Tom Carlson birdied two of his final three holes to hold off a spirited charge from Ryan Jansa to win his first SDGA Men's Amateur Championship on Sunday at Brookings Country Club.
The 25-year-old Carlson fired a final round 71 on Sunday to finish the 54-hole event at 9-under 207. It was good enough for a two-stroke win over Jansa, who was seeking his eighth title and closed with a sparkling 65 after starting the day eight back of Carlson.
"It didn't surprise me that he would have that kind of day," said Carlson, who found out he was tied with Jansa heading to the 16th tee.
Carlson started the final round one stroke ahead of Michael Keeton of Sioux Falls and three in front of Madison's James Green, He held the lead all day until a three-putt bogey on the par-4 15th, coupled with a Jansa birdie on 18, left both tied at 7-under.
"I was really thinking, then, if I could just par 16 and 17, I knew 18 was a par 5 and I had a chance for birdie," said Carlson, who was runner-up last month to Tyler Rachetto in the Match Play Championship.
Rather than waiting until the final hole to provide the heroics, the spring grad of the University of New Mexico hit his two biggest shots of the summer. After his tee shot on the par-4 16th found the left rough, Carlson put his approach shot 10 feet slightly above the hole.
"It had some speed to it and had it not gone in, I would have been happy with par," said Carlson, who showed a rare bit of emotion with a fist-pump as the slippery putt dropped for a one-stroke advantage.
He then sealed the deal when his 6-iron tee shot on the 193-yard 17th nearly went in, stopping no more than a foot behind the hole which resulted in an easy birdie.
"I was aiming left of the hole because anything right of the green is tough," Carlson said. "That yardage is usually a 5-iron, but I had a little adrenaline going. That birdie was a bonus."
This left just the tree-lined final hole to negotiate to capture the title.
"I never thought about anything but hitting driver off the tee because you have to hit it so straight," he said. "And the first time I got nervous all day was before hitting the second shot."
That shot left him in position to reach the green easily in three. An easy two-putt par clinched his fifth overall SDGA championship.
"Those birdies on 16 and 17 were so unexpected and to do it to beat the best player in SDGA history means so much," Carlson said. "This is by far the most satisfying win I have ever had.It is unbelievable that Ryan has won this thing seven times. Coming down the stretch is hard. You almost think it is not possible to win it just once. Sometimes things just turn out right."
Matt Johnson and Keeton shared third at 214. Johnson finished with 73, while Keeton struggled to a 77. Defending champion Chris Long tied with Ryan Tjeerdsma and Jon Burns for fifth at 215. Long shot 73, while Tjeerdsma and Burns each closed with 70. Scott Holm of Brookings was eighth at even-par 216 with Green, who closed with 78, alone in ninth at 217.
View results for South Dakota Men's Amateur Golf Championship