By Bill Huffman
TEMPE, Ariz. (March 18, 2012) -- Glendale teen-ager Kale Davidson edged Scottsdale’s Michael Wog by a single shot to win the Arizona Publinks Championship on Sunday, the first major of the season for the Arizona Golf Association.
Davidson capped his fast and furious finish that saw him go 5-under par on the last seven holes by saving par from five feet on the final hole at Ken McDonald Golf Course in Tempe. Wog, who had won this tournament in 2009, could not recover from a bad drive on the 18th that led to a bogey.
“It was pretty magical, to say the least,’’ said Davidson, an 18-year-old senior at Cactus High School who closed with a 1-under-par 70 for a winning aggregate of 5-under 208.
“When I made bogey at No. 10, which put me back to even par for the tournament (4-over for he day), I just tried to regroup. I knew with the weather being bad, it was a tough day to play for everybody. So I said to myself, ‘Just try to make a few birdies and get back in it.’ “
Davidson did better than that, as he holed a birdie putt from 30 feet at No. 12, made an eagle 2 from 110 yards out at No. 14, another birdie from one foot at No. 15, and yet another birdie at No. 17 from a mere 2 inches.
“When I holed the gap wedge at the 14th hole for the eagle, I said, ‘Oh, I’m back in it,’ “ Davidson said with a big smile. “Then I almost holed another wedge at the 17th from 130 yards out that (tied it up).
“But it was that last putt to get my par, that’s what won it. I guess it was a hectic but exciting way to end the day.’’
As Davidson mentioned, the weather played a key role in the final round, with winds, scattered showers and temperatures in the low 50s making for some interesting club selections and very cold hands. Those conditions were quite a turnaround from Friday’s opening round, which featured sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s, or even Saturday’s cooler conditions with wind and overcast skies.
But it wasn’t the inclement weather that bugged Wog, who closed with a 69. He was under the impression that he trailed Davidson by a stroke when they teed off at No. 18, when in fact they were tied.
“I was keeping his score and had him for a 37 on the front, when he actually shot 38,’’ noted Wog, who opened with a 72 but got back into the mix with a 68 on Saturday.
“But in the end, I just hit a bad drive at 18 – blocked it way right – and couldn’t recover. And Kale made a nice putt, a clutch putt, to win it.’’
Three shots off the pace in third place was another youngster, 16-year-old Christopher Petefish. The sophomore from Scottsdale Christian carded a 70 to end up 2-under. Another two shots back at even-par 213 was Tucson’s Derek Laporte.
Camron Howell, who was the leader after the opening round with a tournament-best 66, and who held a share of the lead with Davidson at 4-under going in the final 18 holes, ended up 1-over and in fifth place. The big hitter from Queen Creek, who was the AGA’s Player of the Year in 2011, had been attempting to win his first major.
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