By GARRY SMITS
St. Augustine, Florida (October 19, 2008) — The second ranked player of 2008 in theamateurgolf.com -Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings, Zach Sucher, fired a 2-under par 68 on Sunday to overcome a 3-stroke deficit and then some, winning by three at 3-under par 207.
Sucher won the St. Augustine Amateur mainly because he avoided the disasters that melted away his competition, one-by-one, on the back nine of the St. Johns Golf Club.
Don’t think he wasn’t aware that it could have happened to him on the tight layout, strewn with hazards and made even more difficult with brisk wind the entire final round. But Sucher held on with a final-round 68, giving him a three-round total of 3-under-par 207 and a three-shot victory over Bartram Trail senior Julian Suri (69) and Central Florida senior David Johnson (72).
“It was very tough out there,” said Sucher, an Alabama-Birmingham senior who is 53rd in the most recent Golfweek college rankings. “I usually like it when it’s windy but when you have a course with hazards on both sides of the hole a lot of times, and small greens, you have to work to keep your concentration.”
Sucher had to work harder than he thought on his last four holes.
He made the turn at 3-under for the tournament and a one-shot lead over Jordan Holley, then birdied the two par-5 holes on the back to lower his score to 5-under and take a four-shot lead with four to play.
However, he bogeyed Nos. 15 and 16, and Johnson birdied the 14th hole to pull within one shot.
Sucher recovered to make a 3-foot par putt at No. 17 and a two-putted for par from 40 feet at No. 18, while Johnson lost his final chance when he was short of the 16th green, chipped 15 feet short of the hole, then three-putted for a double-bogey.
“I hit a bad chip and two bad putts,” said Johnson. “That’s was the wrong time to throw away shots like that.”
Johnson wasn’t the only player to get close, then drop off with one disastrous hole.
Holley was within one shot before he made a quadruple-bogey 7 at the par-3 12th hole.
And Christopher Wolfe drove the 15th green and two-putted for birdie to get within two of Sucher, then tripled the 16th hole after hooking his tee shot in the water. Holley was victimized at the 12th hole when his tee shot landed on a mound of sand that was the result of a messy rake job from a group preceding his.
His first attempt out of the trap went only 1 foot before it landed and plugged near the lip, leaving him almost no chance to get the ball out on his second bunker shot. He finally got out in three, but then three-putted.
Suri birdied five-of-seven holes during on stretch to get into contention, but got no closer after playing the last four holes at 1-over.