University of Arizona incoming freshman Zach Pollo (Conner Penfold photo)
In the tournament's first playoff in 11 years, Whitney High School senior Zach Pollo
fended off former champion and University of Colorado freshman Dylan McDermott
to capture the 25th Memorial Amateur Championship held at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course in Carmichael, Calif.
Following a back-and-forth, three-hole aggregate playoff after finishing the 54-hole tournament tied at 4 under par 212, Pollo reflected on what the victory meant to him.
"I've been anticipating this tournament for awhile now," Pollo said. "It's a tournament I've always wanted and loved to compete in."
Pollo trailed McDermott by three entering Monday's traditional Memorial Day final round, having posted 72-71 on Saturday and Sunday. He joined McDermott in the tournament's final pairing — a fitting conclusion to the championship considering the two had been frequently playing golf together leading up to the weekend.
"We were joking about it before the round," Pollo said. "It's only fitting that we paired together, and then we went into a playoff and we didn't really know what to say. We'd basically played golf together for three weeks straight."
The extra holes began on the par-3 9th, where Pollo's long iron came up short right of the front left pin. McDermott easily two-putted from just off the green while Polo failed to get his pitch up and in. It was then on to the long par-4 10th where McDermott found tree trouble after a flailed driver. Pollo hit the green in regulation and two-putted for a straight-forward par, while McDermott's punch shot caught a tree limb and his putter let him down to close out the hole. He would make seven, flipping the advantage heavily to Pollo.
McDermott needed eagle at the drivable par-5 18th to have any chance at forcing an extra sudden-death hole, but Pollo's deep drive left him a mid-iron to the green. He striped it 20 feet beyond the American Flag pin and lagged it down the hill for a tap-in, tournament-clinching birdie.
Two-man playoff had potential for five 2022 champion Zach Pollo with tournament director John Rochelle (Conner Penfold photo)
Matching birdies on the final hole of regulation separated the eventual playoff participants from a trio of college sophomores wondering about the shots left out on Ancil Hoffman's always-challenging par-72 track.
First to sign for 3 under par was Fresno State's Matthew Sutherland
, whose final-round 67 shot him up the leaderboard. He grasped the clubhouse lead until UC-Santa Barbara golfer Rajvir Bedi
carded 2-under 70 from the second-to-last group.
Standing on the 18th tee box tied with Pollo and McDermott at 3 under was Lucas Carper
of UC Davis. His ball entered the left greenside bunker in two, leaving a delicate sand shot with the green sliding quickly to his right. He failed to cash in the uphill 20-footer, tapping in for his third consecutive round of 71.
Pollo, who will head to Tucson, Ariz. to join the Arizona Wildcats in the fall, made headlines last fall with an AJGA record-setting 60
at the AJGA Junior Open at The Bridges — a tournament he would go on to win by five.
"Certainly the 60 was the best round of my life," Pollo said. "But doing it in this event against college kids makes it feel almost better. They're both quality wins and both good in their own right. One against top juniors and one against good college players. They both mean a lot."
25 years for Vietnam veteran John Rochelle
In 1998, John Rochelle founded the Memorial Amateur for two reasons: to bring the best amateurs in the area together, and to honor and remember those who have served in the nation's armed forces.
"It brings me a sense of gratitude that I can offer a forum for these gentlemen to test their skills," Rochelle said. "When they go on to have their success, I'd like to think that I was part of that."
The past champions are a growing list of accomplished amateurs and professionals, including PGA Tour winners Derek Ernst (2009) and Cameron Champ (2014). Three-time European Tour winner John Catlin won back-to-back titles from 2011 to 2012. And others like Josh Sedeno (2015) and Alex Lee (2017) are competing on the PGA Tour's various developmental tours.
But aside from the golfing aspect that the tournament understandably yields, the event as a whole is personal matter for Rochelle, whose family has a long history of military service dating back to his paternal grandfather all the way through his three sons.
This year's running was also a special one in particular for Bill Rider, who has had his hand in Sacramento area golf tournaments for more than 20 years working events run by The First Tee of Greater Sacramento and Sacramento Golf Council, among others. He spent his last day working the Memorial Amateur putting his final calligraphic touches on the leaderboard.
"Bill is the kind of guy who will do anything," Rochelle said. "When I submit my paperwork for tee times and the field, the first thing I do is send it to Bill and he'll find the errors. He's invaluable and a true gentleman."
ABOUT THE Memorial Amateur
Founded by Vietnam Veteran John Rochelle; it's
coincidence that this first class, traditional
event takes place on Memorial Day weekend.
stroke play event w/ 36 hole cut. Field
limited to 84 players. Played on one of the
daily fee golf courses in America.
For a tournament entry form, email John
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