Champion Easton Phillips (left) and runner-up Christian Schrodt
If we told you the winners of the Men's and Women's championship divisions of the San Diego Amateur finished with scores of triple-bogey and double bogey respectively, would you believe it?
Or how about somebody holing out for eagle two on the same par four from 75 yards two days in a row?
It was all that, and much more at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California, where the 36-hole AmateurGolf.com San Diego Amateur was contested over two gorgeous December days.
Let's start out with the triple bogey, followed by a redeeming playoff par in sudden-death by our champion, Easton Phillips
of Coronado. Coming down the stretch in regulation, the Coronado High School junior was riding cloud nine after stuffing his approach to a foot on No. 17 for his second-straight birdie.
of Mission Viejo, playing with Phillips for the second day in a row (after both players opened with 1-under 71) matched Phillips' birdie, but was still two back standing on the 18th tee.
When Phillips found the bunker off the tee at the very difficult 18th, and pulled his approach shot out of bounds, the door creaked open.
"i was trying to play a cut [from the bunker] and just double-crossed it out of bounds left," explained Phillips, who could only smile when told that the sudden-death playoff would start where else but No. 18.
With Phillips finishing at 1-over 145 for 36-holes, Schrodt could have won outright with a par in regulation, but he settled for a bogey, and the duo that just played 36-holes together were ready to do battle again.
The first time around, Phillips nearly holed a thirty foot birdie putt, hitting the lip and settling four feet past the hole on the lightning fast Aviara green. Schrodt muffed a chip from thick rough, and had to make a five foot bogey putt. When Phillips failed to make his come backer, Schrodt's putt got a little longer, but he nailed it and the two headed back to the tee for one more go.
This time, both players found the left fairway bunker (it's a popular spot with water guarding the right side). When Schrodt's approach from the sand found the water, Phillips was able to pull off the shot that cost him the outright victory in regulation, finding the green from 185-yards and safely two putting for the win.
Finishing in a tie for third at 2-over 146 were Ben Soicher
of Mill Valley and Ian Maspat
, the recent Pepperdine signee from San Diego. Another shot back at 147 was first round leader Luke Basile
(Thousand Oaks) along with Angelo Marcon
of San Francisco. Both players were victims of No. 18 as well, taking double-bogey there.
Indeed, among the top nine players only one made par (Soicher) and the total strokes over par was 14, for an average of 5.6 strokes. We've said it before, and it bears repeating. No. 18 at Aviara is one of the toughest closers in California.
L-R: Cameron Lee, Curtis Worley, Matt Peterson, Soran Lim
One player who could shrug off a double-bogey finish on No. 18 was our Women's champ, Cameron Lee
of Tustin. The U.C. Irvine golfer had a double-digit margin going standing on the last tee at 4-under on the day. And while a round in the 60s at Aviara would have sounded oh-so-sweet, Lee's 2-under 70 tied Basile's first round score for low round of the tournament.
We also had a female winner in the Net Division, as Soran Lim
of Villa Park recorded two steady rounds of net 77 to win by two over Michael Stephenson
The Senior Division saw a double-champ, as recently turned 65 "Super-Senior" Curtis Worley
of Coronado won the entire 55-and-over division plus the Super-Senior sub division by shooting rounds of 76 and 75 for 151 on the tournament. That total edged another Super-Senior -- Pat Rohan
of of San Diego -- by three shots.
Worley is a former San Diego State All American golfer and winner of the 1974 California State Amateur, a year that was sandwiched by winners Mike Brannan in 1973 and John Cook in 1975.
Worley made two birdies each day, and just one double-bogey on the tournament, on No. 2 today. He parred No 18 both days -- one of the only players in the field to do so.
Tied for third were Tom McKee
of Carlsbad and Dennis Martin
of Los Angeles. Martin had the best comeback of the senior division, moving right back into contention with a 1-over-par 73 on Tuesday after opening with 82 on Monday. Bruce Loman
of Newport Coast took solo fifth at 156.
I'll end with a story that is as almost as rare as making aces two days in a row. In round one, our low "Mid-Am" Matt Peterson
holed out for eagle two from 75 yards on the par four 9th. Today, he faced a similar yardage and one of the players in the group suggested he might try and do it again.
Go figure -- the Minnesota transplant jarred another one, playing the 9th hole in 4-under for two days. I'm going to bet that no other player in the history of Aviara Golf Club has done the same!
Peterson's total of 153 put him in a very respectable 17th overall against a mostly collegiate field, and leaving with the Mid-Amateur trophy and bonus money. He edged Brian Turley
by a shot.
Thanks to Cesar Hernandez, Renny Brown, Johnny Walker, Steve Shumaker, and the entire staff at Aviara for welcoming us back to their pristine course once again and helping us play a safe and fun event. We'll be back!