The last two men left standing at the North & South Amateur on Saturday afternoon each has a certain history at Pinehurst. William Holcomb V produces magic there, having played his way into the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals at Pinehurst No. 2 less than a year ago. Tyler Strafaci, on the other hand, had another chapter of family history to write.
In the end, the iconic Putter Boy trophy went to Strafaci, a 21-year-old who recently finished his fourth year at Georgia Tech. By winning the long-running amateur event, he and grandfather Frank Strafaci become the first grandfather-grandson duo to pull off such a feat. Both men now have the honor of having their name in clubhouse history hall. They’ll both have a locker, too.
Scores: North & South Amateur
“I first came to Pinehurst when I was a little kid, and mom and dad and would always tell me what my grandfather thought of Pinehurst,” Strafaci told Pinehurst writer Alex Podlogar. “The first thing we would do, my dad would walk me into the locker room and we’d find Grandpa’s locker. We’d sit in there and look at all of the names.
“I never thought that this day would ever come.”
Frank Strafaci, an accomplished amateur from New York, won the North & South Amateur in 1938 and 1939. It was the same decade he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links (1935) and was ninth at the U.S. Open (1937). He was a multiple-time champion of the Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur and Long Island Amateur, too.
Tyler Strafaci, who grew up in Davie, Florida, never met his grandfather, who passed away in 1988, 10 years before he was born.
At last year’s North & South, Strafaci missed the cut. He didn’t qualify for the U.S. Amateur when it came to Pinehurst later in the summer. Two years ago, he only made it as far as the first round of match play here. In his senior season at Georgia Tech, however, Strafaci recorded three top-6 finishes, including a runner-up at the Carpet Capital Collegiate.
Strafaci’s father Frank Jr., was on the bag this week at Pinehurst. He helped guide his son through a gauntlet of the nation’s best amateurs, from Oklahoma transfer Jonathan Brightwell to Pepperdine standout Joe Highsmith to Jonathan Yaun – maybe the hottest man going early week after a 9-and-8 victory in the second round – and eventually to the final match against Holcomb.
Strafaci had five birdies in a championship match that was tight all day. The final one came at the par-3 17th, when Strafaci already had a 2-up lead. He hit a high, drawing iron shot to inside 4 feet and made it for the victory.
As for Holcomb, a loss in the final doesn’t lessen his affection for the place.
“It was a great match, and hats off to Tyler,” Holcomb told Pinehurst. “I’m pretty frustrated because I feel like I gave away a few shots, but heck, what did Tyler have? Five, six, seven birdies on No. 2, one of the hardest golf courses in the world? He played great.”