CARMICHAEL, CA (May 31, 2010)--
The final group reached the 18th green Monday at Ancil Hoffman, each of the four players with putter in hand and with a chance to win the Memorial Amateur.
The golf gods were smiling on the fans circling the green. On Austin Graham, too, as it turns out.
Graham rolled in a 25-footer for birdie from the fringe. His three competitors narrowly missed, and Graham, a senior-to-be at UC Davis, was the winner in his first Memorial appearance.
A 4-under-par 68 gave Graham a three-round total of 7-under 209 to beat Ramsey Sahyoun (70) and George Gandranata (69) by one shot. Will Kropp, also in the final group, shot a 71 to tie for fourth with Kevin Lucas (68) and Sam Yi (67).
Graham and Gandranata came to the closing hole tied for the lead. After Sayhoun and Kropp left 60-foot eagle attempts inches short, it was Graham's turn. He faced a 25-footer after an indifferent third shot from a greenside bunker on the closing par-5, while Gandranata studied a 10-footer for birdie.
The advantage appeared to be Gandranata's.
"I told my caddie we need to make this to go to a playoff," said Graham, who got the smallest of breaks at an opportune time. "There was a mark halfway to the hole on a perfect line," he said.
Graham kept his head down until the ball rolled over the mark, then looked up to see it roll into the middle of the cup.
Gandranata pulled his birdie try and that was that.
Graham began the day a shot behind Sayhoun and Kropp, and birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 5 to take the lead. Graham led by two shots after a birdie on No. 15. But Gandranata, a recent Cal graduate, made his third back-nine birdie on No. 16, soliciting the first "Go Bears" exchange of the day. Graham then bogeyed No. 17 from the left rough to set up the final-hole dramatics.
Graham, 20, won't be playing any critical rounds in the near future without the new-and-now-lucky teal-colored belt he wore Monday. At home sick last week, the San Clemente resident received a thoughtful pick-me-up when his mom bought the shiny accessory they had been eying.
Gandranata, 24, has more serious decisions ahead than attire. He'll spend the summer playing in high-level national amateur events before deciding in the fall whether to try professional golf or pursue a graduate degree in economics. The Emeryville resident and Indonesia native has been accepted by USF.
Sayhoun, 18, will graduate from Campbell Hall, a college preparatory school in North Hollywood, next week before heading to USC on a golf scholarship. After eight consecutive pars on the back nine and trailing by a shot, he felt he needed an eagle on No. 18. His long attempt, heading directly at the hole, stopped three inches short.
"I've never been more due to make a putt in my life," he said. "I thought it was in."
Sacramento's John Catlin, a sophomore-to-be at New Mexico, shot a 66, the tournament's low round to tie for seventh.
Sacramento's Andrew Roberts aced No. 14 in a round of 72.
ABOUT THE Memorial Amateur
Founded by Vietnam Veteran John Rochelle;
coincidence that this first class, traditional
place on Memorial Day weekend. 54 hole
event w/ 36 hole cut. Field limited to 105
NCGA Points Event. Played on one of the
fee golf courses in America. One of the most
amateur events in Northern California.
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