PORTSMOUTH, Va. (July 10, 2011) -- Steve Liebler's summer keeps getting hotter.
After he already qualified for this month's U.S. Senior Open, Liebler won his third Eastern Amateur, defeating Mitch Gray and Will McCurdy in a playoff on a wild final round Sunday at Elizabeth Manor.
Liebler, the field's oldest player, became just the third player to win three Eastern Amateur titles. He won in 1981 and '94, and is the only player to win a title in three different decades.
"When you are 52 years old and going against kids who are a third of your age and you are able to compete, you just don't have moments like this," said Liebler, a Churchland High graduate. "I'd have to say it's one of the best."
Four-time champion Deane Beman (1960-61, 1963-64) and Tom McKnight (1993, 95, '97) are the only others to win three times.
Two days after shooting a course-record 29 on the back nine, Liebler played bogey free and shot a 5-under-par 65 to finish 12 under.
Gray, a rising senior at Campbell University, shot a final-round 64. But after bogeying 16, Gray had to birdie 17 and 18 to make the playoff.
McCurdy, a rising senior at Auburn, shot a 66 and also birdied 18 to force his way into the playoff.
In the playoff, all three hit their tee shots in the middle of the fairway at the 365-yard, par-4 first hole. Liebler placed his second shot to within 5 feet, and McCurdy's approach was almost as good, landing about 6 feet away. Gray's shot finished just off the fringe.