McDaniel captures AZ Publinks title

The third time was the charm for Tucson’s David McDaniel who shot a final round four-over 74 en route to a one-shot victory over Phoenix’s Jordan Burgess to capture the Arizona Publinks Championship with a three-day total of one-under 209.  McDaniel, the 2009 AGA Mayfair Award winner for lowest stroke average, has been the runner up the last two years and was able to hold on for the victory going wire-to-wire for the win. Dean Hall of Avondale, who was playing a day after learning of his uncle’s passing in Australia, carded a three-over 73 and finished alone in third place at one-over 211. An interesting trio of past champions including two-time winners Ken Kellaney of Phoenix and Steve Dallas of Mesa, along with Robin McCool of Bethlehem, Penn., finished in a three-way tie for fourth at two-over 212. Kyle Kallan of Surprise and Garrett Moss of Santaquin, Utah, were tied for seventh one shot back. Defending champion and 2009 AGA Player of the Year Michael Wog II of Scottsdale and Brent Baylon of Phoenix, finished six shots back of the leader at five-over 215. “It’s just a great start to the year, as I haven’t been playing that much,” McDaniel said. “My expectations weren’t that high and I hit some good shots under pressure. It feels good to win. It’s kind of the reverse from two years ago, when I was up with a couple of holes to go and lost by one, so it’s the reverse this time.” Burgess, a freshman at South Mountain Community College, started the day eight shots off the pace. As the others fell back, he made a hard charge posting a three-under 67, the lowest round of the day. A bogey six on the 16th hole, proved to be the difference in either forcing a playoff off or taking the title outright. “It was an exciting week,” said Burgess who was playing in his first AGA tournament. “I didn’t expect to win coming from eight shots back. I just wanted to put myself in contention and play a good round and unfortunately, I was just one shot short this time. It’s not fun to lose by one, but David played pretty well this week.” McDaniel maintained his lead until the wind took an otherwise good tee shot and pushed the ball from the green into the water on the 175-yard par 3 15th hole. The resulting double bogey gave Hall a one-shot lead and tied McDaniel with Burgess. “When I hit in the water on 15 and got a double bogey, I was one shot down and I knew that could be the turning point” McDaniel said. “I tried to tell myself I was still in it and to just try and finish the round strong.” On the 16th hole, Hall maintained his one shot lead when both he and McDaniel carded pars. Burgess, playing three groups ahead of Hall and McDaniel, had bogeyed the same hole earlier to fall off the pace. Coming down to the final two holes, McDaniel regained the lead with a birdie three on the 360 yard 17th hole while Hall three putted for a bogey. Knowing all he had to do was par the final hole for victory, McDaniel lagged a 15-20 footer on the 18th for the tap in victory, while Hall posted his second consecutive bogey. “I didn’t hit the ball as well as I would have liked and kind of scrambled to keep myself in it,” said Hall. “There was a two shot swing on 15 and I took the lead. Then there was a two shot swing the other way, when he re-took the lead. Hall, 33, formerly from Australia, is a superintendent at the Golf Club at Estrella and says he was pleased with the overall result, while having played the round with a heavy heart after learning of his uncle’s passing the day before. “I was thinking about him all day,” Hall added. “I was trying to think what he would be thinking and I think he would be proud of what I did. I was hoping to be two or three shots better and I could have won it for him. It was a great feeling to be in that situation and it was kind of fun, it makes me hungry for more. It was not the result I wanted, but happy with the result the last three days. The golf course was in great conditions. Being a superintendent myself, I like to see that.”