No one issued a serious challenge to Andy Allen on Sunday, so steady golf carried the Augustan to victory in the 20th annual Augusta City Amateur at the Forest Hills Golf Club.
"I kept it in the fairway and didn't have any big numbers," said Allen, who had a two-birdie, four-bogey trip.
Allen, the second-round leader, closed with a 2-over-par 74 to win by four shots over a trio of golfers. For the 54-hole test, Allen finished at 1-over-par 217. He opened with rounds of 71-72.
"It helped that nobody else was playing that good," Allen said. "I wasn't hitting my irons close enough to the hole to shoot low today."
In the senior division, Augustan Ed Payne was the runaway winner. The defending Cadillac Cup senior player of the year shot 74-76-74 -- 224 to win by nine shots over Joe Felton. In this tournament, the seniors played the same tees as the rest of the field.
Allen's 74 was the highest final-round score by a winner since 1981 in this tournament. Also, the 217 total marked the first time since 1981 that the winning 54-hole score was over par.
That didn't matter to Allen, whose golf game has improved so much this summer that he hopes to make the Wake Forest golf team as a walk-on this fall. He'll be a sophomore at the Winston-Salem, N.C., school.
"I've come a long way this summer," Allen said. "I never worked on my game before this summer. I would just play for fun. This summer I've worked on my mechanics and trying to get things more precise.
"I wanted to play three solid rounds this week," Allen said. "I'm trying to get some good tournament rounds together to show (Wake Forest coach) Jerry Haas. I'd like to play there next year."
If he makes the Wake Forest team, Allen would join his cousin, Cortland Lowe, on the team. Lowe is a freshman signee.
The only thing Allen has been lacking this summer is confidence in his game. He got a shot of that three weeks ago when he shot a 4-under-par 68 at the Augusta Country Club. In his group that day was former University of South Carolina golfer Greg Scurlock and his two sons Blair and Brian, both of whom are college golfers.
"That's when I felt I was becoming a better player," Allen said. "Everybody always said I hit the ball well, but I'd never been able to hold it all together in tournament play until this week. Before, I'd be thinking about hitting it left or right. Now I just think about hitting it straight."
Allen's new-found confidence was on display on the 18th tee on Sunday. At the time, he led Jamie Felder by one shot. Felder, playing in the same group with Allen, hit first. Trying to drive the short par-4 hole's green, Felder hooked his tee shot out of bounds.
Instead of playing it safe, Allen hit a driver straight down the middle. It ended up 10 yards short of the green and led to a 4-foot birdie.
Allen overruled his caddie, Brendan Fisher, who wanted him to hit a 5-iron off the tee.
"I hit the driver really well all day," Allen said. "I'd been hitting a little fade so I figured there was no way I could go left."
As for Felder, he ended up making double bogey on No. 18 and tying for second place with fellow Augusta State golfer Enrique Penaredonda (76 on Sunday) and Nick Fleischer (72).
Penaredonda, a rising redshirt freshman who is recovering from testicular cancer, birdied the second hole of the playoff (No. 11 on the course) to finish as the runnerup.
"He made more putts than I did," Felder said of Allen. "I didn't make anything. Andy hit it pretty solid. He got up-and-down when he needed to. That's what you need to do to win."
A key stretch for Allen came early on the back nine. He birdied the par-5 11th hole with a 25-footer that was going to fast it hit the back of the hole, bounced up in the air, and then fell in. Then, on the par-4 14th hole, he saved par from the greenside bunker by holing out a 12-foot putt.
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