Magnolia, TX – Some cloud cover and a light breeze gave the players some relief from the heat, but High Meadow Ranch Golf Club still posed a formidable challenge for players in the final round of the South Amateur Championship. The day started looking good for the leader after two rounds, Juan Salcedo of The Woodlands, as he took a four stroke lead going into the final round. But in the end, it was James Kwon of Houston who finished victorious as 20 foot chip shot from the front fringe of the 18th green found its way into the bottom of the hole to give the SMU Golfer a one stroke victory.
Kwon walked up to the first tee of the morning looking to overcome what looked like a insurmountable four stroke lead by Salcedo. There wasn’t much action on the front nine, as both players weren’t able to make any kind of move either way. Salcedo made a costly double bogey right off the bat on the par 4, 3rd hole but was able to gain his composure and birdie the par 5, 4th. Kwon in the meantime didn’t take much advantage of the double bogey by Salcedo as he was only able to escape the 3rd hole with a bogey gaining only one shot on the leader. Kwon was able to also birdie the 4th hole but slid back again with a bogey on the par 3, 5th hole.
Pars the rest of the way to the turn left Kwon gaining only one stroke with three strokes to make up and nine holes to play. The back nine was different story all together as Kwon set his game on cruise control making par on the next eight holes while Salcedo unfortunately went in the other direction. Four consecutive bogeys from the 13th hole through the 16th hole by Salcedo left Kwon now with a one stroke lead with two holes to play. Both players were able to par the 17th hole leaving Salcedo needing to make something happen on the final hole. Both players found the fairway off the tee with Juan to hit first to the green. A smooth iron shot was able to find the middle of the green leaving Salcedo with a 30 foot putt as Kwon was left 137 yards to the green and a tricky front hole location tucked behind a water hazard protecting the entire front edge of the green. Kwon’s approach shot sailed right at the flagstick but barely cleared the hazard landing softly just off the front of the green inches from rolling back in the hazard.
With 20 feet of fringe and green standing between his ball and the hole, Kwon was able firmly bump the ball on the green striking the flagstick causing the ball to fall straight down into the hole. Although that shot at that moment guaranteed Kwon victory, the shot proved to be key as Salcedo was able to make his 30 footer for birdie as well. The victory gives James an exemption into the 2011 Texas Amateur Championship being held at Austin Country Club next year. Exemptions were also earned by Juan Salcedo as well as third place finisher, Kip Guidry of Missouri City.
James Kwon, Houston, 71-70-72--213
Juan Jose Salcedo, The Woodlands, 70-67-77--214
Kip Guidry, Missouri City, 72-70-73--215
Brandon Wilhide, Richmond, 77-73-68--218
Michael Whitehead, Sugar Land, 72-76-70--218
John Dowdall, Houston, 76-70-72--218
Bob Kearney, Houston, 71-71-76--218