When Daniel Azallion stepped up to the first tee in the final round of the SCGA Junior he thought he was in perfect position to win the championship.
After taking the opening round lead with a 7-under par 65 the Hilton Head golfer ballooned to a 75 in the second round.
He entered the final round at the Dataw Island Club trailing second round leader Trey Crenshaw from Lancaster by three shots.
“I was in my wheelhouse,” said Azallion. “All my wins have been come from behind, I kind of like that spot. Being one or two shots back doesn’t bother me,” he said.
Azallion didn’t waste any time moving past Crenshaw and Connor Fahey of Greenville to take the lead.
He carded three birdies on the front nine and was even with Crenshaw at the turn.
On the back nine, two other contenders tried to stay with the tournament leader. Seth Taylor from Gaffney had an up and down opening nine holes, but was able to keep up with Azallion and Fahey.
Brandon Masters from Piedmont, the South Carolina AAAA High School champion, made the turn at 1-under par and also was in striking distance of the leader.
Azallion had two birdies and a bogey on the back nine while Crenshaw posted two bogeys, a double and a birdie to fall two shots back.
Neither Taylor or Masters could get any closer than two shots of the future Virginia Tech golfer.
“I was keeping track of what everyone was doing. I kept checking with the live scoring guy because I wanted to know, to make sure I knew what I needed to do down the stretch,” Azallion said.
Now with the lead, Azallion bogeyed the 14th hole, but quickly made two birdies on the next two holes to build his lead to two shots.
The final challenge to Azallion’s lead came from Fahey. The Eastside High School grad in second place after draining a 50 foot birdie putt on number 15.
“I finally hit a good drive on 14 and then made the long putt. I had a chance to catch him, but when my putt on 17 lipped out that was it,” he said.
Azallion didn’t falter as the field tried to catch him. He made solid pars on the final two holes to claim his biggest victory.
“The first day (7-under par 65) I got a lot of great breaks. In the second round (3-over par 75), I didn’t play badly and I just hung in there and made a birdie on my final hole to set me up for the final round. Today, I tried not to get ahead of myself and just take it one hole at a time and one shot at a time,” said the champion.
Azallion finished the 54 hole tournament at 8-under par 208. Fahey shot a final round even par 72 for second place at 210. Crenshaw’s final round was a 3-over 75 to give him a 212 total and third place.
Taylor’s final round was 1-over par for a 213 finish while Dillon Hite from Lexington and Brandon Masters from Piedmont finished in a tie for fifth place.
Azallion adds the junior championship to his resume which includes a win at the Orange Jacket Classic and a pair of third place finishes at The Blade and the Southern Cross.
“This is a huge deal when you go back and see who has won this tournament in the past. Some of the guys are now on Tour. It means a lot to know how much time I put in to get to where I am. It feels like a big accomplishment and I’m excited,” said Azallion.
In addition to the championship Azallion also won a spot in the Sage Valley Junior Invitational and the Bobby Chapman Junior along with joining seven other South Carolina Juniors in the annual Georgia-South Carolina team matches.
The 13-14 year old division championship was won by Greenville’s Walker Jennings. Jennings started the final round tied with Pake June from Sumter.
The Christ Church golfer fired an even par 72 in the final round to break out of the tie and record a six shot victory with a 2-over par 218 total.
Jerry Bruns from Beaufort and Zach Adams from Charleston finished in a tie for second place while June dropped back to fourth place in the division.
Complete scoring is available at https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga18/event/scjga187/contest/9/leaderboard.htm