Alex Smalley dons the winner's jacket (AmateurGolf.com photo)
JOHNSTOWN, PA (June 16, 2018) — Duke University golfer Alex Smalley
shot an even-par final round to complete a wire-to-wire victory at the Sunnehanna Amateur, finishing the 72-hole tournament at 11-under-par.
Not bad for his first time playing the historic tournament, against a field of top-ranked amateurs, many of them with multiple Sunnehanna appearances under their belt.
Smalley began his round smoothly, making a routine par to start and then an impressive up and down at the 2nd. On the 3rd, the incoming Duke senior dropped his first bomb of the day, a 40-foot birdie effort that got him to 12-under. He had a game plan, and was sticking to it.
Final Round Highlights and Interview of Champion Alex Smalley
“I told you yesterday, I wanted to keep playing like I didn't have a cushion, Everyone thinks its tough to play with big leads and finish it off,” said Smalley.
Oklahoma University’s Quade Cummins
began the day seven shots back of the leader. Playing with Smalley, at times it looked like the Sooner might catch him. On the par-3 10th, Smalley missed his tee-shot long and left. His pitch ran all the way through the green, with Cummins in prime position to roll in a birdie. But just as it looked like there might be a swing on the leaderboard, Smalley chipped in for par, and Cummins proceeded to miss his birdie putt.
But if Cummins was a little shaken up from the events of the previous hole, he certainly didn't show it, bouncing back with an eagle three on the 11th. But once again, Smalley matched him.
“I hit a really good drive on 11; that's actually the first time I hit the fairway all week” said Smalley. “I had to hit a hook around the tree to ten feet, and then made that for eagle. That helped calm me down some more.”
Ever resilient, Cummins managed to follow up with a birdie at the 12th and when he rolled in a birdie on the 18th, he signed for a final-round 5-under 65. Ultimately though, Smalley would hold up. Though he dropped a shot at the long par-3 14th, pars everywhere else were good enough to stay ahead of Cummins, who would finish two shots back, alone in second place at 9 under par (72-68-66-65=271).
In his first Sunnehanna Amateur start, Alex Smalley has joined a select group of champions that includes PGA Tour winners and major champions. A recent example? Rickie Fowler - who won the tournament in 2007, on his way to being picked as a USA Walker Cup team member. (He backed up that win with a title defense in 2008.)
“Winning this tournament means a lot,” said the newest champion. “A lot of the guys that have won this tournament are obviously playing really well on Tour and have made really big names for themselves. The win will probably hit me in a couple more days, but this is pretty special…pretty cool.”
Next up for Smalley will be the North and South Amateur Championship, one of the nation’s elite amateur events, played at the iconic Pinehurst No. 2 since its inception in 1901.
University of Kentucky golfer Cooper Musselman
(Louisville, KY), who shot a 65 of his own in round three to get into contention, closed with a 71 to finish at 6-under (71-67-65-71=269).
John Augenstein (Owensboro, KY) and Stephen Franken (Raleigh, NC) tied for fourth at 5-under.
The 2016 champion and last year's runner-up Collin Morikawa
(La Cañada Flintridge, CA) shot himself out of contention with an opening-round 76, but battled back admirably with rounds of 66-68-67. He finished tied for 6th with Andy Zhang
(China), who made an even bigger comeback after shooting 78 in the first round.
ABOUT THE Sunnehanna Amateur
The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in
1954 -- it was the first country club
sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for
in the United States. The
tournament is played on a classic A.W.
design. Only one other amateur
tournament in the United States can list the
Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius
Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson,
Woods, and Rickie Fowler as
contestants: the United States Amateur. Its
format has been emulated by
countless amateur tournaments across the
View Complete Tournament Information