It didn’t quite go as planned for US Amateur Champ Kelly Kraft in the final round of the SBIA. I guess that is what makes the best golfers in the world just that. When it was all said and done, though, Kraft won his fourth amateur event of the year by shooting a final round 72 (+1), 279 overall, to out-do the strongest inaugural scratch ranked field by a one shot.
Kraft was in the final pairing with two of France’s finest young amateurs. Clement Sordet, who plays his college golf at Texas Tech, and the top ranked French amateur Gary Stal traded haymakers with Kraft for most of the day.
Kraft made birdie on two to stretch the lead to two but after a double bogey on the par 5, 10th, the outcome was in question. Sordet birdied 10 and was able to pick up three shots on the leader after picking one up on the 9th.
Sordet wasn’t done. He birdied 11 and 12 as well enabling him to pick up six shots on Kraft in just four holes. He gave one back at 14, making bogey on the Par 3, and it was all tied up heading to the 15th tee.
Kraft went for the par 5, 15th, in two, and after he hit his second shot well right, almost OB, Sordet hammered a 3-wood into the front of the green. Kraft’s ball was nestled in the midst of some trees and was forced to hit a tricky shot to a flag he could barely see. After spending a good deal of time negotiating his backswing, the US Am champ floated one out of the rubbish into the center of the green.
Although Sordet two putted for birdie and claimed the lead once again, Kraft made a great par. He found himself in a familiar position as he was in the US Am, trailing by a shot with just a few holes remaining.
It didn’t take long for his experience to prevail. Kraft birdied 16 while Sordet made a rare mistake, bogeying the short Par 4 after being in perfect position off the tee just 60 yards from the green and three putting from the back of the 16th green.
Kraft made par on 17 and, after Sordet left his decisive effort short, the champ found himself on the 18th green with two putts to win.
He nearly buried his first putt, tapped in, and claimed his fourth trophy of 2011.
While some questioned the ability of the South Beach International to go up against the longer-established Dixie Amateur in the same timeframe - without hurting either field - the demand for competitive winter golf has won out, as both events thrived.
View results for South Beach International Amateur