VALENCIA, Calif. (April 15, 2014) -- Ramie Sprinkling kept making shots when he needed to. A beautiful up and down on the 14th hole. A clutch par save on No. 15. A perfect birdie on hole 16. And it turned out to be enough.
On Tuesday at Valencia CC, Sprinkling won his first SCGA championship, edging out veteran Tim Hogarth by one stroke to win the 31st SCGA Mid-Amateur title. With the two men far in front of the rest of the field, much of Round 3's action was a two-person race, with Sprinkling and Hogarth exchanging leads throughout the final nine holes. Nursing a one-stroke advantage through 16 holes, back-to-back pars to finish his round proved to be enough for Sprinkling, a UC Davis graduate, as Hogarth bogeyed 17 and birdied 18 to fall just short of forcing a tie-breaker. Hogarth was attempting to win his record sixth SCGA Mid-Am title.
The round got off to an interesting start Tuesday morning, as Hogarth was given a two-stroke penalty on the first hole for having too many clubs in his golf cart. Already beginning the round down one, Hogarth found himself in a bigger hole than expected before reaching the first green. SCGA Rules Officials were on hand to discuss the situation with Hogarth, but Sprinkling just tried to make sure the delay didn't disrupt his own game plan.
"It was unfortunate something like that happened. It's certainly a ticky-tack rule," said Sprinkling. "I was just reminded by my caddie not to let the situation distract me from my own game, and luckily I was able to stay focused."
But Hogarth was able to shake off the penalty and fight his way back, tying Sprinkling atop the leaderboard with a birdie on the par 4, 11th hole. But a blemish by Hogarth on No. 13 put Sprinkling back in the driver's seat, when he really started to make shots when they counted most, highlighted by a near hole-in-one on the par 3 16th hole, where he left his tee shot just two feet from the hole.
But the drama lasted until the final putt dropped. On the 17th hole, Hogarth missed a two-foot putt for par, a rarity for the man who has won more SCGA individual titles than anyone else in the past 15 years. The blunder put the veteran down two strokes headed into the final hole, but he wasn't through. He snaked in a 10-foot birdie putt on 18 to put the pressure back on Sprinkling, but the eventual champion calmly stepped up to his three-footer and drained the par putt for the win.
"I sort of knew Tim was going to make that putt on 18, so I knew I needed to two-putt," said Sprinkling. "It's an incredible feeling to compete like that and pull out the victory."
Sprinkling's tournament got off to a bit of a rocky start, as the Camarillo resident carded a first-round score of 4-over-par 76 Monday morning in Round 1. But he followed that up with the low round of the event, an impressive 5-under-par 67 Monday afternoon to end Day 1 in solo possession of the lead. Valencia CC played tough all week, with only four rounds of under par being shot during the 54-hole event that included 84 players on Day 1, and 42 after the cut.
Ryan Dwight of Costa Mesa shot the only under-par round Tuesday, posting rounds of 77-73-71 to finish the tournament in a tie for third. Matching Dwight at 5-over-par for T3 was Dick Engel of Lancaster, Jerry Chang of Los Angeles and Mark Scheibach of La Quinta. The top five finishers all earn exemptions into the 2014 SCGA Amateur Championship, which will be held July 11-13 at Rancho Santa Fe GC. By way of his victory, Sprinkling also earn an exemption into the 2014 California Amateur Championship, which will occur June 16-21 at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.