Trent Phillips has won big tournaments at every level he has played.
He was an 8-year old World Champion, a South Carolina junior champion, a high school champion, an amateur champion and a college tournament champion.
With all those wins, his victory this week at the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur tops them all.
Phillips took a 1-shot lead into the final round and made it stand up to win the 68th playing of this ‘major’ amateur championship.
While there were some amazingly low scores turned in during the 72 hole event Phillips played steady golf. He was the only player in the field to shoot all 4-rounds in the 60s.
The University of Georgia rising senior from Inman opened the tournament with a 1-under par 69. It left him 3-shots behind co-leaders Max Steinlechner from NC State and Illinois golfer Jerry Ji.
In the second round, Karl Vilips from Stanford, who like Phillips won a Bobby Chapman Junior championship at The Country Club of Spartanburg, took the lead after shooting a 5-under par 65.
Phillips shot a 2-under par 68 to trail the leader by 4-shots at the half way point in the tournament.
In the third round, Phillips shot his best round of the tournament, a 4-under par 66. The All-SEC golfer made 5-birdies, including two on the back nine with putts of less than 5-feet.
Vilips shot a 1-over par 71 to drop back, but was only a shot behind Phillips going into the final round.
Neither golfer got off to a great start in the final round.
Vilips shot himself out of contention with four bogeys and a double on the front nine to make the turn behind Phillips by 6-shots, but Phillips 1-over par 36 opened the door for Ian Siebers.
The Duke freshman started out 3-shots behind Phillips, but playing in front of the leader, Siebers took over the lead with his birdie on the fifth hole.
His lead only lasted a short time. Phillips ran off 4-birdies in his next 5-holes to retake the lead and get to 9-under par. He hit every fairway in his final round.
Siebers tacked on his final birdie on the 15th hole to get within one, but he and Phillips parred their remaining holes to give the Georgia All-American the biggest win of his amateur career.
This was Phillips’ fourth time playing in the event and he told Mike Mastovich of the Johnstown Times-Democrat experience made the difference.
“Experience definitely played a big role for me this week, especially knowing once you make the turn there are some birdie holes you really have to take advantage of, – and I did that today,” he told Mastovich.
The youngest winner in the history of the Palmetto Amateur at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken counted on that experience to help him on the back nine after an up and down start in his final round.
“Experience out here is huge. I really highly doubt many first-timers come here and win. It’s just one of those golf courses you’ve got to know where to hit it. It’s 6,400 yards and it looks very eye-opening and easy to attack. But, man, when you get on the greens, it’s something else,” he said.
Clemson’s All-ACC golfer Jacob Bridgeman shot a final round 4-under par 66 to finish in 6th place. Gamecock golfer Ryan Hall got as high as 3rd place in the tournament before finishing in a tie for 11th place.
Phillips joins a long list of Palmetto State golfers to capture the Sunnehanna title.
Jack Lewis won the tournament in 1966 while Furman’s Brad Faxon won the 1982 championship and Hilton Head amateur Duke Delcher was the winner of the 1997 tournament.
Clemson grad Dillard Pruitt won the title twice, first in 1983 and then almost 20 years later in 2002.
Clemson golfers won 4-straight titles, Lucas Glover – 2001, Pruitt – 2002, Matt Hendrix – 2003 and Jack Ferguson in 2004.
The last winner with ties to South Carolina was Gamecock grad Will Murphy in 2014.
The major amateur title will help Phillips improve his standings in the World Amateur Ranking. The victory vaulted Phillips into 6th place in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com standings.
Sunnehanna Tournament for Champions Scores https://sunnehanna.org/