LOS ANGELES, July 19 -- In a five-way tie that came down to the last two holes, Austin Graham of San Clemente birdied hole 17 en route to a final-round, 1-under 70, and earned the title of 110th SCGA Amateur champion at Wilshire CC.
Graham, age 19 and an incoming junior economics major at UC Davis, broke up a logjam at the top of the leaderboard that included 2008 champion Kevin Marsh of Henderson, Nev., 2004 champion Tim Hogarth of Northridge, 2009 SCGA Mid-Amateur runner-up Tyler Crawford of Rancho Mirage, and Loyola Marymount golfer Jake Sarnoff of Manhattan Beach. In his 6-under-par victory (69-69-70-70--278), Graham rebounded from a bogey 6 on the 16th hole when he drained a 30-foot putt on 17 for birdie.
"I played smart today, and I hit aggressive, safe targets out there," Graham said after his round.
With his dad Tony on the bag ("He caddies 95 percent of the events I play in and helps me keep my game in perspective," Graham said), Graham is fresh off a win at the Long Beach City Championship last weekend, where he had an eight-stroke victory and shot a first-round 62 at El Dorado Park GC, the lowest tournament round he's shot. He said in hindsight, the win motivated him to play well at the Amateur.
"I learned a lot last week about staying in my game and keeping focused," he said. "I also knew that the competition at this event was going to be much more tough, and I had to mentally prepare for that."
Past championand 2009 SCGA Mid-Amateur champion Hogarth (73-67-68-71--279) played steadily while his competition struggled, but stalled on holes 6 through 8 when he collected three consecutive bogeys. After a birdie on 9, and a double bogey on 10, Hogarth righted the ship and birdied holes 13, 14 and 16 to put him in a tie for first. A missed birdie attempt from 10 feet on 17, paired with Graham's birdie-3, closed out his championship hope and put him in a tie for second with Marsh.
Marsh (72-68-70-69--168) ran up the leaderboard also, but two bogeys on 11 and 12 got him into scoring trouble.
"I made a couple of bogeys on the last few holes that cost me," Marsh said. "I never had a good putting round this tournament, and that's usually my strength. The pin placements were challenging."
Crawford (69-71-72-68--280) went birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie on holes 13-16 to secure the fourth-place spot, while Sarnoff (67-70-70-74--281), who was in second place coming into today's final round, claimed fifth after two bogeys, a double bogey, and only one birdie.
Third-round leader Spencer Anderson, a golfer at Duke and last year's fifth place winner who was as many as 7 under par and three shots in the lead today, succumbed to an up-and-down round that left him in seventh place (69-71-66-77--283), thanks to a bogey and two double bogeys on the last three holes.
"This win is a dream come true," Graham said. "I always wanted to qualify and play in this event, and to now have my name on the same trophy as Tiger Woods [winner in 1994] -- I'm speechless."