Most young golfers can only dream of winning a big tournament with a birdie on the last hole, but Rowan Sullivan won’t have to dream about it, because he did it.
The rising junior at Porter-Gaud in Charleston rolled in a three-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Forest Lake Country Club in Columbia to win the South Carolina Golf Association’s Junior championship.
“You may only get this opportunity once in your lifetime and I’m glad I capitalized on it,” said the new SCGA Junior champion.
Rowan Sullivan opened the final round with a one-shot lead over Luke Sullivan, who was playing the championship on his home course.
Rowan posted what would turn out to be the best round of the tournament when he shot a 5-under par 66 in the second round to take the lead.
Luke Sullivan and Adam Hunt both AC Flora high school golfers were tied with Mauldin’s Major Lenning for second place.
Rowan Sullivan birdied two of his first four holes to build his lead to four-shots before suffering a penalty.
Sullivan mistakenly moved some loose impediments on the fringe close to the green and was assessed a two-shot penalty cutting his lead in half.
“The penalty was on four and finding out on seven was rattling,” said Rowan. “I made sure I didn’t get off track,” he said.
Rowan Sullivan finished the front nine at one-over par and started the back nine with the same one-shot lead he began the round.
After a bogey on his second hole Luke Sullivan played the rest of his round without another blemish on his score card.
Rowan birdied the 10th hole to increase his lead back to two-shots over Luke.
The other contenders who started the final round within a shot or two of the lead could not catch either of the Sullivans.
Hunt carded a double bogey early in his final round and suffered another double on number 11 to fall of the pace.
Lenning stayed close to the leaders until a double bogey on his final hole dropped him back into a fourth place tie with Spartanburg’s Drew Harrill at 215.
Boiling Spring’s Zach Phillips shadowed the two Sullivans staying within two-shots of the lead during the final round until a bogey on 18 ended any chance for a win.
“I got off to a slow start and missed a couple of birdies early,” said Phillips. “I just couldn’t make anything happen when I had the chance,” he said after finishing third.
With the rest of the field falling behind, the Sullivans got to play the back nine like match play.
Luke Sullivan birdied 14 to get within one-shot and a great up and down par save on the next hole kept him one-back until seventeen.
“When he (Rowan) had a three shot lead I knew I had to be patient to catch him,” said Luke Sullivan. “After the second hole I didn’t make a bogey,” he said.
Rowan Sullivan opened the door for final hole drama when he horseshoed his birdie putt on the par 5 17th hole.
Luke Sullivan had another good up and down for his birdie and a tie going to the final hole.
Luke teed first and put his ball on the par 3’s green, but a long way from the cup.
Rowan used an 8-iron to eat up the pin and almost looked like it might have gone in the hole.
“My 8-iron is my favorite club. I couldn’t see it land, but I heard the crowd. It was the biggest roar I’ve had,” he joked.
Luke Sullivan couldn’t convert his long putt into a birdie, but Rowan Sullivan had a three-footer for a final hole birdie and the win.
Bouncing back from the penalty, holding off a strong challenge to win the championship with a birdie on the final hole made for a story book finish.
“This win does so much for my junior career. I get to play in the Bobby Chapman. I qualified for the US Junior and that added confidence for me. I started talking to colleges on June 15th and now I have something to brag about. I’m really excited to see where this goes,” concluded the 2021 SCGA Junior champion.
Forest Lake hosted the championship and the support the club and its members gave to the event set a new standard for the junior championship.
“I want to thank and congratulate everyone at Forest Lake for what they did to make this the best junior tournament I have seen in the over 20 years I have been with the SCGA,” said Biff Lathrop, the executive director of the state organization.
SC JGA championship scores https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga21/event/scjga217/contest/1/leaderboard.htm
Hear from the new SCGA Junior champion