SCGA Amateur: McGihon Scores Comeback Victory

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, (July 10, 2005) -- The golf adage that championships begin on the back nine proved true again today as Scott McGihon of Bermuda Dunes fired a 4-under-par 68 and rallied to win his second Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) Amateur Championship by one shot at Tijeras Creek Golf Club.

Scott McGihon won his second SCGA Amateur Championship by one shot today at Tijeras Creek Golf Club, home course of SCGA President Bill Cunerty (right).

The 37-year-old McGihon, who began the day five shots off the lead, finished with scores 73-67-71-69 -- 279, 9 under par, a shot in front of UC Irvine student Brian Edick of Valencia, who closed with a 5-under-par 67 for a 72-hole total of 280. Another shot back was 17-year-old Cameron Tringale of Laguna Niguel, who began the day with a three-shot lead, struggled to a 2-over-par 74 today, and finished in third place at 281.

"My goal today was to get off to a good start and get close heading into the back nine," said McGihon, who won his first SCGA Amateur title in 2000 at Rancho Santa Fe GC and also captured the 2002 SCGA Mid-Amateur and the 2004 Trans-Mississippi Mid-Amateur titles. "I played the front nine indifferently all week but for some reason I played the back nine well."

After birdieing his first two holes today and shooting 1-under-par 35 on the front side, McGihon turned his game up another notch, making three birdies and six pars on the back, including a birdie 3 on No. 17 that ultimately proved to be the margin of victory.

Edick used his course knowledge to good advantage (the Big West Championship, which included UC Irvine, was played at Tijeras Creek this year). Edick made birdie 2 on the 16th hole to pull into a tie for the lead but the 17th hole proved to be pivotal, as Edick made bogey 5 while, moments later, McGihon sank a six-foot putt for his birdie 3. Edick sank a clutch 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole but came up a shot short.

Tringale, who has won three of the last four junior championships at Tijeras Creek, imploded on the front nine, making three bogies and a double-bogey en route to a 4-over-par 40. However, he rallied on the back side with three birdies in eight holes and had a 20-foot chip to force a playoff, which he left four feet short. He missed the resulting par putt to end up in third place.

As he began his final round, McGihon was aware of a myriad of similarities between this year and 2000 when, like today, he came from five shots back in the final round to win at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.

"There were a bunch of young guys, including a high school student, in the lead back then," McGihon related after his victory, "same as this year. And like 2000, I was in the next-to-last group, not the last group. I double-bogied the first of that tournament and did the same thing this year. I birdied the first two holes in the last round back then and did it again this year. So in many ways, this win felt a lot like Rancho Santa Fe."

One major difference was that Edick, Tringale and the next three finishers -- Greg Lopez of San Juan Capistrano (68), Brett Kanda of La Canada-Flintridge (68) and Erik Jarvey of Palmdale (67) -- all closed strongly to keep the pressure on McGihon. "I gave myself a lot of birdie putts coming down the stretch," McGihon said after his round, "and made just enough of them to win."

Brian Edick made a charge and finished in second place at the 106th SCGA Amateur Championship. The back nine was a work of art. "I knew that I had to make great swings, especially on the last few holes," said McGihon later, "and, except for a loose drive on No. 18, I hit them exactly the way I wanted to." He followed that weak drive on No. 18 with a six-iron approach to within 10 feet of the flagstick, only to see the birdie putt slide over the edge. "I was hoping that wasn't going to rue missing that putt," admitted McGihon.

Two back-nine holes proved to be especially critical. On the 536-yard, par-five 14th his second shot landed under a tree, but McGihon was able to knock a 54-degree wedge shot under a tree limb and over a bunker stiff for a birdie.

After sinking a 15-foot birdie putt, McGihon knocked a nine-iron shot to within six feet of the flagstick and sank what proved to be the winning birdie putt. "I asked a rules official before I hit my approach on No. 17 where I stood in the tournament," said McGihon, who almost never asks for that information. "I needed to know whether I could play safe or if I need to fire at the flag. Cameron had just made birdie to tie for the lead so I knew I had to go for it."

McGihon's victory continues a string of strong SCGA Amateur performances. McGihon finished fourth in the 1998 tournament at The SCGA Golf Course (after leading through three rounds), finished second to John Pate in 1999 at Industry Hills, finished fourth in 2002 at El Caballero CC and was runner-up last year to Tim Hogarth at Hillcrest CC.

"I like this tournament," summed up McGihon with a smile after his victory today. "That first victory was special, in part because my family was there. Today was fun because it was so tight all the way; in 2000 I had a big lead coming down the stretch. Plus, as you get older you appreciate the wins even more."

106th SCGA Amateur Championship at Tijeras Creek Golf Club; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. 6,840 yards; par 72

FINAL 72-hole results:

279 -- Scott McGihon, Bermuda Dunes, 73-67-71-68.

280 -- Brian Edick, Valencia, 74-71-68-67.

281 -- Cameron Tringale, Laguna Niguel, 70-66-71-74.

282 -- Greg Lopez, San Juan Capistrano, 70-74-70-68.

283 -- Brett Kanda, La Crescenta, 71-70-74-68.

284 -- Erik Jarvey, Palmdale, 67-75-75-67.

285 -- Mark Modglin, Simi Valley, 71-73-71-70.

286 -- Todd Strible, San Marcos, 74-70-73-69 Tim Hogarth, Northridge, 72-72-69-73.

288 -- John Adams, San Clemente, 73-72-72-71 Ed Cuff, Rancho Santa Fe, 68-77-71-72 Robert Caton, Huntington Beach, 74-72-67-75.

289 -- Ryan Panichpakdee, Long Beach, 72-74-74-69 Jordan Nasser, Anaheim Hills, 72-68-74-75 Joshua Warthen, San Diego, 69-71-70-79.

290 -- Bucky Coe, Olivenhain, 72-73-71-74 Brad Uptgraft, Valencia, 71-70-74-75.

291 -- Gerry Simoni, Carlsbad, 72-72-76-71 Carl Smith IV, Laguna Beach, 72-74-70-75 Doug Miller, Thousand Oaks, 71-71-71-78.

292 -- Craig Steinberg, Oak Park, 70-74-77-71 Jeff Koprivetz, Yorba Linda, 72-69-74-77.

293 -- Brian Hess, La Mesa, 78-71-76-68 Brandon Beck, Oak Park, 69-80-73-71.

294 -- Bryan Newman, San Bernardino, 72-72-77-73 Joey Davis, Lake Forest, 73-74-73-74 Mike McCabe Jr, Thousand Oaks, 75-73-71-75.

295 -- Guy Livesay, La Habra, 71-75-75-74.

296 -- Don DuBois, Newport Beach, 74-74-74-74 Danny Hoffenberg, Simi Valley, 73-76-73-74 Tony Behrstock, Los Angeles, 70-76-75-75 Michael Turner, Sherman Oaks, 74-75-71-76.

298 -- Gary Havro, Claremont, 74-75-75-74 Tyler Hurst, Bakersfield, 73-76-73-76 Mark Sumida, Laguna Niguel, 75-73-71-79.

299 -- Jeffrey Payne, Garden Grove, 72-78-73-76 Kendall Adams Jr., Fallbrook, 74-75-73-77 Paul Rice, Redlands, 75-75-73-76 David Bartman, Brentwood, 79-71-72-77 Jeff Hunter, San Diego, 75-75-72-77 Amit Chopra, Newport Coast, 71-75-74-79.

302 -- Steve Bogan, Placentia, 72-76-78-76 Mike Rowe, Palm Desert, 78-71-81-72 Chris Arkin, Irvine, 78-72-81-71.

305 -- Nick Bernhard, Poway, 73-76-81-75.

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