SI Vault
Two the old-fashioned way
Barry McDermott
September 12, 1983
Jay Sigel, a latter-day Bobby Jones, won his second straight U.S. Amateur
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September 12, 1983

Two The Old-fashioned Way

Jay Sigel, a latter-day Bobby Jones, won his second straight U.S. Amateur

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As the tournament progressed, some of the best golf was played by Clark Burroughs, a brash kid from Tom Watson's neighborhood ( Overland Park, Kans.) who attends Jack Nicklaus' old school ( Ohio State), where he plays No. 2 behind Perry. Burroughs is tall (6'3") with a 30-inch waist and toothpick arms, but he led the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying on Tuesday and Wednesday with a 66-73—139 and then started knocking off opponents in match play. Upon meeting USGA Senior Executive Director Frank Hannigan, Burroughs blurted, "Always wanted to meet you, man. We got a guy named Hannigan back at the dorm and we nicknamed him Frank."

Both Sigel and Perry had rough trips to the finals. In his second-round match with George MacDonald of Virginia Beach, Va., Sigel was 3-down with four to play and wondering if he could make it back to the office by Friday. "I thought I was watching my own funeral," he said. But he birdied 15, 16 and 17, then sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death hole. The next afternoon, in the quarterfinals against Roy Bianacalana from Franklin Park, Ill., Sigel once more needed a 19th-hole birdie putt to win. After a good night's rest, Sigel dispatched Burroughs 3 and 2 in the Saturday semifinals after his young opponent, obviously tight, went 2-down after two holes.

Perry also became familiar with sudden victory. He qualified for match play in a playoff, and three times his matches went to the 19th hole, including his semifinal victory over Cliff Pierce of Lawton, Okla. He won on the first extra hole when Pierce drove into the trees, smacked lumber with his second shot and found a bunker with his third. With his determined demeanor and occasional outbursts, Perry cast himself as the tournament's villain. "I'm a fierce competitor," he said. "I give it 125 percent." He may have played like Nicklaus but his style was pure Woody Hayes. Perry yelled after good shots ("All Right! Yeah!") and once, when a drive headed for trouble, he screamed, "Hit a spectator," hoping for a good rebound.

People often ask Perry why he didn't become a pitcher like his father, who came to North Shore on Sunday, or his uncle, who was with the Kansas City Royals in Texas. Chris gave up baseball in the ninth grade, perhaps because Uncle Gaylord would not teach him how to throw the spitter. "I asked him once and he almost broke my arm," says Chris.

Unfortunately for Perry, on Sunday he was never in the ball game. He hit drives into the woods. He put iron shots into bunkers. He lipped putts. With that sort of stuff, he had no chance against Sigel, who doesn't let leads get away.

The U.S. Amateur was good enough for Bobby Jones, and it's good enough for Jay Sigel. Someone mentioned to Sigel late Sunday afternoon that he could become the only man in history to win the Amateur three straight years. Sigel's eyes brightened.

"I'm going to go home and start practicing," he said.

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