William Buhl of Fairhope ended up winning the 70th State Junior Championship at Azalea City Golf Course in Mobile after rounds of 69-67-72–208, eight-under-par, by four shots from Todd DeZoort and Alex Green, but for most of the final round the margin was a lot closer.
Tuscaloosa’s Jake DeZoort was tied with Buhl, 18, who was born in Norway, moving to the U.S. when he was five, with three holes to go, but his second shot flew 20 yards over the green on No. 16 leading to a double bogey against Buhl’s birdie and the margin was now three.
And defending champion Alex Green of Point Clear would move into a tie for second after DeZoort made bogey on the final hole.
Buhl will be a freshman on the golf team at the University of Arkansas next year and has won the State High School 3-A Individual Championship the last two years playing for Bayside Academy.
He played in his first, and last, State Junior as he will age out next year.
“The thing I learned the most today (Thursday) was patience,” Buhl said. “I found myself thinking ahead too many times and that put me in a hole on the front nine as I was pressing as I got off to a slow start.”
It was certainly an up-and-down contest between Buhl and DeZoort. After a first hole bogey, DeZoort was quickly three behind, but he had reduced the deficit to just one through seven holes. Buhl made his first birdie of the round on the tough ninth and was two ahead as they made the turn.
However, his approach flew the green on No. 10 resulting in a double bogey and a tie.
A two-putt birdie on No. 11 put Buhl back in front, before an incredible turn of events on No. 12. Buhl found tree trouble and was 25 yards short of the green in three on the par 4 12th. Staring double bogey in the face, he pitched in for an unlikely par. DeZoort made birdie and they were tied again.
“That (chip in) was the shot that kept me in it. Anything could have happened there,” Buhl said.
DeZoort birdied the next hole to take the lead for the first time, but he gave it right back with a bogey on No. 14. Things changed again on No. 15 as Buhl found the water with his second shot resulting in bogey and they were tied again.
Then came the turn of events on No. 16 which put Buhl firmly in the drivers seat.
DeZoort, who recently participated in the U.S. Junior Amateur and qualified for match play before losing on the final hole in the Round of 64, felt like he “barely missed a shot, but it just wasn’t to be.”
DeZoort will play golf for the University of Alabama in the fall of 2016.
“I had 140 yards out of the rough into 16 and it flew the green by 20 yards with a gap wedge. I couldn’t believe that. I was dead back there.
“I really felt like I could have shut the door a few times, but never made enough birdies.”
Green, who shot 64 in last year’s final round at Gadsden CC to win the State Junior by two shots from Steven Setterstrom Jr., started out strong with two birdies on the first two holes, but couldn’t get any closer and went three over par for holes 5-7. There was no coming back for him and only a late charge got him a tied for second
This was the final junior tournament for Buhl and Green, with Green set to start his college golf career at the University of Alabama next month, but DeZoort, 17, will get one more crack at it next year.
Andrew Graves of Mobile won the 14-15 age group, with Jacob LeCroy of Anniston and Connor Newton of Auburn tied for second.
Mac Scott of Birmingham won the 12-13 age group, with Birmingham’s Evans Gross second.
Click here for the scores.