2021 Christmas Classic champion Scott Raber
captured a wire-to-wire victory at the 2021 AmateurGolf.com Christmas Classic, but it took some late-round scrambling to complete it.
The Davis, Calif. native had to fight through three straight bogeys starting on hole 14, all the while Connor Golembeski
was busy birdieing four of his last six to post the lowest score of the tournament.
Raber, who wasn’t scoreboard watching, was staring down the barrel of a fourth consecutive bogey when his third at the par-5 17th shot over the green from a tight, dirt-ridden lie.
“I ended up in kind of a weird spot left of the green,” Raber said. “I could have tried getting it close, but with it sitting on the sand the last thing I wanted was to get too cute and end up in the front bunker where it probably would have plugged on me.”
The 50-yard shot scurried over the green, leaving Raber a dicey downhill chip to the front pin location. He trickled it down to tap-in range with ease, moving on to the 18th where he navigated a pair of trees affecting his approach into the closing par-4.
“My playing partner Ben Corfee
and I won the NCGA Four-Ball [back in 2015] but from an individual perspective, this is probably my biggest amateur victory,” Raber said.
Golembeski, a junior at the University of California-Berkeley, surprisingly left the par-5 17th off his list of closing birdies. A final circle on the scorecard on 18 gave him the clubhouse lead.
So what was the key to rattling off eight birds and nearly coming from seven back to win the tournament?
“I think it was just keeping the ball below the hole,” Golembeski said of his final-round 66. “I struggled with that yesterday on the back nine, which led to a lot of bogeys. So I made a point of it today.”
Golembeski’s teammate Simon Kwon
was in the final pairing alongside Raber, and had opportunities on 17 and 18 to draw level and force a playoff but missed the green from short yardage on 17 and failed to roll in a 20-footer for birdie at the 18th. Still, impressive rounds of 69 and 72 gave the freshman from Salt Lake City, Utah a runner-up finish alongside his Cal teammate.
* * * * *
Michael Staskus Michael Staskus and Charles Richesin
made a couple of early bogeys but closed at two-under in his final 12 holes, including a birdie at the last to secure victory. He began the day four back of Cory Synnestvedt
and Corey West
but slowly climbed the leaderboard with his steady string of pars throughout the day.
Synnestvedt tied for second alongside Tony Ralph
, while West finished in a three-way tie for fourth with Fred Mills and Charles Richesin. The latter of the two claimed the Super Senior title with rounds of 75 and 78.
* * * * *
Kristen Lee posted the only red-figure outside of the championship flight and used it to earn a three-shot win in the Net Division. Lee, who played collegiately for Chapman University in Orange, Calif., fired a 70 on Sunday that included an eagle at the par-5 15th.
First-round co-leaders Marc Sanders and Scott Henrikson took second and third place, respectively, after they were unable to follow up their 73s from Saturday.
ABOUT THE AGC Christmas Classic
>> TOUR PORTAL
The Christmas Classic was
founded by 2-time
California State Amateur Champion Casey
Boyns over 20 years ago and it always
a great field. This is our most popular event,
and year in and year out it sells out. Field
limited to 104 players; Championship, Senior,
and Net divisions.
Your entry fee includes two rounds of
(cart at players expense), $4500 in
Callaway Golf certificate prizes,
$20 lunch certificate,
weekend at one of the Monterey Peninsula's
wonderful classic courses, "Old" Del Monte.
For players aged 16 and over who have a USGA or
equivalent index of less than 5.5
For players age 50 and over (as of the tournament
date) with a handicap index of less than 8.0. Note:
Must be 55 and over for NCGA Senior Points.
For players 16 and over with handicap between 5.5
MID-AM (subdivision of Championship)
For players age
25-49. Compete alongside the younger players in the
Championship Division, (same tees, same prize
opportunities) and if there are at least six Mid-Ams,
separate prize and trophy will be awarded.
SUPER SENIORS (subdivision of Senior)
For players age
65+. Compete alongside the younger senior players
Senior Division, (same tees, same prize
opportunities) and if there are at least six players 65
separate prize and trophy will be awarded for low
WOMEN (subdivision of Championship)
Will play in the Championship
Division but from a shorter tee; if there are at least
six women in
the field, a separate prize and trophy will be
awarded. Net players will
play in the Net Division but from a shorter tee.
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