Santa Cruz City Am: Pacheco Wins 3-Way Playoff

Jim Seimas story courtesy Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (August 13, 2006) — Steve Pacheco's crash-and-burn finish in regulation only made earning the Santa Cruz City Amateur championship that much sweeter.

The Aptos resident survived Scotts Valley's Hae Young Lee on a third playoff hole at DeLaveaga Golf Course Sunday evening to acquire a crown that has eluded the course employee on several occasions.

Pacheco, DeLaveaga's assistant superintendent, was 5-over on the final three holes — going triple-bogey, bogey, bogey — for a second-round 4-over-74 and 142-total at DeLaveaga Golf Course, creating a three-way playoff with Lee and Burlingame's Kiego Painter.

"Relief," said the 42-year-old Pacheco, who has competed in the City Am a half dozen times. "I think it was just my turn."

Pacheco finished second in the 2004 City Am after posting the low score in the first round. Aptos' Eddie Olson, now a redshirt freshman at nationally ranked UNLV, rallied from five strokes back with a 8-under-64 on the course — then par-72 layout — in the final round for a two-stroke victory.

Painter, who moved from Australia a year ago and just completed his freshman season for Foothill College, started the second round six strokes off the pace. He fired a 2-under-par 68 — the low round of the day — but was ready to leave the course when he was informed there might be a playoff. He three-putted the first playoff hole to finish in third place.

Lee, a 2002 Monte Vista Christian graduate who has two semesters left in New Mexico State's Golf Pro Management program, recovered from a 6-over-40 on the front side that featured two birdies [4 and 9], two bogeys [Nos. 5 and 7] a double-bogey on No. 3 and a quadruple bogey on 387-yard 6th hole. On the back side, he played bogey-free with four birdies [Nos. 13, 14, 17 and 18].

"I was 6-over after nine and figured I had to be much more aggressive," said Lee, an employee at Coyote Creek Golf Course in San Jose. "I hit driver every par-4 and made some clutch putts."

He drained a 6-footer on the 513-yard, par-17th and a right-to-left 12-footer on the 454-yard, par-4 18th, which was used for all three playoffs.

"I wasn't expecting much," Lee said of the possibility of winning after making the turn. "But it turned out to be the greatest 2-over-par I've ever shot. That was fun."

On all three playoff holes, Pacheco put his ball on a small hill on the back of the green, 12 feet from the hole, which was tucked in the back right corner.

Pacheco said he had a good feeling sizing up his putt on the third playoff hole. A gallery of 40-plus that had followed him the entire round was pulling for him to drain it. Lee hit his approach shot fat and was left with a right-to-left 60-footer uphill putt. He three putted, leaving Pacheco to tap-in for par after two-putting.

"When we got done, I thought he'd won," Pacheco said of Lee and his hot back-nine score. "I was waiting for him to make a mistake and he didn't. I got fortunate."

Pacheco thought he secured the win after earning birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He pumped his fist as the gallery applauded and it came back to haunt him.

"I normally hate fist-pumping," he said.

His approach shot on the 16th hole sailed left into a greenside bunker that didn't have much sand. He skulled it out over the green and near a cart path to the 17th tee box. He didn't take a drop and chipped short into the rough. His next chip sailed 40 feet past the pin and he two-putted from there.

"I tried to give it away," he said.

Lee was there to capitalize with his big putts. But Pacheco made the biggest one, a simple tap-in for the win.

"To win it with this field, there were 20 players with plus-handicaps, and with a guy like Eddie Olson in the field, it is really, really gratifying," Pacheco said. "My friends, family and co-workers fired me up. They kept me from getting tired."

Olson, attempting to become the first player to win the City Am three straight years, finished with a 146 total.

  • Modesto's Jane Irwin closed with an 81 and 156 total for a three-stroke win over San Jose's Corey Utsurogi in the Women's Championship. Napa's Samantha Trask took third with 162.
  • Santa Cruz's Michele Thiltgen 139 total was good for a 15-stroke win over runner-up Catherine Larrick of Aptos in the Women's Net Championship.
  • Santa Cruz's Jeff Newkirk won the Senior Championship with a second-round 73 and 149 total. Saratoga's Jim Ono and Sacramento's Tom Marks tied for second at 153.
  • In handicap play, Santa Cruz's Richard Pearce 133 total edged Santa Cruz's Ross Abrams [134] and Aptos' Mike Gruber [135] for the First Flight Championship. Novato's Ted Krejdovsky shot a 138 total to win the Second Flight, beating Capitola's Michael Viguerie and Santa Cruz's Dean Pizarro by four strokes. In the Third Flight, Lafayette's William Allaway shot a 141-total for the win. Cupertino's Kip Peterson shot a 143 for second. Scotts Valley's San Ho Lee, Hae Young's father, shot a 147 for third place.

Contact Jim Seimas at jseimas@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Final results from the Santa Cruz City Championship can be viewed by clicking on the tournament link at the top of the page (amateurgolf.com Premium Membership, a bargain at $35/year, requested).

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