John Fought accomplished something in golf last year Jack Nicklaus could not. Fought won a major championship, the U.S. Amateur.
The Golden Bear's honey was bittersweet, with much cash but no major, the only type of title the 38-year-old walking conglomerate covets these days.
Yes, the U.S. Amateur, beginning Tuesday at the difficult Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club, is a major. Of Nicklaus' record 17 major titles, two are U.S. Amateurs. The remainder are of the familiar big four variety: five Masters, four PGAs, three U.S. Opens and three British Opens.
Fought will not defend this year in Plainfield, having turned pro. The faorate, although upsets are common in the match-play event, is Bobby Clampett of Carmel, Calif. The little Brigham Young University golfer was easily the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills and won the Western Amateur and Porter Cup.
Four Columbia Country Club golfers, the most from one club ever to qualify for the Amateur, are in the field of 201. They are local medalist Henri deLozier, Marty West, Perky Cullinane and Tony Ciconte.
Wayne DeFrancesco, District of Columbia Amateur champ out of Lakewood and Pinecrest, and Howard Jones of Hobbit's Glen, in Columbia, Md., are the remaining Washington area competitors. Jerry McFerren, formerly of Crofton and now living in Phoenix, Ariz. also qualified.
In a blind draw, deLozier, Cullinane and Jones received three of the 55 first-round byes. Doug Fischesser of Connersville, Ind., who lost to Fought in last year's final, also has a bye.
In Tuesday's opening matchs, West goes against Mike Hughett of Lincoln, Neb.. Ciconte confronts Kent Stauffer of Marshburg. Pa., DeFrancesco faces Steve Waugh of Vidalia, Ga., and Clampett tests Mike Keliher of Nashville, Tenn. The tournament concludes one week from today.
"Looks like all the birdies have flown south," was the way one member of the gallery put it on the final day of the Middle Atlantic Open at Hobbit's Glen in Columbia, Md.
The main reason for the lack of low numbers was the tough Hobbit's course, about 7,200 yards with tees stretched back, and made more difficult because of macabre pin placements.
Hobbit's Glen is as formidable a test as any course in this section.
Louis Zibelli's hole in one at RedGate was not the purest ever made, but he'll take it.
Zibelli's three-wood on the 200-yard 17th hit the cart path on the side of the green and took a crazy bounce onto the green and into the hole.
It was the retired builder's first ace.
Defending champ Mac Main of Farmville, Va., Mark Alwin, recent Middle Atlantic Open titlist, Tom Smack and Larry Ringer head a field of 90 pros shooting for $18,550 in prize money in the Middle Atlantic PGA championship starting tomorrow at Ivy Hill in Forest, Va., near Lynchburg.
The public Paint Branch course on University Boulevard in College Park needs entries in all divisions for its Labor Day weekend tournament, contact the pro shop.
Lee Elder hopped from 20th to 10th position on the PGA money list following his biggest win ever in the Westchester Classic. Elder won $60,000 and improved his 1978 earnings to $146,348.
Added to his earlier Milwaukee Open win, the Westchester qualified the Northwest Washington golfer for the World Series at Firestone in late September, and made him a prime candidate for the Ryder Cup team, which plays the British pros next autumn at White Sulpher Springs, W. Va. No black golfer previously has made the field for either.