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The third time was the

charm for Bhavik Patel of Bakersfi eld, who captured the California State Ama- teur in late June at storied Olympic Club. The Bakersfi eld

resident failed to qualify for match play in two previ- ous State Amateurs,

but rode a hot putter to an 8-and-6 victory over Kevin Wentworth in the fi nal, the most lopsided result since 1996. Patel’s win also makes it six wins in the last seven years for Southern Califor- nians—Geoff Gon- zalez’s title at Lake Merced in 2009 the lone exception. Gonzalez and 2007 champion Josh Anderson

were the only two of nine past cham- pions to qualify for match play. As with nearly

all his matches on the week, the cham- pion established an early lead.

The #21 seed closed the morning “

When you have greens that roll well and you make a good stroke, it goes in.

” 60 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2011



round 3-up, based primar- ily on the strength of his putter and mental fortitude. Despite hitting only four of 14 fairways and eight of 18 greens, Patel carded a 73 by making the putts he needed. On 16, the long par-5, Patel canned a 10-footer for birdie matching his op- ponent who had holed out from the front bunker. “When you have greens

that roll well and you make a good stroke, it goes in,” is how Patel explained his hot putter. “And it pays to have a local caddie.” Both competitors had never played Olympic before this week and sometimes were perplexed by the fi rm greens and foggy, cold weather. Approach shots were almost routinely short throughout the fi nal match, placing a premium on the short game, an ability the champion demonstrated multiple times. “The wind swirls out here and seemed to be hurt- ing all day,” Patel said. “My short game and putter won me the match.” After the lunch break,

the rising senior at Fresno State more than doubled his lead via winning four of the fi rst fi ve holes. The 4th hole told the tale of match, as Patel hit a push-fade off the tee and Wentworth fol-

lowed him with a hook into the long weeds for a lost ball. “The door was open and I just couldn’t walk through,” Wentworth said. The 7-up lead held through the next six holes where the players matched par for par. Patel secured the champion- ship on the 12th hole, the 30th of the match, with a birdie. Wentworth managed to only win two holes on the day. The match ending early was only appropriate as only fi ve of 31 matches during the week needed the classic short par 4 fi n- ishing hole. “I just didn’t have my

game today,” the runner-up said. “I can’t take anything away from Bhavik, but sim- ple shots I made look hard.” Wentworth’s steady short game was cold throughout the day, and the Arnold resident failed to capitalize on any of the champion’s mistakes. “He made a ton of putts,” the #27 seed said. “And I wish I could have matched him.” The 27-year-old Went-

worth had never tasted the kind of success he achieved this week. To reach the fi nal, the Diablo Grande employee defeated four collegiate golfers from USC (Martin Trainer), St. Mary’s (Ben Geyer), Washington (Cory McElyea) and Sacra- mento State (Jake Johnson). Patel made the semifi - nals of the 2009 U.S. Ama- teur and in 2010 advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Public Links at Bryan Park in North Carolina. He was a fi rst team All- WAC performer and cap- tured the University of San Diego Invitational cham- pionship. In the semifi nals, he defeated home-course

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