Azalea Invitational: Alexander wins at 9-under

reported by Tommy Braswell, The Post and Courier

CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 29, 2009) -- When it comes to the Azalea Invitational golf tournament, Tyson Alexander earned the right to do a little trash talking with his father, Buddy Alexander, who won the Azalea back in 1976 — 12 years before Tyson was born.

On Sunday, Tyson shot a final-round 67 for a nine-under-par total of 275 to secure a three-shot victory under blustery conditions at the Country Club of Charleston.

Alexander, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Florida where his father is the golf coach, went wire-to-wire to beat defending champion Zach Sucher, who also shot 67 Sunday.

'I've got a little bragging rights now,' Alexander said, after learning his winning total was seven shots better than his father's winning score. 'He'll be hearing about that.'

Mike McCoy of West Des Moines, Iowa, finished third at 280, while Curtis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., Will Kropp of Edmond, Okla., and Yuki Usami of Japan tied for fourth at 281.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo tied for 36th at 293.

The Alexanders became the first father-son winners in Azalea history. The late Frank Ford Sr. won the tournament four times while his grandson, Frank Ford III, won six Azalea titles. And brothers Dave and Charlie Smith each won the tournament twice.

Although Alexander didn't leave the golf course as the leader Saturday afternoon when play was halted because of bad weather, he was the official 54-hole leader when the last 12 players finished their third round Sunday. Alexander birdied the 18th and Mu Hu of Champions Gate, Fla., bogeyed the last hole.

He never relinquished the lead during the final 18 holes, making three birdies on the front nine for a 33.

But the nail in the coffin for the rest of the field came on the club's signature hole, the par-3 11th. Alexander hit a poor tee shot that landed in the right bunker. He holed the difficult shot to the elevated green for a birdie-2.

'I view myself as a pretty good bunker player,' said Alexander, who admitted he didn't see the ball go in. 'I was just trying to not leave it in the bunker and make a big number. It was on line. I ran up the hill and everybody was clapping. I kinda knew it was my day when stuff like that happens. Looking at 4 and walking away with a 2 is a big deal.'

Alexander hit his approach shot on the par-4 14th over the green and missed a 10-footer for his only bogey of the day, allowing Sucher to close within two shots. But after pars on the next two holes, he iced it with a birdie from inside 10 feet on the par-3 17th.

After the birdie on 17 gave him a three-shot cushion, Alexander had a little margin for error. His approach on 18 went over the green and into a bunker, but he blasted out to 18 inches and made the par putt.

Results For Azalea Invitational Golf Tournament
1FLTyson AlexanderGainesville, FL100068-67-73-67--275
2ALZack SucherMobile, AL70070-68-73-67--278
3IAMike McCoyW. Des Moines, IA50073-67-71-69--280
T4FLCurtis ThompsonCoral Springs, FL50073-68-72-68--281
T4OKWill KroppEdmond, OK50069-70-70-72--281

View full results for Azalea Invitational Golf Tournament

ABOUT THE Azalea Invitational

72 hole stroke play with a 54 hole cut on a 1925 Seth Raynor design. Good mix of college players, juniors and mid amateurs. 7 spots available in a qualifier. Impressive list of past champions at this traditional event. Reigning USGA champs often use this tournament as a tune-up for the Masters.

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