Patrick Nugent had one misstep, a second-hole bogey, in his final round Sunday at the Capitol City Men’s Amateur golf championship.
Vinnie Murphy was nearly as good, with two bogeys all day. In the end, his only real mistake was thinking he might keep up with the 23-year-old Nugent.
Playing in a final-group foursome with a four-time Capitol City champion, the defending champion and first-round leader, Nugent took firm control on the back nine, riding a hot putter to a tournament-record 63, claiming his first Capitol City crown.
“I was just in the zone,” Nugent said. “Everything I looked at it seemed like I could make.”
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Nugent’s two-day total of 12-under 132 also set a tournament record and topped Murphy by three strokes. Murphy’s 68 Saturday topped the field, and he was solid again with a Sunday 67.
“He was lighting it up, especially on the back nine,” Murphy said of Nugent. “It’s hard to fight that off.”
Nugent made the turn still trailing Murphy by a stroke, but an eagle on the par-5 10th hole to Murphy’s birdie pulled him even. Then, on the par-3 1lth, Nugent rolled in a tricky downhill 10-foot birdie putt while Murphy took four out of a greenside bunker, and suddenly Nugent owned a two-stroke lead — which he never relinquished.
Nugent, a former Olympia High and Grays Harbor College golfer, followed with birdies on 12, 13 and 14 to build a four-stroke lead.
Murphy regained some swagger with birdies on 14 and 15 to climb within two shots.
Out came the dagger: Nugent, putting to a wicked back-left cup on the par-3 16th, 25 feet away, rolled in the birdie putt with authority. Murphy made par to drop three shots back with two to play.
“I was just trying to two-putt, honestly,” Nugent said. “That was the big one.”
Nugent’s victory ensured the continuation of a recent trend of no repeat winners — the last to repeat was Jon McCaslin, who went back-to-back in 2009-2010-2011.
Defending champion Casey Adams was three-over through five holes to effectively remove himself from a chance to repeat. But he righted himself, going birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle on holes 7 through 10, and he added birdies on 13, 15 and 17 to finish with a three-under 69 after a Saturday 72.
“I just didn’t get settled,” Adams said of his poor start. “I dug deep. To make that kind of comeback says a lot about where my game is at.”
He had a good view of Nugent’s record round.
“It was fun to watch,” Adams said.
McCaslin shot 69 Saturday to position himself for a fifth Cap City title, but he never found the range with his putter Sunday in a round of 71.
“I had no confidence on my putts,” he said, “not even close.”
In the end, he could only appreciate Nugent’s day.
“We weren’t beating a 63.”