Amateur Shocks Field for Win

By Marty HenwoodAugust 3, 2003, 4:00 pm
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Earlier this week, B.C. amateur star James Lepp made waves in the Vancouver media when he announced he was transferring schools this fall. On Sunday afternoon, Lepp created even bigger headlines during the final round of the Canadian Tours Greater Vancouver Classic.
 
The 19-year-old capped off a brilliant week with a 5-under 67 at Swan-e-Set Bay Resort & CC to come in with a 72-hole total of 19-under 269, a full five shots clear of Americans Mark Johnson and Nathan Fritz. Scott Hend of Australia and Chris Wall of Dallas, Texas, both took it low Sunday to finish tied for fourth - Hend shot 66 while Wall posted 65.
 
Prior to Sunday, no amateur had won a Tour title since Rob McMillan erased a six-shot deficit on the final day to win the Xerox Manitoba Open in his hometown of Winnipeg way back in 1996. Last season, American Nick Cassini had the best showing by an amateur when he finished sixth at the Texas Challenge. A few months later, Victorias Craig Doell wound up eighth in his own backyard at the Victoria Open.
 
If there were any questions as to whether or not Lepps nerves would hold up with the lead Sunday, he answered them quickly with a birdie on the opening hole. After hitting his approach to within a foot on the ninth, Lepp tapped in for birdie and made the turn three shots up on Wall. With his ball lying in a fairway bunker on number 11, Lepp knocked a 9-iron from 158 yards to the back fringe before canning the birdie putt. On the par-5 14th, Lepp, leading Johnson by three, added another birdie while Johnson struggled to a bogey. There would be no drama on this day.
 
Heading into Saturday tied for first with four others, the two-time B.C. amateur champion played with ice in his veins over the final 36-holes, shooting 11-under in that span.
 
I think the 14th was the turning point, and I figured I was in the clear, he added. I hit the back nine and it felt like home out there. Anything can happen, but I was only in control of what I could do. Right now, I cant put it into words. Im a competitor and want to win, and I was able to get it done this week.
 
Because of Lepps amateur status, Sunday also turned out to be a windfall for Johnson and Fritz, a Golf Channel exemption into the GVC. Fritzs birdie on the final hole moved him into a second place tie with Johnson, who left 25-footer for birdie on 18 short, denying him solo second. Each player took home $22,400 Cdn. The top of the Order of Merit now resembles a shampoo ad: Johnson and Johnson. Rob Johnson continues to lead with $50,850, while Mark moves into second with $44,751 in earnings. At the end of the year, the top two off the money list will be exempted into the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying.
 
Its not to often you can finish second and get money like that so I cant be disappointed, said Johnson, who had his second runner-up showing of the year. Now Ive put myself in position heading into the last two events of the year. And hand it to the kid (Lepp)- he played a hell of a round and deserves everything he is getting right now.
 
A Canadian Tour triumph will certainly add another feather into Lepps cap but will not give him incentive to turn pro early. Last years NCAA Big Ten Player of the Year will switch from Illinois to the University of Washington next year, but refuses to entertain the notion of going pro until he finishes school.
 
The win means a lot, but it isnt changing my mind-I wont turn pro until school is done, stressed Lepp, who has his father, Dan, caddying for him all week. Im excited about going to Washington, so that makes the decision a lot easier.
 
If someone told me they were going to give me $50 million a day to go pro, that is another story. That isnt going to happen, and I wont make a decision based on emotion.
 
It seemed only appropriate that Lepp wore a golf shirt Sunday with a red maple leaf and the word CANADA stitched on it. On a memorable weekend just a few kilometres from his Abbotsford hometown, James Lepp, if he hadnt already done so, clearly established himself as one of the risings stars in the Canadian golf ranks. Most people in this country are looking at Canadian Tour players such as Derek Gillespie, Rob McMillan, David Hearn and Jon Mills to make their mark on the PGA Tour once the torch is passed from the hands of reigning Masters champion Mike Weir. One of the RCGAs hottest commodities, Lepps already-impressive resume will certainly be bolstered with his triumph here.
 
That makes it a little more special knowing my name will create a lot more attention now. With that will come added pressure, and I know there will be days when I shoot 75 or 76. But Im still young and will be learning for a few more years yet.
 
Lepp will now turn his attention to the Pacific Coast and Canadian Amateur Championships. Both events will be staged in B.C. over the next two weeks.
 
The Canadian Tour takes a week off before resuming action with the Lewis Chitengwa Memorial Championship in Virginia from August 14-17.
 
NOTES: Two-time Canadian Tour champion Jason Bohn carded a final round 64 Sunday to win the Nationwide Tours Chattanooga Classic. Last month, Bohn lost a playoff heartbreaker at the Samsung CPGA Championship.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Greater Vancouver Classic
  • Greater Vancouver Classic Leaderboard
  • Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

    After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

    Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

    The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

    Getty Images

    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.