Sixth and final in a series of daily first-person stories from the 36th Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.
By TONY LEODORA
Hail to the new champion.
Bill Welch, a 50-year-old government worker from Islip, Long Island is the new World Amateur Handicap Champion. He shot a net 3-under-par 69 to win the title in the 36th annual event in Myrtle Beach by one shot.
A 14.5 handicap golfer, who has played in all but a few World Ams since 2001, reached the final round for a second time. The first time was in 2009, when the final was played at the Dunes Club, and he called it “a disaster.”
Second time was a charm. On a wind-whipped Dye Course at Barefoot Resort, that produced high scores, Welch kept his game under control.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, but I guarantee you this is the highlight of my golf career,” said Welch, who plays most of his golf at the Bethpage complex on Long Island.
“I don’t play Bethpage Black too often because it is so difficult,” admitted Welch. “Mostly I play the other four courses.”
Welch proved he could handle the tough courses – not only the Dye course, but the other four courses in his rotation, World Tour, Carolina National, Wild Wing and Litchfield. The fact that he had played the Dye Course a few times in the past helped his confidence in the final.
“Playing a couple rounds before on the Dye was the key,” said Welch. “If you go into a course blind, you can struggle on it.”
Now his only struggles will be with the recognition back on Long Island. “I’m not much of a bragger,” concluded Welch. He can let his trophy do the bragging for him.