PORTSMOUTH, Va. (July 10, 2011) -- Steve Liebler's summer keeps getting hotter.
After he already qualified for this month's U.S. Senior Open, Liebler won his third Eastern Amateur, defeating Mitch Gray and Will McCurdy in a playoff on a wild final round Sunday at Elizabeth Manor.
Liebler, the field's oldest player, became just the third player to win three Eastern Amateur titles. He won in 1981 and '94, and is the only player to win a title in three different decades.
"When you are 52 years old and going against kids who are a third of your age and you are able to compete, you just don't have moments like this," said Liebler, a Churchland High graduate. "I'd have to say it's one of the best."
Four-time champion Deane Beman (1960-61, 1963-64) and Tom McKnight (1993, 95, '97) are the only others to win three times.
Two days after shooting a course-record 29 on the back nine, Liebler played bogey free and shot a 5-under-par 65 to finish 12 under.
Gray, a rising senior at Campbell University, shot a final-round 64. But after bogeying 16, Gray had to birdie 17 and 18 to make the playoff.
McCurdy, a rising senior at Auburn, shot a 66 and also birdied 18 to force his way into the playoff.
In the playoff, all three hit their tee shots in the middle of the fairway at the 365-yard, par-4 first hole. Liebler placed his second shot to within 5 feet, and McCurdy's approach was almost as good, landing about 6 feet away. Gray's shot finished just off the fringe.
ABOUT THE Eastern Amateur
The Eastern Amateur is a 72 hole stroke play
event that perennially attracts a top-drawer field.
The tournament has been
played -- with the exception of 1977 and 1999 -- at
Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club. Elizabeth
Manor is a par 70 Dick Wilson design in Portsmouth,
The impressive list of winners includes U.S. Open
winners Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Andy Bean,
Hubert Green, Jim Furyk and Steve Jones. Other
notables who have played in the Eastern Amateur
are Lanny Wadkins, Arron Oberholser, Steve Marino,
Scott Hoch, Clarence Rose, Gary Koch, Bob Tway,
John Rollins, Fred Funk, Carl Petterson, Chip Beck,
Jim Simons, Ben Crenshaw, Steve Melnyk, Andy
Bean and Steve Liebler. Liebler won the who the
Eastern in three different decades and is the only
golfer to have ever qualified for the USGA Junior,
USGA Amateur, USGA Open, USGA Public Links,
USGA Senior Open and USGA Senior Amateur as
as representing his state in the USGA Team
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