Joe Neuheisel (AGA photo)
capped an outstanding week of golf with a 2 & 1 win over Camden Braidech
to win the 98th Arizona Amateur Championship at Desert Mountain Club’s Outlaw Course Saturday.
Neuheisel made four straight birdies from the eighth hole through the 11th, and then won the 12th to take a 5-up lead, before claiming the championship on the 17th hole.
It’s a dream week, a lot of fun, a lot of golf, but everyone who knows me knows you can’t get me off the golf course, so it was as good as it gets,” said Neuheisel, 25, who was a first alternate at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines as an amateur.
“It couldn’t have been better – this was one of the best weeks I’ve had on and off the course in a while,” said Braidech, 17, of Scottsdale. “I couldn’t have pictured a better way for this to go this week.”
In a tight match that saw hole-halving putts lip out, and approaches to a foot tied with long putts, Neuheisel jumped out to a 1-up lead with a birdie on the second hole, and extend the lead to 2-up after a par on the fifth hole. Showing off a significant length advantage off the tee, Neuheisel dropped a 157-yard approach on the par-4 eighth hole to six feet past the pin. Braidech’s second from 200 yards out landed softly in the middle of the green, but his 30-foot putt missed by a narrow margin, and Neuheisel buried his birdie putt to take a commanding 3-up lead.
“I always like to think I’m capable of good golf,” said Scottsdale’s Neuheisel, who played his college golf at Boise State and UCLA. “They say ‘horses for courses’ – I think my game suits this course pretty well. I hit it pretty straight off the tee and I’m an alright putter. So I think it was kind of the perfect storm.”
Neuheisel would extend the lead even further to 5-up through 12 after Braidech failed to get up and down from a greenside swale, but the week’s social media sensation would battle back to win three straight holes starting on the 14th. But trailing 2-up with two holes to play, Neuheisel’s conceded par on 17 ended any further comeback attempt by Braidech, and earned Neuheisel the coveted Kachina trophy as Arizona Amateur Champion.
“I built the lead, thank God, because I was leaking oil at the end,” said Neuheisel, who finished in second place (-10 over two rounds) during the Stroke Play Qualifying portion of the 98th Arizona Amateur Championship. “Camden is a great player and he made it tough on me at the end, but I’m fortunate to get it done.”
“It was awesome – I’m still trying to get recruited, working on figuring out where I want to go to school, and I think this will help that process a lot,” said Braidech, who is home-schooled as a senior and plans to play Division I collegiate golf. “It will help really the rest of my career, right? Finishing well at any tournament is going to help your confidence so this is a big boost.”
After semifinal play was suspended Friday due to inclement weather in North Scottsdale, both finalists recorded big victories when play resumed Saturday morning. Neuheisel beat reigning AGA Player of the Year Sean O’Donnell 5 & 4, shooting -7 through 14 holes in the win. Braidech, meanwhile, took down Stroke Play Qualifying Medalist Rylan Johnson 4 & 2.
ABOUT THE Arizona Amateur
The event will play host to a maximum field size of 156
players for qualifying rounds, with the field cut to the
top 64 players for the match play championship, all
competing in one division. The event will consist of a
36-hole qualifier, followed by a 64-player match play
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