Savage 'Enjoys Every Minute' of N-S Win
Entering the 108th Mens North and South Amateur Matt Savage's match play strategy was simple: Hurry up and get it over with.
Sunday, patience was Savage's biggest virtue in his epic 40-hole victory over medalist Jamie Lovemark.
Savage's 4-foot birdie put on the fourth hole at Pinehurst No. 2 positioned him for the win, and when Lovemark's birdie attempt from inside 10 feet was short of the hole, Savage claimed the championship and the coveted Putter Boy trophy.
"I always had this mentality in match play of trying to get it over as fast as I could," Savage said. "For some reason that's how I felt like I had to win every hole.
"This week I tried to hit good shots and not give them (opponents) holes and having a chance to win every hole. I ended up playing a lot better and getting matches over quicker."
Sunday Savage and Lovemark dueled for nearly seven hours.
Lovemark forced extra holes with a birdie on the final hole of regulation, the Par 4 18th.
When the match went to extra holes, Savage said he knew longer it progressed, the slimmer his chances.
"I was worried once we got past (hole) No. 2," Savage said. "He was guaranteed birdies on (hole Nos.) three and four, or at leat I thought, and once we got to (holes) four, five and six I was just hoping to hold on for dear life."
The two golfers halved each of the first three extra holes and headed to the Par 4 fourth.
Earlier in the round Lovemark overcame a 4-down hole by winning holes Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 to even the 36-hole match after 25 holes.
"I definitely didn't want to get back to No. 5," Savage said. I haven't played that hole very well."
On the 568-yard par 5 fourth hole both players drove their tee shots into the fairway. Savage, worried he couldn't reach the green in two shots like his opponent had twice earlier in the match, pulled a 3-wood from his bag and let rip. He blistered a 270-yard shot to the front edge of the green, about 45 feet from the hole. His eagle putt rolled to within six feet. He birdied and then had to sweat out Lovemark's birdie attempt.
"I was really surprised Jamie missed his (birdie)," Savage said. "After the puts he made on 18 and 2 I was like he's going to make this one."
Lovemark 's 16-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole squared the match and forced extra holes. On the 38th hole the rising junior at University of Southern California, knocked home a testy 14-footer for par to halve the hole.
Savage took a three-up lead midway through the morning 18, winning the 8th, 9th and 10th holes.
Lovemark trimmed the margin to one by winning the 12th and 13th before Savage won 15 and 17 to take a 3-up advantage into the afternoon round.
Lovemark won the opening hole of the afternoon round to move to 2 down, but Savage won the next two holes to take a 4-up lead into No. 5.
Late in the match Savage twice held a 1-up advantage. A birdie putt on the par 4 12th gave Savage the lead until Lovemark earned a birdie on the par 4 14th. The tie was short-lived as Savage answered with a short birdie put on the par 3 15th.
He carried the lead to the 18th tee. Both players drove their tee shots left of the fairway. Savage's shot went left of the cart path and settled softly in pinestraw. His second shot soared out the pinestraw, around several trees and land off the back right of the green.
Lovemark's second shot landed softly on the green about 12 feet from the pin.
Savage's chip went wide of the hole and Lovemark buried his birdie putt to square the match and force extra holes.
Savage said after the match that nerves may have gotten the better of him on the 18th.
"I hadn't hooked a drive all week," he said. "But it is what it is. I hit some squirrelly shots on 17 and 18 but then on 18 I made the (par) put and made him have to make his."
The only time Savage trailed the match was when Lovemark chipped in for birdie on the opening hole of the 36-hole final.
After the win, Savage praised the course, its history and his opponent and said he "enjoyed every minute" of his first North and South.
"I haven't had this much fun on a golf course in a long time," Savage said.
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