Davis Goes Back-To-Back In The Senior Amateur
History repeated itself at the 41st playing of the SCGA Senior Amateur Championship at North Ranch CC in Westlake Village. Defending champion Craig Davis found himself eight strokes behind the leader to begin the final round, but at the end of the day, Davis was somehow holding the trophy.“It feels great because I honestly didn’t have any expectations,” said Davis, an ex-Arizona Wildcat. “I used to play here in college against USC and never played well. So, after that tough first day I was just trying to get into the top-10.”
Hometown legend Keith McLaughlin, a member at North Ranch CC, opened the tournament with two blistering rounds of 2-under 70, leaving him with an overnight lead of six strokes going into the final day. That’s when the member bounces dried up for McLaughlin, who wasn’t able to get going early, posting a 2-over 38 at the turn. He still owned a two-stroke lead heading into the back nine, but McLaughlin struggled to turn the momentum around. While Davis played a group ahead of McLaughlin, the Thousand Oaks native bogeyed No. 11 and doubled No. 12, leaving himself little room for error down the stretch. Meanwhile, Davis was charging ahead of the final group. Making the turn at 2-under, the defending champ was putting all the pressure on McLaughlin.
“After that disappointing opening round, I just tried to play as well as I could,” said an ecstatic Davis. “It’s a tough golf course so I knew other players would have a hard time scoring out there.”
After a bogey on the downhill par-5 No. 12, Davis got it right back at No. 14 with a birdie on the par-4. With the leader faulting, Davis looked to pounce and post a score in the clubhouse for the leaders to chase. He did just that, getting up-and-down from the greenside bunker on No. 18, posting 3-over for the championship.
“I just hit it really straight and drained some putts,” said Davis. “It all came together when I needed it most.”
With Davis atop the hill overlooking No. 18, McLaughlin teed his ball up on the final hole’s tee box needing a par to force a playoff. His tee ball flared right but he had an opening for his second shot into the green. McLaughlin left his approach 40 feet above the hole, leaving himself a treacherous downhill two-putt for the tie. He zoomed the first putt six feet past the hole and was unable to hit the comebacker.
With the win, Craig Davis became only the fifth player in SCGA history to win back-to-back Senior Amateur Championships, joining John Olive (2001-03), Ed Rieu (1993-94), Bud Bradley (1991-92) and Ted Richards, Jr. (1980-81).