By STEVE WILLIAMS
A victory in The Cardinal Amateur was just what Justin Clement needed as he continues to prepare for a shot at professional golf in 2013.
Clement finished at the top of a strong field Aug. 12 at the Cardinal, regarded nationwide as one of the major amateur events on the summer schedule.
“There were a ton of great college golfers out there,” Clement said. “I don’t play college golf any more but to know that I’m able to compete with them is big as a confidence booster going into the spring where I hope to turn pro.”
Clement, who played two seasons at UNC Greensboro after a great prep career at West Davidson, shot 71-67-70 at the par-70 Greensboro layout and held off Scott Harvey, the state’s No. 1 ranked amateur from Greensboro, by one shot. Harvey shot 69-70-70.
Davis Womble, a freshman at Wake Forest, led after two rounds but settled for third at 69-66-75.
Clement entered the final day in fourth place, three shots back of Womble. He had vaulted into contention with a 67 in the second round.
“I think I hit maybe six greens in the first round but my short game saved me,” Clement said. “I went to the range a little early (prior to the second round) and got something to click. I couldn’t miss a shot and I was making everything I looked at.”
In the third round, playing in the threesome behind the leaders, Harvey made the early move with birdies on the first two holes and turned the front nine in 33. Clement shot even par on that side.
Womble got off to a good start and was 1 under through four. But he suffered back-to-back double bogeys at the par-4 fifth and sixth holes and was unable to recapture his form of the first two rounds.
“The course was playing long and wet and I knew pars were good for the most part,” Clement said.
Clement scored his lone birdie at the 10th hole and added seven more pars before a bogey at the 18th.
“I got caught up in the lip of a fairway bunker and wasn’t able to advance it but a few yards. I had a two-shot lead going into 18 so I was just hoping to salvage a bogey.”
Avoiding what looked like a sure bogey two holes earlier at the par-3 16th was the key to the win.
Harvey, who had bogeyed the 14th to give Clement a one-shot margin, had a putt to save par at 16 but his 25-footer burned the lip, leaving him two shots back.
Harvey added the Cardinal runner-up finish to his list of close calls in recent months. He captured the Carolinas Mid-Amateur title in April but has endured a long list of close finishes the rest of the year: runner-up in the N.C. Amateur Match Play Championship earlier in August, tied for third in the N.C. Amateur, runner-up in the Rice Planters Amateur, runner up in the Carolinas Amateur and third in the North Carolina Open.
Clement doesn’t have any more tournaments on his schedule. Instead, he plans to work on his game at Sapona Ridge Country Club, his home course in Lexington.