It took some 15 minutes for his elation to escape, when he stepped out of a television interview, grabbed a victory Sprite and grinned.
I mean I was playing good, he practically hollered at a friend.
Crucial pars on the final two holes helped Czuchry hold on for a one-shot victory today on the final day of the three-round event at West Lake Country Club.
Czuchry shot 72 to finish at 3-under-par 213, one shot better than Max Van Dresser and Lakeside senior Kelby Burton, who fired one of the craziest 71s you will ever see. Anna Kim, of Arizona, closed a wire-to-wire win in the girls division with a final-round 76 to finish five shots ahead of a group that included Augustas Taylor Ramsey.
Czuchry, a home-schooled 17-year-old from Auburn, Ga., stuck a 6 iron to the middle of the green on the 17th, his most critical shot. The 165-yard par-3 with its front-right pin had given the final groups fits. Consider: Drew Aimone was tied for the lead when his tee shot splashed into the water for double bogey. Burton lost his first shot right, then nearly chipped in from under a tree. He made a wild par. Czuchrys playing partner, Robert Jacobson, entered the 17th tied for the lead, but made bogey from nearly the same spot as Burton.
Czuchry saved par with a 5-footer after he left his first putt short. He laid up on the 514-yard par-5 18th, wedged well above the hole and two-putted. He said he thought someone in an earlier group would have posted a better score.
I hit the ball well all week, he said. This is all new to me.
Burton absorbed post-round compliments from family and friends with an amused look on his face.
I learned a lot, he said, seeking to apply context on a round that included a triple bogey, an eagle, a self-policed penalty stroke and two difficult scrambling pars on back-nine par-3s.
Jerry Ruiz, of Mexico, who started the day with a one-stroke lead, shot 78 to fade out of the top 10.