The final two holes wreaked havoc on some of the golfers near the lead Sunday, but not the winner.
Carson Young, of Pendleton, S.C., birdied the final hole for a 4-under-par total of 212 and a two-shot victory over four golfers in the third annual Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club. Augusta’s Greyson Sigg, 36-hole leader Sam Horsfield, Austin Langdale and Robby Shelton each finished at 2-under-par 214.
The 17th hole was stretched 68 yards and the green was moved back and to the left, bringing a pond into play. At the 18th, a new tee box was built and the hole now can play as long as 452 yards.
When Horsfield stumbled on the front nine on the way to his closing 75, that left the door open for Young and others to make a move. For much of the afternoon it appeared Shelton, who was a runner-up in the 2012 Junior Invitational, would take home the jacket and trophy awarded to the winner.
But Young, an 18-year-old who has committed to play at Clemson in the fall, birdied the long par-3 16th.
“That was the biggest putt, about 20 feet, and it was curling,” Young said. “I was focused on going par-par on the finish.”
After an airtight par at the 17th, he hit his drive on the final hole in the left-center of the fairway. He intended to land his 6-iron approach in the center of the green, but he pulled it slightly and it settled about 10 feet from the pin.
When he sank the putt for 2-under 70, it gave him a two-shot lead over Shelton, who was in the final group.
Shelton, the top-ranked junior by the American Junior Golf Association, torched the front nine in 3-under 33. A bogey on the par-5 10th cost him a stroke, but he made par on the next six holes.
That’s when he ran into 17 and 18.
“At 17 I didn’t realize I was in casual water,” Shelton said. “I should have thought about that. It was pretty bad over to the left. I kind of caught my clubface and tugged it left (into a bunker). The (par) putt broke way more than I thought.”
Needing a birdie to tie Young, Shelton’s approach to 18 went over the green. He made bogey and finished his round at even-par 72.
“I was just kind of trying to stick it,” Shelton said.
Horsfield, a 16-year-old native of England who now lives near Orlando, Fla., couldn’t hold onto the lead after opening with rounds of 68 and 71. His front nine of 40 left him playing catch-up.
Tournament organizers moved up tee times for Sunday and used split tees because of the forecast. There was steady rain early in the morning, but the time the leaders reached the turn, the rain had gone away.
Sigg, the only local player in the field, made the turn in 1-over but was still in contention. He birdied Nos. 12 and 13, but parred the remaining holes.
“I got hot there on the back nine but only ended up making two birdies,” the Richmond Academy senior said. “I left a couple of shots out there today, maybe, but I am pleased with my game right now.”
Sigg had a birdie putt on the 18th, but it came up short.
“It was quick, and I thought it was a little bit quicker than it was,” he said. “I hit a good putt, it just didn’t get there.”
Young was in the next-to-last grouping and played alongside his Pendleton High teammate Austin Langdale, who also is going to Clemson.
Young 3-putted the first two holes, and he knew his teammate was a good measuring stick.
“Today I was just trying to keep up with him,” Young said. “He went birdie, par and I was three behind.”
Young made birdies at Nos. 3, 7 and 8, and he caught his buddy with his birdie at the 16th.
For the week, Young played the final two holes in even-par fashion. None of the runner-ups did better than that, and no player broke 70 on Sunday.
Young was asked how big the win was for him, and at first he couldn’t put it into words. Then he paused and came up with an answer.
“I won the Carolinas Amateur last summer and I would say it was bigger than that,” he said.