SCGA Amateur Championship: Patel conquers Big Canyon

Bakersfield resident cards second-straight bogey-free round to win in comfortable fashion.

July 22, 2012|By Bryce Alderton
(Steven Georges )

NEWPORT BEACH — For a guy who never played Big Canyon Country Club before this week, Bhavik Patel sure made the 113th Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur Championship look easy.

The 21-year-old Bakersfield resident capped an impressive three days of golf with his fourth straight under-par round to finish the championship at nine-under (71-71-67-70—279), an eight-shot victory over Xander Schauffele of San Diego (68-71-74-74—287). Patel was solid as a house built on rock, with no bogeys in his final two rounds. He and Schauffele (one-under) were the only two players to finish the 72-hole event under par.

Three-time SCGA Amateur champion Scott McGihon finished third at one-over (74-74-70-71—289). Stewart Hagestad, a Big Canyon member who entered the final-round three shots off Patel's lead at four-under, tied for fourth at two-over (70-73-69-78—290) with Kevin Fitzgerald of Riverside (71-74-73-72—290). Costa Mesa resident Jake Knapp, an incoming UCLA freshman who starred at Estancia High, overcame an opening-round 78 to place sixth at three-over (78-72-71-70—291). Knapp tied Patel for the lowest final-round score.


"I wish I could have given [Patel] a run on the back nine," Hagestad said. "I played really well and I hit it really well. I just didn't hit it where I was supposed to. I had good tempo and rhythm. It is a tough golf course. When the greens are firm and fast and the wind pops up a little after you've played golf a whole bunch of times for three days in a big field in a big tournament like this is, your nerves might begin to fray a little bit. All credit to Bhavik. Even if he was playing for fun, that is such a great round."

Patel, the 2011 California Amateur champion and a prior United States Amateur semifinalist, took the lead for good on the 14th hole Saturday and played with Hagestad in the final group Sunday. Patel parred his way through the front nine, while Hagestad dropped two shots with a double-bogey on the par-three third.

On the par-four 10th, Hagestad hit his drive into the right fairway bunker. His approach landed in the left rough above a greenside bunker, which left a downhill chip. Hagestad hit a flop shot to seven feet, but missed the par putt.

Patel made his first of two birdies on the 414-yard par-four 11th hole. He drove in the fairway and his second shot settled atop a slight ridge on the green. He then sank the 12-foot birdie putt to go eight-under and take a seven-shot lead on Hagestad.

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