Aduddell wins 88th AZ Amateur

One of the great championship matches in the 88-year history of the Arizona Amateur ended in slight disbelief on Saturday, with a one-shot penalty against his opponent on the very last hole ultimately factoring into a 1-up victory by U.S. Air Force Captain Andy Aduddell. The ruling (Rule 18-3b), which came when Washington State sophomore Michael Anderson of Phoenix mistakenly picked up Aduddell’s ball and marked it on the 18th green at the Gallery Golf Club in Marana, is only applicable to match play. Had Anderson done the same in stroke play, there would have been no penalty (Rule 18-4). Aduddell, an F-16 fighter pilot and instructor at Luke Air Force Base in Litchfield Park, probably said it best. “It was disappointing in that it wasn’t the way I wanted to win it,’’ said the 37-year-old Aduddell (pronounced “A-duddle”), who held a 5-up advantage after 11 holes only to see Anderson storm back down the stretch with four birdies and a winning par to make it all square going into the last hole on the Gallery’s North Course. “I felt like I played good enough to win, but so did Michael.’’ Anderson, knowing he could make no better than double-bogey 6 after three putts and the penalty stroke, conceded the match when Aduddell had two putts from 3 feet to win it. And he took the setback like a gentleman, admitting that he didn’t know the rule. “It was a tough loss, the second tough loss in two weeks,’’ said the 19-year-old Anderson, who had lost a playoff at the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur at Bandon Dunes just prior. “The way it ended, I had so much momentum, to have that happen, it was kind of weird. I know that it’s different in stroke play — that you can mark and pick up your opponent’s ball and put it back with no penalty — so that’s kind of a wacky rule that just applies to match play. All I know is, I’m playing some of the best golf of my life, so I can’t complain too much. To come back from so far down that was great. But (Aduddell) played great, too.’’ Rules are rules, but the sick feeling that this ending left for those involved – players, officials and those in the gallery — was much like Ernie Els’ recent win at the British Open, where Adam Scott’s demise factored in heavily, and Els was subdued during the Claret Jug ceremony. “That’s exactly how I felt about it, subdued. In fact I was thinking about that very thing (Els’ victory) afterward,’’ said Aduddell, a former University of Texas player who once was a pro before 9/11 gave him the impetus to switch careers and join the Air Force in 2002. “The whole thing (Anderson picking up the wrong ball) seemed to take place in slow motion, but yet it happened so fast. I was approaching the green in a cart, and saw him mark and pick up the ball and then put it back down. Believe it or not, I used to read the Rules of Golf quite a bit, and I knew right away that there was an issue.’’ So did Robin Farran, the Arizona Golf Association rules official that made the call.  Adding to the strangeness, both Aduddell and Anderson were playing a Titleist 3 Pro-V 1-X with a black line and a dot on it. But Aduddell’s dot was on the right side of the Titleist logo while Anderson’s dot was on the left. “I had started with a Titleist 2 but switched to a 3 somewhere during the round,’’ Anderson said. “Plus, both of our shots were to a blind green on the same line, so it was just one of those things where everything that could have gone wrong, at least for me, did.’’ Actually, it was a terrific match, as Aduddell had made six birdies through his first 11 holes to build the 5-up lead. At one point, the players combined for seven straight winning birdies, and only three holes were halved during the entire match. But Anderson, who is known as a human birdie machine, just kept rolling in putt after putt beginning at the 12th hole. Of the six birdies Anderson made on this day, none were bigger than the one that squared the match at No. 17, a short par 4 where he hit his drive into the desert and still made a “3.” “(The errant drive) was playable, and then somehow I made a perfect shot that went by the pin and spun back to four feet, and I made the putt,’’ Anderson recounted. “Then the ending just kind of took it out of me, but you learn.’’ Aduddell also said he learned a lot, mostly about the state of his game although he, too, was obviously stunned. For the record, it was his first win in 10 years and only the second tournament he had played in, having finished fourth earlier this year as a member of the AGA’s team that competed in the Lima International Golf Championship in Peru. “I guess the big lead I built early held up,’’ said the good-natured Aduddell. “I mean, 6 under through 11 (holes), well, that’s as good as I’ve got. “What does it mean to win the biggest amateur championship in Arizona? I don’t even know yet. I guess it proves to me I can still play the game a little bit. I was under par in all (six) of my matches for the week, and I did it against some really strong competition on an unbelievably tough golf course. “Honestly, I didn’t have any great expectations coming in here this week, but I’m happy about winning this tournament even if it wasn’t exactly how I imagined. And I’m very grateful to the AGA for asking me to come out and play.’’ Yes, come Monday, Captain Andy Aduddell will go back to his “day job’’ with the 56th Training Squadron. Until then, he’ll fly high as the champion of the 88th Arizona Amateur — mission accomplished! Editor’s note: According to the Rules of Golf, if you are competing in a stroke play competition and you, your caddie or your equipment touch another player’s ball, there is no penalty, and if the ball is moved it must be replaced (Rule 18-4).  In match play, there is no penalty if a player, their caddie or their equipment moves, touches, or causes their opponent’s ball to move while they are searching for it (Rule 18-3a). However, if a match-play player’s ball is moved other than during the search, the opponent who moved the ball does incur a penalty of one stroke (Rule 18-3b).  In either case, if the ball is moved it must be placed.