Gabriel Lench walked off the 18th green at Miami Beach Golf Club on Monday knowing one thing — he had just put together an extremely well-played round.
But there was one thing he did not know – whether or not he had won the prestigious South Beach International Amateur championship.
He discovered the answer to that question a few minutes later as people continually congratulated him.
Lench, 17, started the day two strokes back of Richard James, the leader for the first three days, but overtook him and several other challengers by shooting a 4-under-par 67 in the tournament’s final round and finishing with a 272 total.
“This is my biggest event, my biggest victory,” said Lench, who has seen his game gain confidence and lose strokes after winning the Florida Amateur earlier this year.
Gabriel is a senior at Lake Mary High School and intends to attend Liberty College on a golf scholarship after graduating.
The young Lench, who has never had a golf lesson except from his dad, and the older Lench make for a formidable team on the golf course.
The South Beach event, in only its fourth year, is ranked as the 14th-best amateur tournament in the world based upon the rankings of players competing.
Lench put together a round of 14 pars and four birdies, and the longest putt he had to make to save par was six feet.
“It was a good day,” he said. “Actually, a really great day.”
Finishing second, one stroke back, was Barry University’s Adam Svensson, who was the No.1-ranked player in Division II college play last season. Svensson shot a 68 for a 273 total to edge out Ben Griffin, who shot 69 and had a 274 total.
▪ Doral-Publix Junior Classic: Chandler Morris shot a 72 for a 142 total to tie for the lead in the boys’ 16-18 flight with Ivan Ramirez Valendia of Colombia at Trump National Doral. In the girls’ 16-18, Megan Khang took a nine-stroke lead with a second-round 70.
In the boys’ 14-15 flight, Esteban Missura of Ecuador took the lead with a 72 for a 144 total. Candice Mahe of France leads by five strokes in the girls’ 14-15 flight after a 71 for a 141 total.
▪ Dixie Amateur: Temple University junior Brandon Matthew used superior driving to set up key birdies in the late stages of Monday’s final round to capture the Dixie Amateur golf tournament by five shots at Eagle Trace in Coral Springs.
“I guess it’s back to 30-degree weather,” Matthew joked after finishing with a 2-under-par 70 for a 10-under 278 total.
Georgia Tech roommates Drew Czuchry and James Clark, who finished with scores of 283 and 284, respectively, were second and third.
Matthew, a Scranton, Pennsylvania, native, entered the last round with a two-stroke lead. Czuchry started the round strong and tied with the leader entering the eighth hole.
But the 6-4, 195-pound Matthew used his long drives and responded with a birdie on the eighth to retake the lead; he gradually stretched his lead, making birdies on the 10th, 15th and 18th holes to top the field of 75.
“I never felt relaxed with the lead,” Matthew said. “My mind was always to keep my foot on the pedal.”
Coral Spring’s Daniel Whelan, a Stoneman Douglas High senior, had a solid fourth round (1-over 73), jumping from 18th place to 10th overall on his home course with a four-round score of 292.