Lovemark Wins NCAA Men's Golf Individual Title
June 2, 2007
Freshman Jamie Lovemark fired his second consecutive 6-under 64 to erase a four-stroke deficit over the final nine holes and become the first USC men's golfer to win the NCAA individual championship in 26 years on Saturday (June 1) at the 2007 NCAA Championships final at the Golden Horseshoe G.C. in Williamsburg, Va.
Lovemark finished with a 9-under 271 (72-71-64-64) after posting his third 64 of the year, which was also his 21st round in the 60s this year and 13th in row of 72 or lower.
The last Trojan to win the NCAA individual title was Ron Commans in 1981. The only other USC men's golfer to do it was Scott Simpson, who won back-to-back titles in 1976 and 1977.
'He knew where things were today and his focus level and ability to get it done when he needed it most was commendable,' USC Director of Golf Kurt Schuette said. 'It's something he has been doing all year. He went out with the same intensity he has all season to represent himself and the program and did a phenomenal job.
'He didn't hit it as straight today, but made some amazing shots from the rough and sunk some incredible putts.'
Lovemark became just the eighth freshman to win the NCAA individual title and second in a row after Oklahoma State's Jonathan Moore did it last year. Other freshmen to do it include Arizona Staste's Alejandro Canizares (2003) and Phil Mickelson (1989), Minnesota's James McLean (1998), Houston's Billy Ray Brown (1982), Wake Forest's Curtis Strange (1974) and Texas' Ben Crenshaw (1971).
Lovemark, who entered the championships ranked No. 1 in the country by Golfweek.com, is also the 10th Pac-10 player to win an NCAA title. Only ASU (four) has more individual title winners than USC's three.
The No. 5 Trojans were eliminated from the team competition after the third round on Friday, but Lovemark's teammates remained to cheer on their teammate from Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.
While Stanford ran away with the team competition, attention on the course to turned to the much tighter battle for the individual title.
Lovemark began the day tied for 11th, three strokes back of Clemson's Kyle Stanley, Stanford's Rob Grube and Georgia Tech's Cameron Tringale. Stanley got off to a quick start with a 4-under on the front 9, one better than Lovemark through nine holes, to open a four-shot lead. Meanwhile, Tringale and others in the title mix slowly fell by the way side. Grube remained in the hunt after starting play almost two hours after Lovemark
Lovemark was about three holes ahead of Stanley and started to put pressure on the Tiger on the back 9. He birdied the 11th hole and bogeyed the 13th to remain 6 under, but a Stanley bogey on 12 reduced his lead to two strokes.
Lovemark caught fire starting on the 15th hole despite sending his second shot into the bushes 80 yards shy of the pin. He snuck his third shot through a small opening in the trees and sent it to within 30 inches of the hole. He then easily made the first of three consecutive birdies.
He next nailed a 16-footer on 16 and then properly gauged a downhill, right-to-left seven-foot putt on the 17th hole to go to 9 under.
While Lovemark heated up, Stanley bogeyed the 14th hole to fall to 8 under. With Lovemark now watching from the clubhouse, Stanley needed a birdie on the 18th hole to tie the USC freshman, but bogeyed instead.
Lovemark then had to watch Grube finish his round. The Cardinal got to within two shots with a birdie on 13, but that's where he stayed over the next four holes. He needed to sink his approach shot for an eagle on 18 to force a playoff, but when it didn't find the hole, Lovemark clinched the title.
Lovemark's title was his fourth of the year and first since winning the 2007 Pac-10 title. USC posted five individual titles on the season, including freshman Rory Hie's win at the USC Collegiate Individual.
Lovemark finished the season with eight top 3 finishes.
USC has also won three individual NCAA titles in women's golf, most recently by current junior Dewi Claire Schreefel, who won it last season (2006).