March 31, 2003
UCLA freshman golfer Spencer Levin won the Azalea Invitational title over the weekend at the Coutnry Club of Charleston in Charleston, SC.
Levin, who completed the Winter Quarter at UCLA on Mar. 14, won the event with scores of 65-67-68-75-275, nine-under par. He defeated Casey Wittenberg, who won the event in 2001, by five shots. William McGirt of Fairmont, NC and Bill Sharpe of Edmond, OK, tied for third place eight shots back.
Levin led wire-to-wire and boasted a seven-shot lead entering the final round. Cold, wet weather produced higher scores in the final round, but Levin's lead proved too much to overcome.
"I knew it was going to be tough, but I hung in there," said Levin, who was a quarterfinalist in last summer's U.S. Amateur. "Casey played pretty good. He just had the one bad hole."
Wittenberg nipped Levin's lead to four shots after 13 holes by playing par golf, while Levin bogeyed holes 1, 8 and 12. A double bogey by Wittenberg at 14 gave Levin a six-shot advantage.
"I think what happened to Casey on 14 influenced me. In my backswing, I thought 'Don't hit it long' because I knew [going] over the green was [trouble]. After that I had a six-shot lead. I didn't make any birdies today, but I did what I had to do."
Key up-and-downs on holes 7 and 10 helped Levin maintain a cushion and kept the pressure on Wittenberg.
"We're certainly proud of Spencer," said UCLA Head Coach O.D. Vincent. "This victory will help him in the Walker Cup standings and in the national amateur rankings. His victory also ranks as one of the best amateur performances in UCLA history."