Gabe Salvanera wins wild Sonoran Amateur at Whirlwind
2022 Sonoran Amateur champion Gabe Salvanera
2022 Sonoran Amateur champion Gabe Salvanera

The inaugural Sonoran Amateur was not lacking in drama on Sunday at the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz.

Gabe Salvanera defeated Angelo Marcon on the first playoff hole by draining a 20-foot par putt after both players tied at 14-under 202 in regulation, culminating a wild two hours of golf on Whirlwind's Devil's Claw Course.

Salvanera, Marcon and Steve Sugimoto staged a three-way battle all day, with each player having their hands on the trophy at some point during the round.

Marcon began the day with a share of the 36-hole lead at 10-under par, while Salvanera was just one back and Sugimoto was just two off the pace.

Sugimoto, who plays collegiately at the University of San Diego, looked like he might run away with the tournament when he birdied five of his first six holes out of the gates en route to an outward nine of 30, moving to 13-under. However, a shakey back nine, which featured bogeys on 11 and 12 along with a double on 16, led to a final round 68 and a 12-under score of 204.

Salvanera and Marcon took advantage of Sugimoto's struggles down the stretch by running off a string of birdies on the closing holes.

Marcon, a native of San Francisco who plays collegiately at Notre Dame, birdied his last four holes to go from 10 to 14-under while Salvanera made birdies on 15, 16 and 17 to move to the top of the leaderboard at 15-under. Just when it looked like the Arizona State sophomore was going to win the tournament outright, he made a bogey on the par-4 18th to slip into a playoff with Marcon.

Salvanera and Marcon went back to the 18th tee, much to the delight of Devil's Claw who was not quite finished tormenting the two combatants.

Both players hit their tee shots into separate bushes and while Marcon was able to chop his ball back into the fairway, Salvanera was forced to take an unplayable lie penalty. After hitting solid approach shots, the two players had looks at pars. Putting first, Salvanera drained his 20-footer while Marcon's putt to tie missed on the left side.

"After shooting 9-under the second day and seeing the leaders were only 10-under through 36 holes, I knew I just needed to post a good score today to win," said Salvanera. "Throughout the final round, I was playing decent up until the last hole when I made bogey and ended up in a playoff.

"Over the putt, I just told myself to put a good stroke on it and let gravity do the rest," said Salvanera. "Fortunately, it went in and I was able to secure the win."

It was Salvanera's second victory in as many months on the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series as he captured the Desert Amateur at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club in early December.

Sugimoto managed a birdie at 17 and finished two shots back at 12-under and tied for third with Shea Lague, who closed with a final round 65. Trey Bosco and Jared Strathe finished three shots out of the playoff at 11-under. Hudson Weibel, the 36-hole co-leader, shot a final round 72 to finish in seventh place.

Results: Sonoran Amateur
1AZGabriel SalvaneraQueen Creek, AZ30072-63-67=202
2CAAngelo MarconSan Francisco, CA20071-63-68=202
T3CASteve SugimotoSan Diego, CA10066-70-68=204
T3CAShea LagueJamul, CA10070-69-65=204
T5TXTrey BoscoAustin, TX10070-66-69=205

View full results for Sonoran Amateur

ABOUT THE Sonoran Amateur

Introduced in 2022, the Sonoran Amateur is part of the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series, and is open to amateur golfers who meet the eligibility and exemption requirements which include position in various rankings, USGA appearances, and state amateur and mid-amateur champions. Maximum handicap 3.0.

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