By Vidur Malik
SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. (Aug. 14, 2011) -- Firm and fast greens were the great equalizer at the Santa Cruz City Amateur tournament.
DeLaveaga Golf Course wasn't forgiving to the majority of the entrants yielding putters and short irons in the 36-hole event.
Kevin Lucas of Folsom survived and took home the men's championship at his first Santa Cruz Am after the final day of play Sunday. He finished with a 1-over-par 141 total.
Cory McElyea of Santa Cruz finished second, ending the tournament with a 3-over 143.
It was the first time since 2006 that an over-par total was good enough to claim the men's championship.
Lucas, who plays golf for the University of Nevada-Reno, said he was happy with the way he broke in DeLaveaga after getting a taste of the coastal fog in the first round Saturday.
"Yesterday I was blind and in the morning there's fog and I don't know where to hit it, so I'm pretty satisfied with this only being my second round I've played here," Lucas said.
Lucas teed off with the leaders' group at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, along with Monterey's Ben Draper, Hollister's Mark Mallin and Capitola's Sean Dyer.
Draper posted an 8-over 148 and Mallin finished with an 11-over 151.
Lucas birdied DeLaveaga's infamous 10th hole to go 1 under, which put him four strokes ahead of Dyer. From there, pars and bogeys littered every hole for the leader group.
They set themselves up for birdies, but couldn't capitalize.
Dyer said making putts would have "put pressure on [Lucas] to make more putts or stick the ball a little closer." Instead, he finished with a bogey on 18 and ended the tournament with a 6-over 146.
The leaders saw several of their putts agonizingly lip out of the hole, negating any chance of a birdie. The putting struggles throughout the field allowed Lucas to stay comfortably ahead of the pack.
"I got par [on No. 17], and came in and knew I needed bogey to win, so I just kind of let the bogey happen," Lucas said of his approach on the 18th hole.
Other prominent Santa Cruz natives were singing the blues about the greens as well.
McElyea, who will be a sophomore on the University of Washington's golf team, said he has been playing at the Santa Cruz Am since he was 12 and that the course always has greens that are tough to negotiate.
"I've been playing here all my life and they always trick the greens out for this tournament, they always make it super tough," he said. "It's just a lot firmer with shots into the green and also a lot faster with putts."
After shooting a 5-over 75 on Saturday, McElyea responded with a 2-under 68, which he said was the first under-par round he has ever posted at the Santa Cruz Am.
Former Aptos resident Sebastian Crampton, a 15-year-old, soon-to-be sophomore at the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, said his great driving gave way to frustrating play on the greens.
"I think a lot of guys are walking away disappointed," Crampton said of the difficulty of the greens. "It was tough out there, so I can't complain if everyone else had the same problem I did."
While other golfers cursed the greens, Thomas Waggoner of Santa Cruz had no problem with them, before noting the pins were tough placements.
That didn't affect him too much, as the 62-year-old from Santa Cruz won the men's first flight -- a net competition -- with a 1-under 139. It was his third win overall.
Waggoner did have to endure through a triple-bogey 8 on No. 10, a hole which he said is considered "the most difficult hole on the Monterey Peninsula."
Anastacio Asuncion of Santa Cruz won the men's second flight with a 1-under 139 and Michael Stewart of Soquel won the third flight with an even 140.
Jim Knoll of Sunnyvale won the senior division with a two-over 142.
Spencer Heller of Turlock won the women's championship, shooting a 6-over 146. Alice McCarley of Las Gatos won the women's net with a 2-under 138.