MONROE, La. (July 29, 2012) – After two rounds of qualifying and six match victories in three days, University of South Alabama men’s golfer Tyler Klava won the 2012 Cotton States Invitational with a 1 up decision over Jade Scott of Texas A&M Saturday afternoon.
The win — his first since claiming a local tournament hosted by 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson during his high-school career — added to the summer résumé put together by the rising sophomore from Pace, Fla., as he advanced to the second round of match play at the U.S. Public Links Amateur Championship and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship earlier this month.
“Pure relief,” is what Klava said he felt after clinching the final match. “It was a long week — a grind — for six straight days. When that last putt fell in on No. 18 to win the championship it was a pretty good feeling. This was a good accomplishment wrapping up a good week’s work.”
Klava was seeded ninth after a second-round 5-under-par 67 at the par-72, 7,234-yard Bayou DeSiard Country Club left him with a 142 total over 36 holes. Ninety-nine individuals began play Tuesday morning, with 64 advancing to match play after the two qualifying rounds.
In his opening match Thursday, Klava earned a 2 and 1 victory over Marcus Sanna before returning in the afternoon to defeat Charleston’s John Duke Hudson by the same score. With a 1 up win over James Marchesani in the round of 16, Klava moved on to the quarterfinals Friday afternoon where he would need 19 holes to beat Tyler Gann, who will be a senior at Wichita State in the fall.
On Saturday morning, Klava earned a 2 and 1 victory over Will Dusenbury, the 2011 Conference USA Freshman of the Year who is entering his senior year at Houston.
“I didn’t really feel pressure,” he observed regarding the number of matches he faced that came down to the wire. “The more I played close matches that I was able to win, it added to my confidence coming into Saturday. I played two tough matches the last day, both opponents played great all day; knowing I had won four close matches helped me stay motivated to finish out every hole.”
Klava began match play as the No. 9 seed following rounds of 75-67-142 during stroke-play qualifying.
Scott, the runner-up, was the sixth seed after a pair of 70s.
Despite his final match loss, Scott praised the tournament organization, telling the Monroe News Star:
"They treat every player here like you're someone special. I got treated the same the first day with 100-and-however-many players were here as I did the last day with two people left. They just treat you great. They don't pick the favorites by who the best players are. They just treat everybody the same. It's just a great group of people here in Monroe."