HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – They call them “knee-knockers” or, when missed, something not fit for print.
They are those tricky, often slippery, six- to eight-foot putts that can save a round of golf or turn them into an ugly day of frustration.
Anthony Maccaglia will remember three putts during a Friday round of golf the rest of his life.
|DIII MEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Moore: Maccaglia wins individual title|
|Moore: Oglethorpe’s Maccaglia holds lead|
|Moore: Layout differences show early|
|Moore: Maccaglia tied for first after day one|
|Moore: Transylvania looks to regroup|
|Moore: Ogelthorpe extends lead by one|
|• Day 3: Recap|
|• Day 2: Recap|
|• Day 1: Recap|
|Leaderboard: Team | Individual|
Maccaglia, an Oglethorpe freshman, started the final round of the 2012 Division III Men’s Golf Championships with a nine-shot advantage after two rounds of 68 sandwiched around a 71. The Tampa native stood at 3-over par after four holes and was looking like he might be on his way to a disastrous round to forget.
On El Campeon’s difficult par-4, fifth hole Maccaglia sent his approach into a green-side bunker. His sand wedge stopped above the hole, leaving him a lightning-fast downhill par putt from about 3 feet. A tap, a break and Maccaglia saved his par.
The par-4 sixth saw an approach lifted long and left, leaving a delicate downhill chip. He rolled it by about 12 feet. But a nice roll saw another par save.
On the seventh hole, a 457-yard par-4, his approach came to rest short of the green. A soft chip, followed by a tough 6-foot putt resulted in another par.
Maccaglia bogeyed No. 8 but strung together four consecutive pars and led by three shots before a rain delay.
“I played about four feet of break and if I missed it [on five] it was going eight feet by the hole,” said Maccaglia. “That was a round saver. If I missed that putt I don’t want to think what would have happened. It was kind of a hit-and-hope.
“I have been making a bunch of 15-footers for par all week it seems. But the putts on five and six saved my round.”
Another Oglethorpe Stormy Petrel, Hayden Jones, made a charge on his final nine holes. A sophomore, not even a member of the starting five in the fall, Jones birdied Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 2-under for the week. When play restarted after the weather delay, he trailed his teammate by three shots with four holes to play.
After the rain delay, Maccaglia had a 200-plus yard approach shot on the par-5 fourteenth hole, a hole he had birdied two of three rounds prior this week. He nailed a 5-wood to 12 feet, then two-putted for par. Four straight pars finished the round and Maccaglia was national champion.
“The rest is history after that I guess,” said Maccaglia. “I got a chance to hit a few balls on the range before that and it was just another 5-wood. After the rain delay we played holes that were a lot easier.”
Jones took bogey on Nos. 16 and 18 after the delay and finished with 74 and six shots behind his teammate.
“I get my wisdom team pulled on Monday,” said Maccaglia. “I want to get it done. I’ll be out until about Friday and then I will get back at it. I don’t think I’m going to play that much this summer.”
This week was no fluke.
Maccaglia was rewarded with the Golf Coaches Association’s Player of the Year and its Freshman of the Year awards.
“Anthony [Maccaglia] has had a phenomenal season,” said Oglethorpe head coach Jim Owen. “I put him in the three slot that first tournament and he proved that first week that he was our No. 1 player. To come here and play like this, it’s just been a great week of golf for him. His short game is the best in the country; I think he proved that this week.”
The top 10 finishers earn All-America honors and the GCAA also honored 24 players with First, Second, and Third Team All-Americans.
Illinois Wesleyan’s Dax Reese shot a final round 69 and was 2-over for the week. He tied with Redlands’ Jeremy Sanders for third. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Tain Lee, the 2010 medlalist, was fifth at 3-over, with St. John Fisher College’s Tyler McArdell in sixth at 4-over after a solid 73 on Friday.
Emory’s Ryan Dagerman, La Verne’s Derek Zachman, Methodist’s Mike Duncan, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Brad Shigezawa, and Huntingdon’s Sam Strachan rounded out the final 10 individually. Reese was the only player to break 70 on the final day.