Sep. 10—It was a shot David Lott never would have thought he’d need to hit, but it was also one he knew he absolutely needed to execute.
Lott stood over his ball on the second playoff hole Sunday evening, the championship on the line at the 14th annual City of Aiken Amateur Championship.
He started the day with a seven-shot lead after a tournament record-tying round of 9-under 61 Saturday at The Aiken Golf Club, but he was tracked down and finally caught by two-time champion Brian Quackenbush.
Both parred the par-4 first to begin the playoff, with each of their birdie putts running out of steam on the way to the hole.
Lott’s tee shot on the par-5 second hole ended up in the left rough, and then he sent his second shot through the sunset and toward the flag — then came the applause from the spectators near the green.
Lott’s shot nestled to just 2 feet from the cup, forcing Quackenbush to have to try to chip in after his second shot came up short. The chip ran long, and then his birdie try lipped out. That one didn’t matter, though, as Lott tapped in for eagle to clinch the title.
“It feels good. I’m glad it’s over. Yeah, it was a grind today,” said Lott, who also won the title in 2020 in a playoff over Quackenbush. It’s always fun coming over to play. I look forward to this tournament every year, and Jim’s (McNair Jr.) got the course in great shape. It’s always a good time, but today I’m worn out. It felt like about 12 hours playing out there today. I kept it together somehow. It was a complete opposite of yesterday’s round.”
Lott knew his lead was three shots with the drivable par-4 14th and 15th holes coming up next in regulation. He hit good drives on both, but didn’t birdie either. Still, he felt like he was in good shape.
He stood down in the 17th fairway when he saw Quackenbush, playing in the group in front of him after an opening-round 71, celebrating from the front of the green. Lott then bogeyed the hole, leaving them tied for the lead heading to the last.
Lott still thought he had the tournament won when he struck his birdie putt on 18, only for it to break away from the hole just before it could find the jar.
Just like that, Lott was in with a 73. And Quackenbush was waiting for him after his 63 that left the duo tied at 6 under for the tournament. They greeted one another, with Quackenbush offering an explanation for how he got there — everything that didn’t go in the hole Saturday did go in on Sunday, about the opposite of Lott’s day.
“I had to regroup. I told myself I can’t lose a — it was a 10-shot lead from him,” Lott said. “I just regrouped, and I hit a great shot on the second playoff hole. I had 160 yards, and it was just a perfect 8-iron. I just grinded and just told myself, ‘Just hit one good shot today.’ And it was actually the best shot of the day.”
Kyle Bearden (66) finished third at 4 under, followed by Aiken High senior and low junior Richard Anaclerio (70) at 2 under. Austen Heider (72) was fourth at even par, followed by former USC Aiken golfer Andrew Ward (74) at 2 over.
About six hours earlier, Skye Two Hawks Skenandore (71) defended her title in the Ladies division, her 1-under total leaving her eight clear of Aiken High’s Kaylee McElwain (77).
Skenandore, who set the women’s course record last year with a 66 and won the division as a 16-year-old, said having her dad as her caddie kept her from being worried about starting the day with a two-shot lead over McElwain. He kept her mind on pretty much anything but golf, talking about life or what they were going to eat later, breaking only to talk about the shot in front of them. Though it wasn’t the score she was looking for, it still worked.
“I’m really happy with how I played,” she said. “This year, tournaments haven’t been going so well, but there’s been a lot going on throughout my life so I’m just honestly happy to be out here. The goal I did have was to shoot another course record, but I mean, I’m OK with how I played. It was good.”
Don’t count on a Skenandore three-peat, though — she said she plans on turning pro in April, and with a sponsor already lined up she intends to play full-time on the Women’s All Pro Tour next year.
Tom Kennaday (68), the 2019 champion of the Regular division, won the Senior division title at 3-under 139, finishing seven shots ahead of Jim Boughner (73). David Jett (79) won the first flight at 161.
Darrell Thompson (78) won a tightly-bunched Super Senior division at 153, two ahead of Jim Keighley (77) and three clear of Bernie Dailey (79) and Glen Hurt (79). J. Scott Petit (82) won the first flight at 165.
Drew Greene (67) won the Regular first flight at 141, Bo McCullough (70) won the second flight at 148, and Brooks Abrams (75) won the third flight at 159.
Bob Pedley (74) overcame a three-shot deficit to win the Legends division title by six over James Morrow (83).
Carrie Dillard (84) won the Senior Ladies championship at 176, and Avery Palmer (81) won the Ladies net title at 142.
McElwain and Jay McDermott, representing The Aiken Golf Club, won the Inglis Cup.