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Cory McElyea wins 102nd California Amateur

Courtesy of NCGA

Last Saturday Cory McElyea (pictured) was finishing up his weather-delayed second round at the 113th U.S. Open at Merion GC in Ardmore, Penn. This Saturday McElyea wrapped up a weeklong spectacular display of golf at Monterey Peninsula CC in Pebble Beach, Calif. to win the 102nd California Amateur Championship 3 and 2 over 2012 SCGA/CIF High School Champion Bryson DeChambeau.

While McElyea had a hectic week—which included flying across the country this past Sunday to California to play in this year’s championship—there’s no doubt that his experience playing on the biggest stage in golf helped him ultimately prevail as the latest California Amateur Champion.

“I think I was a lot more mentally prepared [coming into this event],” said McElyea. “Just realizing that I could play with some of the world’s best [at the U.S. Open].”

The 21-year-old Santa Cruz native took an early lead in Saturday’s 36-hole final and never looked back, leading from the third hole forward. McElyea won his first three holes Nos. 3, 4 and 6, by making pars, while DeChambeau made bogeys. On the par-3 seventh hole McElyea extended his lead further with a birdie to go 4-up. Then at the beginning of the back-nine things really looked to be getting out of hand when McElyea won the first three holes (Nos. 10-12) with a made birdie putt on No. 10, a conceded birdie on No. 11 and a conceded par on No. 12 to go 7-up.

However, the rest of the nine wasn’t smooth sailing for McElyea as DeChambeau cut his lead to 4-up at the end of the first 18 holes by winning Nos. 14, 15 and 18, two of those holes with birdies. When the second 18 holes began, DeChambeau continued his momentum by winning the second hole with a birdie and the third with a par cutting McElyea’s lead to 2-up.

“Playing with a big lead you just have to keep doing the same thing,” said McElyea. “But I didn’t feel like I was playing that bad, Bryson was just playing great, he made a lot of putts.”

The lead looked like it may have been cut down to a single hole on the par-4 sixth with McElyea under a tree in the right rough and DeChambeau in the middle of the fairway. With McElyea hitting his approach first, he advanced his shot to 20 yards short and right of the green with the flag in the back left; DeChambeau then got aggressive with his second shot and went over the green short-siding himself. McElyea was then able to get up-and-down from his location, while DeChambeau chipped to six feet and missed his par putt, going 3-down. In many ways that hole was a microcosm of DeChambeau’s day.

“It was just bad management,” said DeChambeau of the shot. “In the end I just didn’t manage my game as well as I should have.

McElyea and DeChambeau then traded holes with McElyea winning the seventh with a par and then DeChambeau winning the eighth with a birdie. Then came the shot of the day on the par-5 ninth when McElyea holed-out for an eagle from 60 yards with a 60-degree wedge to retake a 4-up lead with nine holes to go.

“That was definitely the turning point by far,” said McElyea of the importance of the shot.

DeChambeau would go on to win the 28th hole with a conceded five-foot birdie after McElyea missed his par putt, then the Clovis resident looked to be in great position to cut the lead once again to two holes, but he missed a four-foot birdie putt on the 29th hole to halve. McElyea would then win the 30th and 31st holes to go up dormie-5, but DeChambeau made back-to-back birdies on the 32nd and 33rd holes to extend the match a little further. Then on the 34th hole after DeChambeau missed a 15-foot birdie putt, McElyea had a 10-foot par putt to close out the match that found the bottom of the cup.

With his win McElyea now joins at elite group of golfers and will have his name added to the Edward B. Tufts Trophy alongside the likes of major winners Johnny Miller, Ken Venturi, Gene Littler and Mark O’Meara, and he couldn’t be more thrilled.“It’s awesome,” said McElyea. “Looking at some of those names, it’s pretty cool that my name will be etched on that trophy.”

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