LAS VEGAS – Life’s a gamble – especially in Sin City.
UCLA’s Jonathan Garrick had a one-stroke lead heading into the daunting par-3 17th at Southern Highlands Golf Club during the final round of the Southern Highland Collegiate Masters on Sunday.
Tied with playing competitor Patrick Rodgers for the lead heading to the 16th, Garrick saw that the Stanford junior had to take a penalty on 16 after his ball was deemed unplayable in the trees, putting Garrick in the driver’s seat.
Garrick and the third player in the group, UNLV’s Kurt Kitayama, were already on the tee box on 17 when Rodgers made a 5-footer to salvage bogey on 16 – leaving Garrick clueless to what the two-time All-American actually posted on the par 4.
“Whether I was one shot back or one shot ahead, it really didn’t matter, I was just trying to hit a good shot in there (to No. 17),” Garrick said.
Maybe getting a bit greedy and aiming right for the flagstick at the difficult 17th, Garrick hit a tee shot where he didn’t have “a total clear picture of where I wanted to hit it” landed just short of the green and in the water. He hit 5-iron from 223 yards and he said he, “miss executed the slightest bit.”
“I paid for it,” he added.
Garrick and UCLA assistant coach Brandon Christianson decided hitting out of the hazard was a better choice than taking a penalty and hitting from the drop zone. He played it out while standing on a rock and it took him five more shots to get it to the hole – a triple bogey.
That’ll take the wind out of your sail.
“I think I made the right decision to hit it out of the hazard, but just a couple of consecutive bad shots that I couldn’t afford,” he said. “It’s pretty disappointing.”
Garrick finished in a six-way tie for second at 3-over 219 and lead the Bruins to a fourth-place finish, tied with top-ranked Alabama.
With no regrets, in the days and weeks to come, Garrick will reflect on the last few holes and realize how much he learned about his game and how he handled himself in those situations.
“The way I look at it is that I played good golf for 16 holes in the final round and I made just one bad swing that cost me so it wasn’t like the wheels came off the last four or five holes. I played solid golf the whole round and I just made one bad swing,” Garrick said. “I have plenty of positives to take away from it. I know this isn’t going to be the last time I’m in this position and although it feels like rock bottom right now, once I look back I’ll realize there are a lot of great things to take away from this week, I’ll be here again.”