SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Trevor Clayton would not be beat during Monday afternoon's playoff at the 91st California State Fair Men's Amateur Championship. Facing Canadian Jooho Lee, Clayton made birdie on all four extra holes at Haggin Oaks' MacKenzie Golf Course to take home the title.
Clayton, a junior transfer at Fresno State from Clovis, Calif., trailed first-round leader KK Limbhasut of Thailand by six shots when Saturday's round came to a close. But Clayton's 6-under 66 on Sunday put him right back in things, though he still entered the final round four back of the Cal-Berkeley sophomore Limbhasut.
Limbhasut fell back during the third and final round, posting 73 on Monday and finishing in a tie for third place with Lee Gearhart and teammate Sebastian Crampton.
Gearhart shot the round of the tournament Monday, vaulting up the leaderboard with a 63. Gearhart kept his momentum going after shooting 68 in the second round just to make the cut on the number, a round that included a hole-in-one on hole nine.
“I was joking to my buddies that I had to shot 60 to have any chance and I almost did,” said Gearhart. “I thought I’d be leader in the clubhouse for a couple groups but it took all day for them to pass me.”
Gearhart was eventually passed by clutch finishes by both Clayton and Lee. Clayton carded a 67, which was capped off with an eagle on the par-5 18th to post 10-under and be the leader in the clubhouse.
“I saw I was one shot back when I teed off on 17 and knew I needed to get to 10 or 11 under par, so I wanted to finish birdie-eagle,” said Clayton.
Clayton lipped out his birdie putt on 17 but holed his chip from just short of the green on 18 for eagle.
“I knew I needed to give it a good run and I hit a perfect chip and it just rolled right in. It was sweet.” Clayton said with a smile on his face.
Lee, a sophomore at the University of Nevada-Reno, was still on the course and needed two closing birdies at 17 and 18 to tie Clayton. After two shots on 17, Lee’s ball sat in a small hole to the left of the green, needing to pitch to a green that ran away from him with water looming just past the pin.
“I was debating whether to hit out left and take a 20-footer but I knew given the situation that going for it would be the only chance I had at winning,” said Lee.
Lee pulled it off to near perfection, bumping it into the slope short of the green to kill its momentum, leaving himself a 10-foot putt which he calmly walked in with a foot to go. Knowing he was one shot back heading into 18, Lee put his drive in the fairway and approached just short and right of the green. Another exceptional pitch shot left Lee with a tap-in to shoot 70 and force a playoff.
Clayton and Lee played holes 1 and 18 for the playoff, both par 5’s and easily reachable in two shots.
“I just wanted to make sure to make birdies and not kill myself with a three-putt,” said Clayton.
Clayton did just that, hitting each green in two shots and making four straight birdies to finally close out the victory after Lee matched Clayton's first three.