February 26 – There was still a lot of golf to play, but when Manav Shah tied his third shot at No. 18, the roar of the 100-strong gallery almost seemed to foresee what was to come.
The birdie shot at the par-4 final was the final piece of a notable comeback from the former Centennial high-star that turned out to be a two-shot win at the Bakersfield Open on Thursday afternoon at Bakersfield Country Club.
“That was special,” said Shah. “I’m not the emotional type. I’m usually pretty calm and relaxed on the course, but as soon as it came in I had to let it out. It felt great. I’m just grateful that I even had a chance to take the lead , and thankful for everyone who came out and watched. It was a fun day. “
After three strokes in the finals, Shah began to gain ground on his favorite track on his home course, the final four holes.
The 28-year-old screwed # 15 and then parried 16 and 17 to get his fantastic finish. After his tee shot at No. 18 was blocked by a tree, Shah hit the ball into the fairway just before the green. He calmly threw the shot onto the green and let the ball run into the cup to create a three-way tie for the lead at 7 under par.
“Fifteen to 18 are definitely my favorite holes on the course,” said Shah. “I usually have a good mood on these holes, so it’s good to be able to do that in a tournament.”
And it is not the first time that he has made such a chip. This was just a little more significant, earning him $ 20,000 for winning the event.
“I made one for not that much money,” said Shah with a chuckle. “But this one was worth a lot more than this one.”
In the meantime, the top two Colton Lapa and Jeffrey Kang still had four holes to play. Both had problems on the track.
After making 15 birdies to get Lapa to the top, Kang found trouble and turned 16, then dropped another stroke on No. 18.
The story goes on
“It’s just a tough golf course,” said Kang. “You’re in the wrong place and it’s kind of a bogey there, you lose a shot. And since the greens are so tight and fast, birdies aren’t easy. I saw the leaderboard and knew where I was. I just have It’s unfortunate, but it’s still a good week. “
Lapa, who opened the day at 7 a.m. and was consistent throughout, drove 15 and 16 bogey and 18 triple bogey to get five shots off the lead.
“Overall, I’ve played great this week, but I’ve had some tough breaks (on the final holes),” said Lapa. “I had a couple of bad jumps and my ball got stuck in a tree on the 18th. That was unfortunate, but overall it was great. Manav played great and overall it was a good tournament.”
Shah had to finish his last three holes of his second round on Thursday morning and make the most of it. After birding the par-5 15th just before dark on Wednesday, he took two more shots with a birdie on the 16th and 18th to make his first round with a 68. Shah was 7 under par for the tournament on the last four holes.
He continued his solid play on the final round, recovering from a bogey in fourth place with three birdies over the next seven holes to get his fantastic finish.
“We just wanted to get one shot as good as we could all day and that’s all we did all day,” said Shah, who won the 2018 event equal intensity, and we got to the last hole and (his caddy ) Jimmy (Sisneros) told me we needed another … and I had a really good chip. I’ve hit this chip a couple of times and it’s pretty straight once it’s on the green. So I just had a really good feeling about it and luckily it went in. “
Defending champion Matt Picanso had a solid tournament and was in competition before suffering three bogeys and one double bogey during a five-hole course. He finished the tournament with a final round 74.