Spencer Ralston (Photo courtesy Players Amateur)
Spencer Ralston was off the radar entering the final round of the Players Amateur. Stewart Hagestad had a five-shot lead on the next closest player, and an 11-shot lead on Ralston, who is about to enter his senior season at Georgia.
Even six shots ahead of final group, it was a remarkable day for Ralston. He had three birdies in his opening four holes at Berkeley Hall's South Course in Bluffton, S.C., and added another at the par-4 eighth to turn in 4 under. He went 5 under in the first four holes on the back nine, had another birdie at the par-5 17th and then made his only mistake of the day: a bogey at No. 18. It meant he finished the tournament at 19 under.
At the time, Ralston thought the bogey might cost him the tournament. His 9-under 63 went down as the second-lowest score of the week – behind Hagestad’s opening 61. Georgia Tech’s Noah Norton also closed with a 63.
Ralston had some time to wait around after posting it.
“I looked on my phone a little bit. We were actually watching Wimbledon as it was coming down to the end,” Ralston told Players Amateur officials. “I thought that bogey on 18 probably put me out of it by one or two but as we saw, progressing over time, they were kind of struggling down the stretch.”
Alas, Hagestad also bogeyed his final hole to fall to 18 under. Sunday was the first off-day of the week for the 28-year-old from California, back in town for the first time in 10 years after attending the International Junior Golf Academy in Bluffton as a high schooler.
After rounds of 61-66-68, Hagestad had a final-round 75. He tied for second with David Laskin, who plays for the University of Arizona, and Will Grimmer, a recent Ohio State graduate.
As for Ralston, his presence on the summer amateur circuit has been consistent. He had an early lead at the Dogwood Invitational in June, only to fall to fifth. He was T-42 at the Sunnehanna Amateur the next week and finished in the top 20 at the Northeast Amateur.
With his Players win, Ralston earned an exemption into the 2020 RBC Heritage, South Carolina’s annual PGA Tour event. He told reporters that he is looking forward to the chance to play on the PGA Tour with his friends and family watching.
“You always want people on your side and I’m sure I’ll have some friends and family here,” said the Gainesville, Ga., native. “So I haven’t looked at the dates yet but I know I’ll be busy with the spring season. I’m sure it’ll be kind of chaotic in the weeks leading up to [the Heritage] and afterwards. So I need to be in good form.”
ABOUT THE Players Amateur
While competing in the 1999 US Amateur
Championship at Pebble Beach, former US
Team members, Duke Delcher and Tom
discussed the formation of a premier 72-hole
play amateur golf tournament. The inaugural
Amateur was held the next summer. Former
Open Champion, Ben Curtis, was the winner of
2000 event. In 2004, the Heritage Classic
began running the event. The Heritage Classic
Foundation was formed in 1987 as a 501 (c) (3),
for-profit organization, it serves as the
and financial oversight group for the PGA Tour
Heritage Classic. The Foundation distributes all
charitable funds generated from the tournaments
charity. The winner of The Players Amateur gets
exemption into the PGA Tour RBC Heritage
well as the Master of the Amateurs tournament
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