Dave Womack, 27, of McDonough, Ga., made a 5-foot par putt on the last hole of the scheduled 36-hole final Thursday to win the 26th U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, 1 up, over Ryan Hybl, 25, of Winterville, Ga., at Forest Highlands Golf Club.
“Words can’t explain it,” said Womack. “I am so thrilled. I did not expect this at all. It’s amazing.”
It is the first national championship for Womack, and means a likely trip to play in the Masters Tournament next April. For the Georgia-born, Georgia-schooled insurance agent, it’s a dream come true.
“It hasn’t sunk in,” said Womack, a 2001 Georgia State University graduate. “It is just unbelievable. I’ve always dreamed about going over there and playing.”
Womack won the first two holes in the morning round and never trailed. He held a 2-up advantage at the midday break between rounds. He built the lead to 3 up when Hybl bogeyed the first hole of the second round. But birdies on the 20th and 22nd holes helped Hybl cut the deficit to 1 down.
The turning point came on the par-5, 539-yard 13th hole, the 31st of the match. Womack, holding a 1-up advantage, hit his tee shot into the right-hand hazard. Hybl, whose tee shot entered the rough, hit his second shot right and short of the green. He failed to advance the ball with his next shot, thanks to his ball being buried in the thick rough.
Hybl then took a drop from the hazard and chipped his fifth shot to within a foot of the hole for a conceded bogey.
Womack, after hitting his third shot to the front of the green, was able to get up and down for par and won the hole.
“I go from thinking I was getting all square to going 2 down and that just deflated me,” said Hybl, the assistant golf coach at the University of Georgia, his alma mater. “But I had a chance on 18 and I just didn’t execute.”
Hybl did get one back when Womack three-putted the par-4 16th hole. On the par-5, 600-yard 18th hole, the 36th of the match, Hybl went for the green in two. From 275 yards out, he reached the fringe right of the
green, and chipped down to 8 feet. His birdie putt slid by the hole and when Womack made his 5-footer for par, he had the 1-up victory.
In the 36 hole-final, Womack played the equivalent of three under par, counting the usual concessions for match play, with six birdies and three bogeys. Hybl finished at two under, with seven birdies and five bogeys.
Womack and Hybl have known each other since their junior golf days. It was the second time two players from the same state met in the final of the Mid-Amateur Championship. Pennsylvanians Jay Sigel and O. Gordon Brewer met in the 1985 Mid-Am final, with Sigel prevailing.
“I’m glad the trophy is going back to Georgia,” said Hybl. “I’m disappointed I didn’t win, but I’m super happy for Dave.”
The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.