A year ago at the Western Refining All-America Golf Classic, Alex Ching finished at the very bottom of the leaderboard. Oh, what a difference a year can make.
This year, the San Diego junior put together three consecutive rounds of 4-under 67 at El Paso (Texas) Country Club to win by three shots. Ching, who recently accepted an invitation to play in an early Walker Cup practice session in January, came back from second place entering the final round to score the victory.
Ching is ranked No. 87 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, but has a knack for contending at big events. He held the 36-hole lead in the past two NCAA Championships, finishing 13th in 2009 and second in 2010. Ching also made it to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur.
Georgia’s J.T. Griffin finished T-2 with Claremont Mudd Scripps’ Tain Lee at 9-under 204. Lee, a Division III player, held the first- and second-round leads before falling from the top spot with a final-round 71.
UCLA’s Gregor Main and Augusta State’s Henrik Norlander were T-4, another shot back.
The Western Refining Classic, which is made up of last year’s All-Americans, featured one of the deepest fields in history this year, as U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein (T-15) and NCAA champion Scott Langley (T-15) both were in the field, as well as five more of the top 11 amateurs in the world.