CARMEL, CA (December 18, 2016) -- The difficult final day of the AmateurGolf.com Tour Championship presented by Callaway Golf began with a frost-delay and ended with a dramatic playoff finish that saw Pacific freshman Daniel Pena emerge as the victor.
Heading to the par-5 final hole at Poppy Hills Golf Course, Pena seemed to be in command, holding a two-stroke lead over playing partner Daniel Connolly, only to watch the SMU freshman even off the score. After a solid drive Connolly knocked his second shot, a hybrid from 220 yards to 15-feet giving himself an eagle try.
Playing with the lead, Pena was more conservative laying up and placing his third shot to 10-feet guaranteeing himself at least a putt for the win should Connolly make his eagle putt.
And make it he did. The 2016 San Francisco City champion rolled in his eagle tying Pena at even-par. Now with a putt to win, Pena missed by an inch to the left, thus finishing even-par as well and sending play to extra holes.
“I initially read the putt as dead straight but talked myself into playing it left edge," Pena said ”I should have trusted my first instinct”.
The duo headed to the par-4 1st to begin the playoff and right off the bat Pena got the break he needed when Connolly pushed his drive right and ended up in a tough spot in the fairway bunker, leading to a double-bogey. Although Pena pulled his tee shot left, he was able to advance it to the green and completed a two-putt par to earn the title.
High School junior Ryan Grauman (+2) played well shooting back-to-back 72's to finish third. Grauman is beginning to look at his college choices and scores such as these will certainly attract attention from coaches.
Auburn's Ryan Knop (+3) was third while Christian Banke (+4) and Finigan Tilly (+4) shared fourth. First round leader Nicolas Noya of UC Davis ended up tied for seventh at 5-over.
Winner Tony Ralph dodged a bullet on the final hole when Sung Han missed a two-foot putt on the last hole to win, sending play to yet another playoff.
On the first playoff hole Han got in some trouble left off the tee took four shots to hit the green. Ralph was on in regulation and was able to three putt for the victory.
Yet again play came down to the final hole. Net Division winner Calvin Knop found a fairway bunker off the tee and then found another with his second shot. However, from there he was able to recover knocking his third shot to 40-feet and then two-putted to complete a one shot victory over Lyle Covino.