SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (June 28, 2012) -- And then there were eight.
The California Amateur Championship's Round of 16 concluded Thursday afternoon, and the lead group featuring medalist and defending champion Bhavik Patel and Maxwell Marsico left little to be disappointed by. The two golfers, who also finished third (Marsico) and fifth (Patel) in last year's SCGA Amateur Championship, gave each other everything they had in a back-and-forth match Thursday at La Cumbre CC.
Patel emerged victorious in 20 holes, posting a score of 5-under par.
Marsico had momentum at the turn, carding birdies on 7 and 8 to go 1 up before doubling his lead with an impressive eagle putt on 9 that had about 15 feet of break. Marsico knew the 2 up lead on the defending champion was important, and unleashed a vintage "Tiger Woods" fist pump before walking off the green.
Patel wasn't going to back down, however, as he won holes 11, 13, 14 and 15 to take a 2 up advantage of his own. Marsico used a clutch birdie on 18 to send the match into extra holes, before Patel made an uphill 3-foot putt on hole 2 to close out the dramatic match.
Patel will move on to face Ronnald Monaco, who defeated Taylor Knoll 2 & 1 Thursday, in Friday's 7:30 a.m. quarterfinals match.
Also turning heads with his impressive play in the Round of 16 was 15-year-old Sean Crocker (pictured), the youngest player in the tournament's original 156-player field.
Crocker, a Westlake Village resident who plays out of Spanish Hills Golf & Country Club, found himself matched up against Santa Barbara-native Shane Lebow Thursday. Down three at the turn and two after 13, the youngster birdied three straight holes to turn the match around. He eventually won 1 up.
"It's unreal," he said. "My goal was just to get into match play, and everything since then has been a bonus. The last putt on 18 to win the match was only four feet, but it felt like a 20-footer. My goal tomorrow is just to go out and continue to have fun."
While Santa Barbara locals saw the last of Lebow in the tournament, hometown favorites Kevin Marsh and Jack Perry managed to advance to the quarterfinals. After being down early, Marsh pulled out a 2 up victory over Benjamin Lein of Diamond Bar, while Perry came from behind to beat SCGA veteran Mark Miller 2 & 1.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals was Cameron Rappleye of Elk Grove, Calif., who has not played more than 16 holes in each of his matches thus far, Ben Geyer of Arbuckle and Matt Hansen of Los Osos.
Quarterfinal action Friday will be immediately followed by semifinal play. The 36-hole final will then be held Saturday.