The anniversary passed with no fanfare. But that’s Mark Plummer. For Plummer, a fist pump after a making a tough putt is a sign of euphoria.

Plummer remembered, though, and at most, he celebrated the occasion with a smile.

“It’s all good thoughts. It doesn’t seem like it was 20 years ago. I have fond memories, all good memories,” Plummer said.

Twenty years ago, on August 26, 1995, Plummer played the most famous golf match of his life, and captured national attention when he took Tiger Woods 18 holes in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Championship at Newport (R.I.) Country Club.

Woods was 19 and about to enter his sophomore year at Stanford University. He wasn’t yet the golf superstar who would chase Jack Nicklaus’ record for major wins, but he already was the darling of the golf world, and fans couldn’t wait for him to go pro in a few years. The amateur title was supposed to be a formaility, another step on the road to greatness.

Plummer was 43, and was already the best amateur golf in Maine history. Plummer had won his eigth Maine Amateur title the year before. He’d win his ninth and tenth Maine Amateurs in ’96 and ’97, on his way to the record 13 titles he now holds.

Woods won the match with Plummer, two up. At the time, Plummer described himself as the happiest loser you’ll ever look at. Two decades later, that’s still how Plummer looks at the match.

“Looking back, I can’t believe how relaxed I was,” Plummer said. “For some reason, I was very calm and just enjoying it. Maybe it was my time.”

Plummer defeated a golfer named Matthew Goggin, 2 and 1 in the third round, to set up the match with Woods. Through 13 holes, Plummer and Woods were even.

“I got to thinking, I could actually win this,” Plummer said.

Woods went 1 up on hole 14 when Plummer missed the green. When Plummer had a bad drive on hole 15, Woods went 2 up. Plummer won hole 16 to pull within one, but missed a 10-foot putt for par, and Woods won the match. The next day, Plummer watched a tape of the match, and couldn’t believe how well he played.

Even now, the Woods match comes up all the time, Plummer said, no matter where he is.

“I run into people all the time who say ‘I saw you when you played Tiger Woods.'” Plummer said. “I was in Florida and I guy walked up to me and said it.”

With Woods’ struggles this year, those who mention the match to Plummer often quip that he should ask for a rematch. Maybe now, Plummer would beat Tiger.

“I hear that a lot, too,” Plummer said.

After he played with Plummer in the final round of the Maine Am at Waterville Country Club in July, winner Johnny Hayes remembered being a child and watching Plummer’s match with Woods. The match has become part of the Plummer mystique. How many golfers in the last 20 years have stepped to the tee to take on Plummer and thought, if he can go toe to toe with Tiger Woods for 18 holes, what is he going to do to me?

The match against Woods wasn’t Plummer’s first competition against future PGA talent. In 1976, Plummer went to North Carolina and played in the North and South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst No. 2. There, Plummer beat Scott Hoch and Vance Heafner, who each went on to win on the PGA tour, before losing to Curtis Strange. That event was nothing like the 1995 U.S. Amateur Championship, though.

“It’s the equivalent of boxing (Muhammad) Ali. (Woods) is argubaly the best golfer who ever lived,” Plummer said. “To say I took him 18 holes is pretty neat.”

Twenty years later, and the story never gets old.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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