Taylor Haden (Courtesy of SCGA)
It wasn’t decided until the final stroke of the final hole, but Taylor Haden clinched the 2022 Southern California Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship at Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena, Calif. on Tuesday. The 39th edition of this championship had the kind of fireworks ending that all competitions deserve.
Three players in the final group at Annandale stepped onto the par-5 18th tee box all tied at even par with just 539 yards left between them and history. Mark Strickland
had been in control since making the turn but carded an untimely bogey on No. 17. Both of Strickland’s playing partners, Torey Edwards
and Taylor Haden
, capitalized on the miscue and made birdies to level the leaderboard with just one hole remaining.
For Haden, the final hole was the first time in 53 holes he held a share of the top spot. Edwards, meanwhile, had held the overnight lead and didn’t surrender it until the 10th hole of the championship round. Now they had both caught Strickland with a chance to force a playoff or win it outright.
To make things even more dramatic, all three players reached the green in regulation with good looks at birdie. But it was Haden who took the catbird seat after he stuffed a wedge four feet below the hole. Haden would dodge a pair of bullets as both Strickland and Edwards two-putted for par leaving the stage set for a walk-off, championship putt. And Haden buried it in right in the heart to become to the 2022 SCGA Mid-Amateur champion.
"It felt great. Even though (I hit it) pretty close I was still pretty nervous," Haden said. "I saw the other guys putt around it so I felt pretty good about the read."
Haden’s victory is equal parts comeback and equal parts clutch. Coming into the final round, he trailed the lead by two strokes. After just two holes on Tuesday, he was four back. But Haden stayed patient, racked up gutty pars, and made his made his move when it mattered most. Over his three rounds, Haden played 17 and 18 at a combined five-under-par.
"It feels amazing," Haden said. "I did not think this would happen at all. After the birdie on (No.) 17, I felt pretty good coming into (No.) 18 and fortunately hit a pretty good wedge shot towards the end and knocked it close."
Haden, a first-time SCGA champion, slayed some serious giants in the field. Damon Krause won the Mid-Am in 2019 and finished tied for fourth with Logan Lanier, just three shots back. Haden’s playing partners, Strickland and Edwards, who finished tied for second, are accomplished winners, too. Edwards won the event in 2020 and shot a 58 at Annandale in 2020. Strickland was a college golfer at Wake Forest, a 2021 U.S. Senior Open qualifier, and a two-time Georgia Mid-Am champion.
The win for Haden means a 10-year exemption to the Mid-Am, an exemption to SCGA Amateur Championship, and an exemption to the California Amateur Championship.
ABOUT THE SCGA Mid-Amateur
The SCGA Mid-Amateur Championship is open to
members ages 25 and older with a Handicap Index
of 5.4 and below. Competitors undergo 18 holes of
qualifying play in order to reach the final field of 84
players. In the Championship, players compete over
54 holes of stroke play with the top 42 players and
ties advancing after 36 holes to the final round.
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