Robert Mieczkowski wins 29th annual GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship
Mieczkowski, an 11-handicap, shot a gross 76 and a net 65 to capture the 29th annual GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship. He beat out 74 other flight winners, including Roger Clemens, who was in contention until a late double bogey ended his chances.
For Mieczkowski (pictured on the left), it was by far the biggest win he's ever had on the links.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "It goes to show you anyone can win."
A total of 3,091 players from 49 states and 25 countries competed for four days in their respective flights. The winners of each flight teed it up Friday at TPC Myrtle Beach to crown a champion. Among those was Clemens. Last week he pitched for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent minor-league team, but this week he was just another amateur golfer having fun in Myrtle Beach.
"I think it's good competitive golf," Clemens said after his round. "With everyone's handicap in play, it makes if fair for everybody."
Mieczkowski, a ship supervisor at an oil storage plant in Old Bridge, N.J., was proof of that. With a bunch of his friends from Jersey cheering him on, Mieczkowski just tried to relax and enjoy yet another round of golf. But after firing a net 31 on his opening nine, he started to realize he might have a chance of winning.
When a tournament organizer showed up on the 17th tee with a video camera, Mieczkowski really started to feel the pressure. To break the tension, he was assured it was a "good luck camera," but that was little comfort.
"On the last three holes, I've never felt that kind of pressure," he said.
And it showed. He shanked his second shot on the par-4 8th (his 17th hole), and it led to a double bogey. But Mieczkowski held it together and got up-and-down for a par, net birdie, on the final hole to secure the win by one shot over Frank Payne of Aynor, S.C.
Mieczkowski, who was playing in the World Am for the seventh year in a row, credited his good play this year to playing a lot of golf leading into the event. He owns a condo in Myrtle Beach, and after a stressful few weeks at work, he came down on Aug. 19 and played nearly every day before the World Am.
After collecting his trophy and posing for photographs, Mieczkowski was off to celebrate his big win.
"We're going to grab some wings at Hooters, and we'll see what happens from there," he said.