COLUMBUS, Ga. — Grant Hirschman, who will begin his sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma this fall, entered the final round of the Southeastern Amateur with a five-shot lead. Defending the championship he claimed for the first time last year was in sight, as was setting the 72-hole scoring record at the 82nd running of the Southeastern Amateur.
The more important of the two tasks was accomplished Saturday afternoon at the Country Club of Columbus.
After building a five-shot cushion with second an third rounds of 62 and 63, in which one tied the course record, Hirschman needed only 73 to successfully defend his title.
"It honestly feels great," Hirschman said. "It's the feeling that I wanted to have coming back into this week."
The win came by three shots over Troy University junior Jared Bettcher, who closed with 64 in his attempt at a massive comeback.
Hirschman, along with second-round leader Carter Page, tied the Country Club of Columbus course record of 62 on Thursday. Hirschman began the second round with five consecutive birdies, and he says this is what propelled him to his second straight title.
"I got off to such a hot start that day and just rode that momentum and never got ahead of myself," Hirschman said of his second-round score. "I was really confident with my putter, was hitting the ball really well, as was just seeing a lot of putts go in."
Hirschman used another stretch of five straight birdies during his third round, in which he fired 63, when he posted red numbers on holes 7 through 11. With a mix of short, three-to-five footers, as well as well-rolled 15-to-25 footers, Hirschman was knocking just about everything in the back of the cup. He made an astonishing 20 birdies during those two middle rounds, three more than second-place finishing Bettcher made during the entire tournament.
Multiple past winners won two in a row at "CCC," including most recently back-to-back victories courtesy of former Georgia Regents University golfer Derek Chang from 2009-2010. But only one golfer has done the feat three years in a row — Frank Garrard Jr. from 1929-1931. Hirschman is already excited to return in 2016.
"Great southern hospitality and even better golf course. Can't wait to come back and defend," he tweeted.