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2021 Silverado Amateur Golf: Cal freshman Chen wins by 4 strokes after early struggles
2021 Silverado Amateur

2021 Silverado Amateur Golf: Cal freshman Chen wins by 4 strokes after early struggles

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Tony Chen had a nightmarish start to the third and final round of the 2021 Silverado Amateur on Tuesday.

Starting the day with a two-shot lead after playing 36 holes on Monday, he was looking to try and regroup and also get his short game going after making bogeys on the second and fourth holes on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.

“It was a tough beginning. It was a struggle out there, but I grinded my way back and made some important putts,” said Chen, who is a freshman at UC Berkeley and a member of the Bears’ golf team.

The trouble for Chen, who is originally from Shenzhen, China, began on the par-3, 193-yard second hole, when he said he “chunked” a 5-iron off the tee.

“It wasn’t good at all,” said Chen. “Maybe under pressure or something. I’m not sure.”

His only other bogey of the day came on the par-4, 378-yard fourth hole.

“That wasn’t great,” said Chen.

He turned his game around after that, and in shooting a 2-under-par 70, won the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series event that drew a field of 55 players, many of whom are on college teams.

Chen won the two-day, 54-hole event by a four-stroke margin over three players, shooting a 6-under 210 total on the par-72, 6,793-yard course.

He had rounds of 71 and 69 on Monday.

“It just feels great to be winning once again,” said Chen. “It has been a while. I’ve been playing very well during the summer. It’s a good conclusion for me to end the summer.”

Chen, a graduate of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, was stellar with the putter on the back nine, rolling in birdie putts on three straight holes, Nos. 12 through 14, and two-putting from downhill to save par on the very challenging par-3, 187-yard 15th hole.

He was presented with the tournament trophy by Roy Edwards, the chairman of the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series and the head men’s golf coach at the University of Colorado.

“Three days here at Silverado. The weather was great. The golf course was in amazing condition,” said Edwards.

Looking on was Walter Chun, the Director of Men’s Golf at Cal.

During the awards ceremony, Edwards said:

“Coach Walter Chun is here. He’s got guys winning all over the world. Great job Walter. These guys always come and play this event. He’s got another great player in the pipeline here. Great playing this week, Tony Chen. Come on up, Tony. Your 2021 Silverado Amateur champion.”

It’s been a great month for Cal golf.

Collin Morikawa, who was a three-time first-team All-American at Cal before turning pro in 2019, won his second major title when he captured the 2021 Open Championship on Sunday, July 18 at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent, England. Morikawa’s caddie is J.J. Jakovac, a 2000 Vintage High School graduate, who is from Napa. Morikawa was a four-time first-team All-Pac 12 selection at Cal, the 2018 Golfweek Men’s National Player of the Year, and the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2019.

Morikawa fired a final round 66 and won by a two-shot margin at the Open Championship. He becomes the first player to win two different majors in his first attempt; he won the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco.

In winning his fifth PGA Tour title, Morikawa moves to No. 1 in the FedExCup and No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking. It was only his eighth career major championship appearance.

“I’m kind of motivated from Collin’s win as well,” said Chen.

Chen, named as a Rolex American Junior Golf Association All-American Honorable Mention selection in 2018 and selected to the AJGA Scholastic Honor Roll in 2019, becomes the third player from Cal to win a Troon Saguaro Amateur Series event at Silverado.

Finigan Tilly of San Carlos won the inaugural Grapevine Amateur at Silverado in January of 2020. Tilly led the entire way, shooting 70-69-70 –209 for an 11-shot victory, a record for the largest margin of victory in the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series. Tilly was a senior on the Cal 2020-21 team.

Costas Panay of Redmond, Washington won the Silverado Amateur in July of 2020. He shot 69-72-67 – 208 for a one-stroke win. Panay is a redshirt freshman at Cal.

“It’s always a pleasure to be here,” said Edwards. “They just do an unbelievable job here.”

Said Joe Jensen, the Director of Golf at the University of Wyoming and the vice chairman of the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series:

“I can’t give enough thanks. The staff is treating us like a Tour event. I’m very, very grateful for what Silverado has done, because we've had a good relationship with them and this team here. The golf course is in such great, great condition. The players have to know that this is Tour-like conditions they are playing.”

A birdie on the par-3, 209-yard seventh hole highlighted Chen’s opening nine of 1-over 37.

He shot 33 on the back nine, with consecutive birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 14.

“I had been waiting to make a putt the whole time. I couldn’t make a putt until then,” said Chen.

He birdied the par-4, 363-yard 12th hole with a 15-foot putt.

He made a 30-foot putt for birdie on the par-4, 413-yard 13th hole.

He rolled in a putt for birdie from 24 feet on the 389-yard, par-4 14th hole.

“It was a little hard to read. But it was it was rolling pretty well,” said Chen.

“Even though I had a pretty tough start, I try to stay with the game plan. I knew my game was good. And let it flow from there,” said Chen, who was in Florida for five years.

“It’s challenging out here.”

Chen, who spent six years in Melbourne, Australia, enrolled at Cal for the spring semester. He will be eligible to play for the Bears as a freshman starting in the fall. He’s taking an English class this summer.

“Academics and golf – that’s the goal. Academics first and golf,” said Chen, who practices and works on his game at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland.

He finished as the first alternate during a U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying on the Valley Course at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton on July 15. He finished at 9-under 135 with rounds of 69 and 66.

Only two players advanced from the qualifier to the U.S. Amateur Championship at Oakmont Country Club, in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, Aug. 9-15.

Chen was ranked No. 131 by the AJGA in high school.

In a story on the Cal Athletics website, calbears.com, announcing the 2021 signing class, on Nov. 12, 2020, Chun said:

“Tony is a remarkably driven young man who has made so many sacrifices at a young age to give himself the best opportunities to succeed in golf. Born in China, he moved to Australia when he was eight, and then moved again to the U.S. in middle school, all to help him succeed in golf. This shows his tenacity and drive to excel. Cal golf will be his next challenge, but his past experience will absolutely help him adjust and be successful at Cal.”

Three players tied for second place: Alejandro Alonso of The Woodlands, Texas (71-72-71 – 214), James Song of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (73-69-72 – 214) and Berk Harvey of San Jose (73-69-72 – 214).

Two players tied for fifth: Connor Golembeski of Redmond, Washington (74-69-72 – 215) and Gregory Solhaugh of Stavern, Norway (70-72-73 – 215).

Alajandro Gutierrez of Monterrey, Mexico was seventh (73-74-69 – 216). Joshua Hu of San Diego was eighth (73-69-75 – 217).

Four players were tied for ninth place: Daniel Nunez of Los Angeles (74-74-70 – 218), Carson Levit of San Francisco (73-74-71 – 218), Ngai Si of Macau (71-74-73 – 218) and Alfred Raja of Corvallis, Oregon (70-73-75 – 218).

Jared Stone of American Canyon finished 43rd (81-79-80 – 240).

Chen was in the 10 a.m. start time grouping with Harvey and Solhaug.

It was warm and sunny, with temperatures in the mid-70s to the low 80s, with light winds during the day.

This was the fifth event of the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series, a world-ranked amateur tournament series that offers 11 events during the 2021-22 season. There were 55 players in the field.

Silverado will host the Grapevine Amateur, a Troon Saguaro Amateur Series event, Dec. 28-30.

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