Jonathan Alden can finally smile after winning Austin City Championship
(Golf Austin photo)
AUSTIN, TX (August 6, 2017) - Winning a tournament is seldom easy, as Jonathan Alden found out Sunday at Jimmy Clay Golf Club at the Austin City Championship.
Alden had put himself in great position to win, putting his stamp on the tournament with a seven-under 29 on the front nine at Morris Williams Golf Course on day two. His 64 put him at 11-under after an opening three-under 68 at Lions Municipal, two shots ahead of the field.
That lead would grow as the field moved over to Jimmy Clay Golf Course for rounds three and four. A third-round three-under 69 on what is considered to be the toughest course in the rotation moved Alden to 14 under par, four shots clear of his nearest pursuer Seger Howell, and five ahead of three-time city champion Brian Noonan.
Alden figured to need just a solid final round to win the tournament; anything around even par would make him really tough to catch. And for the first half of the round, Alden was solid, turning in one over.
Howell was creeping closer, however, picking up a shot to par on the front and getting to within two shots. But a double bogey on the par-five tenth restored the lead to four shots, and with Noonan unable to close any ground, Alden was back in control of the tournament. Or so it seemed.
The slide started innocently enough. Both of the par threes on Jimmy Clay's back nine play over 200 yards, and making bogey on either is not criminal. Alden bogeyed them both, however, and saw his lead shrink to two shots with three to play. Then came the crash.
Nine shots on the watery par five sixteenth. Going for the green in two from 200 yards out in the rough, Alden saw his shot nearly make the green but instead roll down into the hazard. After dropping, he then dumped a wedge shot into the water, dropped again and airmailed the green. A failed up and down and he was all the way down to seven under for the tournament, now two shots behind Howell, who with six straight pars had suddenly gone from four down to two ahead.
Just as suddenly, Ben Carter had new life. The previous day, Carter played with Alden, starting the third round only two shots back but blowing himself out of contention with a seven-over 79. He started the final round 12 shots behind the leader.
Freewheeling it in the final round, Carter picked up three shots to par on the front nine, and after making birdie on the notoriously difficult 18th hole, he posted a 68 that brought him to six under for the tournament. With Alden's misfortune at the 16th, Carter found himself only one behind Alden and three behind the new leader Howell with both of them still to play the 18th.
For Alden, the lead he had held for two-and-a-half days was gone. But like the old game of hot potato, as soon as Howell was handed the lead, he found it too hot to handle.
A bogey at the straightforward 17th removed reduced his lead to a single shot, and if there is a hole anywhere that is more stressful to play with a one-shot lead, it is the 18th at Jimmy Clay. It is 474 yards to a fairway pinched in by trees on each side and water left, with an approach to an elevated green with water left and right.
It proved to be too much for him, as his hybrid tee shot found the water left. After dropping, his long third shot also found the hazard, and while he able to play it out, he couldn't get the ball up and down and made a double bogey. This dropped him to six under, ultimately tied with Carter, Noonan, and Charles Neel White, who had fallen well back but had shot three under on the back nine.
Alden left his approach in the bunker, blasted out, and had a six-footer for par and the win, which he was able to roll in. And so Jonathan Alden was the last man standing, the 2017 Austin City Champion, finishing with a 79, seven over for the day and seven under for the tournament.
With neither of the leaders making a birdie, a four shot lead was erased in five holes, and a two shot lead was flipped in two holes.
So in the end it was Alden getting the trophy everyone expected him to get on Sunday, even if he took an unexpected detour to get it.
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ABOUT THE Austin City
72-hole stroke play championship open to all
golfers that reside in the Austin Metropolitan area.
area includes Travis, Hays, Burnet, Blanco, Caldwell,
Williamson & Bastrop counties. Played on multiple
courses in the Austin area.
View Complete Tournament Information