Fields' Day: S.P. Native Wins North & South
Everything about the way Jack Fields carried himself during the 111th Men’s North & South Amateur Championship on Pinehurst No. 2 — from his easygoing gait, to his steadily superb ball striking — signaled he was serious, confident and ready to take home the illustrious title.
The Southern Pines native was crowned the 2011 champion Saturday after claiming the final 36-hole match with a 5 and 4 victory to defeat No. 24 seed David Erdy, of Indiana University.
“It is a great honor,” said Fields. “I have always had a great deal of respect for this tournament and to win here this week obviously means a lot.
“It has not quite fully sunk in yet and is sort of hard to put into words exactly how I am feeling — I am just really excited right now and don’t know what else to say.”
With the victory, Fields became the first local golfer to win the venerated amateur championship since Pinehurst’s own Kelly Mitchum brought home the title in 1993.
After falling three down through the seventh hole of the championship match, Fields rallied with birdies on 9 and 10, cutting Erdy’s lead to 1 up.
“David played great early on,” said Fields. “He is a great ball striker and that put a lot of pressure on me at the start. Birdieing 9 and 10 was a big momentum shift for me. It gave me confidence to continue making more birdies.”
Fields closed Saturday’s morning session by sinking an amazing chip on the 18th.
The sensational shot sent him off to eat his lunch still trailing 1 down with 18 holes remaining in the match.
Meanwhile, Erdy spent most of the break at the range, something he admitted he rarely does.
“I think the momentum kind of swung before Jack’s chip-in,” said Erdy. “After the fourth or fifth hole, I didn’t really feel like I was hitting many quality shots.
“I did not even feel like I was swinging that well when I got out there today. Jack got off to a rough start, so I managed to hit some decent shots to get a lead but then lost my swing throughout the day. So I went out to the range to try and find my alignment a little bit and work it out.”
Erdy had four birdies in the morning round, three of which came in a five-hole stretch that saw him take victories on holes 3, 4 and 7. From there he had just one more birdie on the day. It came on the par-5, 16th hole, which he halved with Fields.
Over his final 15 holes, Erdy tallied five bogeys, including three out of the first four holes of the back nine during the afternoon round.
“I was in such a good mood and a good frame of mind the first couple of days,” he said, “and today I just kind of fell outside of that. I felt like I have been playing so great and was just letting it happen but the brain got in the way today.
“There was never any real pressure,” Erdy added. “That was not the problem — I was just trying to grind a little too much.
“That’s what I am going to take away from this week. I just tried a little too hard this final round.”
After the break, Fields wasted little time taking command of the contest.
A par on the 19th hole brought things to all square. He then birdied the 350-yard, par-4 20th hole to capture his first lead of the day at 1 up.
His lead moved to 2 up, on the 25th hole, when he delivered a dart — in the form of a 93-yard wedge shot approach — that landed inches from the cup for a conceded birdie on the 410-yard par 4.
Still sizzling, Fields rode the wave out on the next hole.
After stiffing a 7-iron approach shot from 187 yards, he drained the ensuing nine-foot birdie to take a commanding 3-up advantage.
Next, he gave a hole back, carding a double-bogey on the par-3 27th.
“After that,” Fields said, “I told my caddie, ‘We are going to make some pars and make David make birdies to get back in it.’ So in a way, the (double-bogey) did force me to refocus.”
Fields proceeded to claim three of the next four holes with pars, as his lead swelled to 5-up, with five to play.
He finished the match off by sinking a 12-footer for the championship.
“That final one for par was probably the best putt I hit all week,” said Fields.
Since leaving UNC-Chapel Hill, prior to his senior season, Fields has been playing solid golf. He collected a win at the 2011 Carolinas Open and finished runner-up in the 2011 North Carolina Open.
“I knew coming in to today that I had a great opportunity, and the way I’ve been playing it was going to be hard to beat me,” Fields said. “I was confident with the way I was hitting the ball and on Pinehurst No. 2 you have to be confident.”
The 2011 North & South Men’s Amateur was the first championship to be played on Pinehurst No. 2 since Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore completed a significant restoration that included the removal of 35 acres of turf, elimination of the rough and reintroduction of wire grass and natural sandy areas.
As its 111th amateur champion, Fields’ name will now be placed on the wall inside the clubhouse’s Hall of Champions, alongside such previous winners as Jack Nicklaus, Francis Ouimet, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Corey Pavin, Harvie Ward, Billy Joe Patton and Davis Love III.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
More like this story