selected for the 1981 Walker Cup Team that won over Great Britain and Ireland at the Cypress Point Club, in Pebble Beach, Calif., and he went to the semifinals of the 1981 Amateur, losing to Brian Lindley, who, in turn, lost to Nathaniel Crosby.
The caliber of the golf throughout the week was first class. Tom Reed, a tall, lean, 47-year-old insurance agent from Denver, Colo., played the first 14 holes of Bellerive in even par, and yet lost, 5 and 4, because Holtgrieve was 5 under par. Holtgrieve was 1 under par in each of his next two matches, defeating Tom Evans, of Lake Bluff, Ill., 3 and 1, and Randy Nichols, of Connersville, Ind., 6 and 5.
At the same time, Lewis was even par in defeating two-time U.S. Amateur champion Gary Cowan, of Ontario, Canada, 4 and 3, and Jim Beltz, of Southfield, Mich., 6 and 5. Lewis was 1 under par when he eliminated John Ruby, of Stratford, Conn., 3 and 1.
That brought him up against Bill Malley, of Hayward, Calif., in the quarterfinals. Malley, 27, with a flowing black moustache, long black hair, and arms like Popeye’s, dabbled in weight-lifting and bodybuilding, but now concentrates on golf. He was easily the most popular visiting player in the field (Holtgrieve carried the largest galleries), partly because he was such a friendly, outgoing person and partly because he hit the ball miles and miles.
The quarterfinal round was delayed by rain that made Bellerive unplayable early in the day. When it was finally begun, Lewis played the 17 holes of the match in 6 over par and Malley was 7 over. Lewis won, 1 up.
Holtgrieve, meanwhile, was 4 over in defeating Frandsen, 3 and 2. While it was commendable for Frandsen to have reached the quarterfinal round of a national championship, it could hardly be considered the highlight of his year. Frandsen had recently argued a case before the United States Supreme Court as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor put in her first day as a sitting justice.
Holtgrieve was 4 over par once again in the semifinals against Bob Housen, a financial planner from Brielle, on the New Jersey Shore, winning, 4 and 3.
At the same time, Lewis was playing marvelously steady golf against Gordon Brewer, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. Lewis won, 5 and 4, and was 2 under par.
The final was played later in the day, and Lewis kept up his steady play through the first nine. He was 1 under par and 1 up.
Holtgrieve went ahead on the par-3 16th when he got down in two from perhaps 70 feet and Lewis three-putted from 50 feet. They halved the 17th with par 5s, and then Holtgrieve played a wonderful shot to the 18th, a 446-yard par 4. His 7-iron stopped 10 feet from the hole, and he holed the putt for a birdie 3 to give him his 2-up margin.
Lewis seemed to be the steadier man from tee to green, but Holtgrieve’s superior work around the greens made the difference.
In 2015, at a reunion of Mid-Am champions, Holtgrieve said of his inaugural victory, “The 16th hole was the greatest two-putt I ever had in my life. And it came down to the 18th hole. There were probably 1,000 people there. Winning in front of friends of mine … it was special.”
“I was looking at the trophy at our reunion dinner, and it’s pretty neat to see your name first. I wish it had been up there more, but I’ll take one.”