Eoff Defends His Title
Hot Springs Country Club - June 19, 2016
Austin Eoff wins back to back State Amateur Championships and this year he did not need a playoff. A birdie on the par-5 18th hole Sunday at Hot Springs Country Club gave Eoff the 2016 title in regulation. Eoff, a now 3 time All Big Ten Team recipient, emerged from a three-man playoff over Seth Garner and Bryon Shumate to win last year's championship at the Country Club of Little Rock. This time, he outlasted fellow competitors Kerry Lott of Dardanelle and Hope's Garrett May to secure the championship after a tight, back-and-forth final round.
May tied for the lead at 10 under after making birdie on the par-3 seventh then took the lead at No. 8 with a par when Eoff and Lott bogeyed. The lead flip-flopped when Eoff birdied No. 9 and May bogeyed, giving Eoff the lead by a stroke at 10 under at the turn. Eoff and Lott each made birdie at the par-5 10th and May stayed in contention sticking a 7-iron for an easy birdie at the par-3 11th. Eoff hooked his tee shot in the woods at the par-4 12th, took a drop and made bogey as Lott birdied to take a one-shot lead. "I don't like that hole at all," Eoff said of No. 12, a 410-yard dogleg left. "I just put a bad swing on it and felt good coming out of there with bogey." A bogey by Lott, a par save by Eoff and a par by May forged a three-way tie after 13. Eoff regained the lead with a birdie at the par-4 15th after sticking his second shot within 6 feet. A brief thunderstorm delayed play for about 10 minutes, and Lott chipped in for birdie at the par-4 16th to tie Eoff at 11 under. Three pars at the 150-yard 17th set the stage for the deciding 18th.
Eoff, 21, and Lott, 38, were tied at 11 under coming into the 520-yard final hole with May, 19, a shot behind. Eoff was in the center of the fairway with his tee shot and landed his 7-iron approach just short of the green. His pitch landed a foot from the hole, resulting in a tap-in for birdie and a one-shot victory. "I didn't really want to go in a playoff. I had enough of that last year," said Benton's Eoff, a senior at Purdue. "I knew I had to hit a tee shot good enough if I had to make eagle to win it. I felt it was in good shape, then got in between on clubs with my second, but it worked out." It worked out when Lott drove right, finding his tee shot under a tree and in between roots. Lott, who was leading the ASGA Player of the Year standings coming into the tournament, did what he could with his second shot but was still 40 yards short with Eoff sitting 5 yards off the front-hole location. Lott's third landed on the fringe and he missed his birdie chip, giving Eoff a chance to win it with a birdie.
Eoff shot a final round 4-under 68 to finish at 12 under. "I just hit my tee shot in the wrong spot at the wrong time," said Lott, who shot a 3-under 69. "A root behind, a root in front."
May, a sophomore at Baylor, tied Lott for second at 11 under after coming into the final round a stroke behind the co-leaders.
May, 19, the 2014 and 2015 ASGA Junior Amateur champion, wasn't able to defend that title this past week, but was pleased with his three rounds overall against the older competition. "It would have been nice if I had won it after winning the junior the last two years," he said. "I had my share of close calls and will be able to take a lot from this. I do know I didn't lose it. Austin definitely won it and is well deserving."
Tracy Harris of Little Rock held on to win another Mid-Senior Amateur Championship by one stroke over Jason Palecek. Harris held a three stroke lead coming into the final day and a four stroke lead over Palecek. Palecek fired a 72 to Harris’s 75 in the final round.
Ocker outlasted Stamey on the first playoff hole to win the Senior State Amateur Championship. Stamey had a three stroke lead going into the final round but, ended up shooting a final round 74. Ocker kept his momentum of his round of 71 going by birding the first playoff hole to win.
Oscar Taylor cruised to another Super Senior State Amateur Championship with a four shot win over Hall of Famer Joe Bushee.
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