LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ (December 31, 2016) -- Well the 2016 golf calendar certainly saved some fireworks for the final day of the year. The only tournament being played on Saturday was the the Patriot All-America at the Wigwam Golf Gold Course and many of the biggest names in college golf challenged for the crown throughout the final round.
When the dust settled after a frantic final round that saw many players share a piece of the lead it was Texas A&M junior Cameron Champ surviving on the second playoff hole over Oklahoma State senior Zachary Olsen to win the title. Both players completed regulation 7-under-par.
After the players tied the first extra hole, Champ won the title with a par on the next hole. On the second playoff hole both players had birdie putts and Champ went first lagging his putt to a foot. After the miss Olsen had a 20-foot birdie putt for the win but he would ultimately miss leaving himself three-feet for par. Needing to make the come backer to stay alive Olsen shockingly missed allowing Champ to tap in for the win.
The victory for Cameron Champ also came with an extra incentive, an exemption into the Web.com Tour’s Air Capital Classic set to be played from June 23-26.
“That’s big, it’s really exciting. I’ve never played in the Web.com. I’ve tried to qualify a few times, but was never able to make it so this is really exciting to be able to play in my first one,” Champ said after his victory. “And, also my gramps who’s going to be able to caddie for me. He’s getting up there in age, I’m going to let him caddie for me. You never know when his time is up, so you know, I just wanted to give him a chance to caddie for me and have a good week.”
Champ, who earned medalist honors at the Fighting Illini Invitational in September, overcame a three-stroke deficit at the start of the round by shooting a 4-under 66. Even-par through seven holes, Champ birdied Nos. eight and nine to begin his surge and move to 5-under. Following a birdie and a bogey early on the back nine, Champ dug deep for some late heroics as he birdied the 16th and 17th holes to post 7-under.
Olsen began the day five shots off the pace and he needed to match the round of the week with a 5-under 65 to earn his way into the playoff. The round started off mundane enough with three pars before kicking into high gear with five birdies from Nos. 4-10 to progress to 7-under. An 11th hole bogey slowed Olsen's roll briefly only to get that stroke back five holes later with a birdie on the par-3 16th.
Pepperdine sophomore Sahith Theegala began the day 6-under and in first place but when he slipped up early the door was left open for the contenders. The round for Theegala began with first and third hole bogeys that quickly dropped the U.S. Amateur quarter-finalist to 4-under. However, a rebound was in store as Theegala birdied the eighth, 12th and 15th holes to reach 7-under and tie for the lead. Playing in the final group, Theegala had three chances to get to 8-under but instead he parred 16 and 17 before being done in by a final hole bogey.
In the end, Theegala shot a final round even-par 72 and posted a 6-under that forced him to settle for a third place tie with Illinois junior Nick Hardy. The Walker Cup practice session participant earlier this month began his charge with four birdies from Nos. 4-8 to reach 6-under but a bogey on the ensuing hole followed, bringing the run to a close.
Still, Hardy had worked himself into the mix and he was able to turn in 3-under 32 and 5-under overall. After starting the homeward nine birdie-bogey-birdie Hardy was back to 6-under and looking for more. Unfortunately another bogey proved to be in the cards on No. 16 and despite a birdie one hole later Hardy was unable to recover. Hardy signed for a 4-under 66.
Sean Crocker of USC shot a 4-under 66 of his own to finish in a share of fifth with Baylor freshman Cooper Dossey at 5-under. Crocker, a junior, bogeyed the first and then played flawless golf the rest of the way with birdies on the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and 15th holes.
Defending champion Branden Thornberry of Ole Miss finished tied for 14th at even-par.