SCGA Amateur: McGihon Wins his Third

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (July 9, 2006) -- The champagne was already on ice, the engraver was at work on the trophy and the celebration was ready to begin as Scott McGihon stood on the 17th tee at Bakersfield Country Club with a three-shot lead, ready to take a victory walk en route to an historic third SCGA Amateur title. Nearly an hour later, McGihon had survived a bogey-double bogey finish and edged UC Irvine student Brian Edick of Valencia and 15-year-old Bakersfield High School student Phavik Patel by one shot to capture the 107th edition of the nation's second-oldest, continuously contested amateur golf championship.

Scott McGihon captured the 107th SCGA Amateur Championship today at Bakersfield CC for his third SCGA Amateur title. Photo by Katie Denbo/SCGA

The 38-year-old McGihon -- a middle school teacher and high school golf coach -- became the seventh golfer to win three or more SCGA Amateur titles and the sixth to win back-to-back crowns. In 1992, Craig Steinberg followed up his victory the year before at Fairbanks Ranch CC by capturing the third of four titles at Bel-Air CC; it was the last time anyone had successfully defending his title before today. McGihon also won the 2000 playing of the championship at Rancho Santa Fe GC.

McGihon finished with a 2-under-par 70 today and a four-round total of 282, 6 under par. He finished a shot in front of Patel, who had a 1-under-par 71 today, and Edick, who closed with an even-par 72. Both Patel and Edick missed par putts on the closing hole that would have forced a three-hole playoff. Patel was bidding to become the youngest winner in the history of the event, whose champions' list is a plethora of legendary golfers that includes Tiger Woods. Edick also finished a shot behind McGihon in last year's SCGA Amateur at Tijeras Creek GC.

Blake Trimble of Rancho Santa Fe and reigning Trans-Mississippi Mid-Amateur champion David Bartman of Los Angeles were another shot back today at 284. Trimble, a rising sophomore at UNLV, birdied three of his first 11 holes and had a three-lead on the back nine, but had two bogies and a double bogey in his closing stretch and failed to make better than par 5 on the 15th hole, which would prove to be a turning point.

McGihon began the day a shot behind Trimble and Edick but leap-frogged into the lead when he holed an 80-yard sand wedge approach shot for an eagle 2 on the seventh hole (it was the second eagle on that hole during the day; the other was by 2005 California Amateur champion Don DuBois of Newport Beach).

"Before I teed off on No. 7," related McGihon later, "[John] Pate and DuBois came by and John said, 'Look at this card: birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie.' I hit driver right down the middle and saw where the pin was and said, 'Hit it long and right.' I have no idea what Don did but I imagined that was the shot because there was a ridge so you could feed it right back to the hole and it disappeared. I hit it exactly the way I wanted to.

As is often the case, the tournament turned on the back nine. On the 517-yard 11th hole, McGihon's second shot ended up underneath an oleander bush. "I almost never ask where I stand in the tournament," he said later, "but I needed to know there. I actually thought my best option might have been to go back to my original spot and take stroke and distance; I could have whiffed it or lots of other bad things could have happened." Instead, finding that he was trailing Trimble by a stroke, McGihon chopped back to the fairway and ended up making bogey 6 ("a good bogey," he would say after the round). Moments later he found himself three shots back when Trimble birdied the same hole.

Then on the 357-yard 12th hole, McGihon began what he would later describe as a series of shots that ultimately decided the outcome. "The nine iron I hit on No. 12 to about 8 feet, after I had made the bogey on No. 11, was a critical shot," said McGihon later. "I knew that I had to make birdie on that hole. On No. 15, I roped a Rescue club to about 18 feet, made the putt for eagle 3, and I thought I was going to make eagle again on No. 16 because my approach was perfect. Those three shots I hit, plus the drive on No. 15, were absolutely pure. They were everything you could ask for."

When Trimble could make only par on the 15th hole and then stumbled with a double-bogey 5 on the 17th hole, McGihon had a three-shot leading heading into the par-three 17th hole. "I was trying to put my tee shot in the middle of the green," he explained, "but it hit a downslope and carried over the green into a really bad spot. I hit a decent chip but misread a nine-footer a little and had to make a good five-footer coming back. But I'm thinking, 'No big deal; I've still got the lead.' "

On the 421-yard finishing hole, McGihon tried to hit a fade and double-crossed himself, pulling it into deep rough on the left. "The ball was sitting up and there was a cutout opening, almost an archway, in the tree limbs," said McGihon. "I tried to keep an eight iron low but it popped straight up in the air and hit the tree. All I could think of was, 'See Phil Mickelson in the U.S. Open; I am an idiot!' McGihon managed to hit the green with his third shot but "I gave myself a hellacious first putt, 36 feet with lots of break and hit a great putt but left it right in the heart but four feet short. Just a little more pace and we're not talking about all this."

McGihon was worried about the bogey putt. "That was the one putt, that little twitch, that I've been struggling with for a month," he said, "ever since the state amateur. I hadn't missed one all week but I missed the most important one of the tournament and then had to make a good eight-footer coming back."

All that drama opened the door for Patel and Edick. Patel, playing in the same group as McGihon, pulled his drive into the left rough and it plugged. "I couldn't get a club on it," said Patel later, "and then couldn't get up and down." All week long Patel had been saying how surprised he was that he wasn't nervous in this major tournament, but that changed on Sunday. "I got a little nervous over a couple of those putts," he admitted after the final round.

After McGihon's misadventures, Edick -- who had double-bogied his first hole but fought back with four birdies to get close to the lead -- found himself on the 18th tee needing birdie to win or par for a playoff. Instead, his 150-yard pitching wedge approach shot sailed over the green and he left his chip shot 10 feet short. "I sort of chunked the chip," he admitted latere. "That's the sort of putt you make one out of 10 times," said Edick later, "and this wasn't my time."

Instead, it was McGihon's time to hoist the trophy for the third time, joining a list that includes five-time winner Paul Hunter; four-time champions Johnny Dawson and Steinberg; and Walter Fairbanks, George Von Elm and Bruce McCormick.

107th SCGA Amateur Championship
at Bakersfield Country Club; Bakersfield, CA.
6,819 yards; par 72
FINAL 72-hole results:
282 -- Scott McGihon, Bermuda Dunes, 68-75-69-70.

283 -- Bhavik Patel, Bakersfield, 68-73-71-71; Brian Edick, Valencia, 72-71-68-72.

284 -- David Bartman, Los Angeles, 73-68-73-70; Blake Trimble, Rancho Santa Fe, 75-68-68-73.

285 -- Dan Sullivan, Pasadena, 72-70-74-69; Brett Kanda, La Crescenta, 72-73-71-69.

287 -- John McClure, West Los Angeles, 75-70-71-71; Gary Havro, Claremont, 71-71-71-74.

289 -- Joshua Warthen, San Diego, 75-71-72-71.

290 -- Josh Anderson, Murrieta, 69-72-76-73; Alex Kim, Fullerton, 73-73-71-73.

291 -- Don DuBois, Newport Beach, 75-68-77-71; John Adams, San Clemente, 73-74-71-73; D.J. Fernando, Bakersfield, 66-74-77-74; Matt Ryan, Saugus, 72-75-71-73; Kevin Marsh, Las Vegas, NV 73-72-71-75.

292 -- Patrick Carrigan, Walnut, 74-74-72-72; Brandon Christianson, Valencia, 74-73-71-74; Jason Bittick, Coto de Caza, 73-69-74-76.

293 -- John Pate, Santa Barbara, 74-75-71-73; Kendall Adams Jr., Fallbrook, 76-71-72-74; Mike Reese, Apple Valley, 76-74-69-74; Gary Donovan, Cathedral City, 73-73-72-75.

294 -- Adam Marshall, La Quinta, 78-73-71-72; Todd Strible, San Marcos, 75-71-75-73; Kyle Hopkins, Apple Valley, 72-75-71-76.

295 -- Phillip Telliard, Riverside, 70-81-75-69; Erik Jarvey, Palmdale, 74-75-76-70; Ed Cuff, Rancho Santa Fe, 72-74-73-76; Matt Higley, San Diego, 80-71-68-76.

296 -- Michael Drake, Riverside, 76-70-70-80.

297 -- Kent Richardson, Bakersfield, 74-74-77-72; Amit Chopra, Newport Coast, 74-76-75-72; Mark Modglin, Simi Valley, 71-71-81-74.

298 -- Tyler Veysey, San Diego, 73-78-78-69; Brian Leff, San Marcos, 71-74-77-76.

299 -- Yun-Gi "Kenny" Kim, Cerritos, 74-74-76-75.

300 -- Christopher Cunningham, San Diego, 75-73-78-74; Michael Carpenter, Newport Beach, 72-77-73-78.

302 -- Jason Pridmore, Ventura, 71-74-79-78.

303 -- Gerry Simoni, Carlsbad, 76-73-75-79.

306 -- Jeff Wade, La Quinta, 72-78-79-77; Mark Kiesel, Newport Beach, 78-73-78-77.

For individual scorecards, click here.
Latest in 

Amateurgolf.com, Inc.
6965 El Camino Real 105-631
Carlsbad, CA 92011