Jay Sigel, a 38-year-old veteran with a houseful of golf trophies, was nervous reaching the final round of the 82nd U.S. Amateur for the first time in 16 appearances.
But he conquered his nerves and won the national championship with an 8-and-7 victory over David Tolley, 22, who had upset four others en route to the final round.
"I wanted the championship so badly, never having made the finals before, that I was nearly sick to my stomach," Sigel said. "This week, everything fell into place. Winning the national amateur, I may retire and take up fishing -- but I don't think so."
Sigel, a Philadelphia insurance man who won the British Amateur in 1979, settled down after a shaky start and took command on the 10th hole of the scheduled 36-hole round at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. He played the last 21 holes in two under par.
"To win your country's national championship -- not demeaning the British Amateur -- is the greatest thrill of my life in sports," Sigel said. "I apologize for not being able to describe how I feel. It's really unbelievable. To make the finals is something. To win really blows your mind."
The best Sigel had done in this tournament before was to reach the semifinals in 1977.
"I sank a four-foot putt for a birdie (on No. 10) and that seemed to turn things around," Sigel said. "Until then, I really wasn't playing defensively. I was just playing lousy. Then I got things going. David didn't have a good day, but he hung in there. He's a better player than he showed today."
In the long run, experience paid off for Sigel, an 11-time Pennsylvania amateur champion with a 9-0 record in Walker Cup matches since 1977.