+ College Golf

Strong finish wins Upstate Am for Larkin

Matthew Larkin made a birdie, and then he heard a target number.

That was enough of a spark to send him to the title at the Upstate Amateur.

The Wofford golfer birdied four of the last six holes at Green Valley, and three of the last four, shooting a two-day total of 10-under to beat Walt Todd by a stroke.

“I went for it on 13 both days, and today I hit a good wedge shot and made the putt and made a birdie,” he said. “I heard the lead was 9-under. I knew I had some work to do.”

Wofford Senior Matthew Larkin birdied four of his last six holes to win the Upstate Amateur Championship at Green Valley. (GolfClub Photo)

That birdie on 13 might’ve been the catalyst, but there were plenty more to come.

With Todd in the clubhouse at 9-under, Larkin’s dramatic last hour played out. He birdied the 15th, nearly eagled the 16th before making another birdie, and holed a long putt for a third straight at No. 17.

“I hit it tight on 15,” he said. “On the par-5 (16), I got it up there in two and tried to make the putt, but left it short. I made about a 25-footer at 17, and knew I was at 10.”

With a three-shot deficit now a one-shot lead, Larkin played a conservative 18th and got a tap-in par, and the victory.

Larkin’s dramatic finish came on a day that wasn’t short of scoring fireworks.

With six players tied atop the leaderboard after round one, and 44 more within four shots of the lead, tournament organizer Robbie Gravely said he expected a strong showing on the day.

Wofford senior Matthew Larkin gets a jump start to his college season with a victory at the Upstate Amateur. (GolfClub Photo)

“It was fantastic, he said.”I’m quite sure 44 people felt like if they could put together a great round, they’d have a chance to win. That makes it exciting. And then when Walt posted that score, and he had rallied to go 9-under, and Matthew goes birdie-crazy at the end, that’s a pretty good script.”

The low scores were there for the taking. The Top-10 on the leaderboard was a sea of red numbers on Sunday afternoon.

Seven of the top 10 finishers shot 68 or better in the second round.

Walker Jones came in at that number, Major Lenning and Robbie Biershenk both shot 67, Larkin and Will Morlan fired rounds of 66, and Todd and Kristoffer Larsson each closed with a 65.

Larkin was able to make the most of his chances all day.

“I hit it really well on the front, I just didn’t really hit it too close,” he said. “I made one bogey, I had a 60-yard wedge shot and couldn’t get it up-and-down, but my caddie helped me re-gather myself, and I made a couple of pars to end the nine. That definitely helped with momentum.

The Upstate Amateur has turned into something of an unofficial kickoff to the college golf season, with a number of local college teams sending players to the field. Gravely said that’s a happy byproduct of the tournament’s spot on the schedule.

“I’ve been told by several of the college head coaches that this date has turned out to be the perfect date,” he said. “They’re back at school, but they haven’t started competing yet. Once they start the season, they can’t play in tournaments like this anymore. This is a way to get everybody on the team, not just the top five or six, into competition to see how they reach and how they play. This is a big-boy golf course, and it’s always in great shape. What’s happened is that when we started out, it was USC Upstate, Southern Weslyan, and Limestone who would send folks. Now Furman and Wofford and Winthrop and PC are all sending just about their entire teams.”

Upstate Amateur Championship Tournament Director Robbie Gravley congratulates Matthew Larkin on his win in the Upstate Amateur played at Green Valley (GolfClub Photo)

Larkin said he hopes he can carry some momentum from the win into the college season.

“I’m hitting it really well,” he said. “I’ve got to get the wedges dialed in a little better. I’m hitting some good putts, but not all of them are falling. Once some more start falling, I’ll be really excited about the year to come.”

Todd finished second in the tournament, with Larsson and Biershenk tied for third. Jones was fifth, Morlan and Will McGhie tied for sixth, and Ross Funderburke, Lleyton Renner, and Lenning tied for eighth.

Scores from the Upstate Amateur at Green Valley https://greenvillecga.bluegolf.com/bluegolfw/greenvillecga22/event/greenvillecga221/contest/17/leaderboard.htm

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