Media previews Point O' Woods ahead of 2019 championship
By MATT HARNESS
Benton Harbor, Mich. (June 27, 2019) – Before he was a champion on the PGA TOUR, Chris DiMarco won the 1988 Western Amateur at Point O’ Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich.
It was more than a first-place finish. The victory proved to a 19-year-old DiMarco that he was good enough to compete against some of the best players in the world.
“I think winning this gave me the belief, ‘Wow, maybe I can do this as a career,’ ” he said.
DiMarco was the guest speaker at a pre-tournament media conference at The Point on Wednesday. The Western Amateur will return to its longtime home July 29-August 3 for a record 41st time and first since 2008.
DiMarco finished 13th after stroke play in 1988 to make the Sweet 16. Richard Williams nearly knocked him out in the match play semifinals, going 4 up with six to play. But DiMarco was able to rally for a 1-up win and beat Bill Lundeen 1 up in the final.
“There are a couple [championships] that rival the [Western Amateur],” DiMarco said. “The U.S. Amateur, the British Amateur – those are the three tournaments I think that an amateur player strives to win. The three majors of amateur golf.”
Following an All-America career at the University of Florida, where he earned SEC Player of the Year honors in 1990, DiMarco turned pro and won seven times, including three tournaments on the PGA TOUR. He made two U.S. Ryder Cup teams. He might be best known for finishing second to Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters after losing in a sudden-death playoff.
He talked about his experiences at Point O’ Woods, the Robert Trent Jones design that opened in 1958 and is ranked as one of the country’s top courses. The Point hosted its first Western Amateur in 1963, with Tom Weiskopf winning.
In 1971, the club started its run of hosting 38 consecutive tournaments. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Justin Leonard all won at The Point.
“This was the highlight of my amateur career,” DiMarco said. “To be back here where it happened gives me goosebumps.”
Among the players in this year’s field are defending champion Cole Hammer, of Houston, Texas, and 2018 semifinalist Brandon Wu, of Scarsdale, New York. Wu helped Stanford win the NCAA Division I national championship in May. Another notable is former Western Junior winner Chun An Yu, of Taoyuan, Taiwan. Wu and Yu both played at this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
The Western Amateur, the third oldest amateur tournament in the world, will be played at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., in 2020.