Alistair Docherty Wins de Anza Desert Classic
Last updated 03/17/2017 at 4:38pm
Borrego Springs resident and favorite son golfer Damien Telles made a great effort in the third and final round of the de Anza Desert Classic to narrow a four-stroke deficit, but even his seven birdies were not enough. Alistair Docherty won the Desert Classic by two strokes over Telles, his first win in only his third event on the tour. Docherty picked up a check for $10,000, presented by Golden State Tour Executive Director Mike O’Leary.
The good news for Damien Telles is that he is currently the top-ranked tour money leader after five events and has the highest average score of 68.4. His ranking and winnings are followed by Docherty, Michael McCabe, and Matt Hansen. Speaking of money, players did not have to fork out lodging fees for three nights during the four-day event, as de Anza homeowners provided all the housing; they also followed players around the course in golf carts, a moving gallery of cheers and crowd support.
It all began with a late-afternoon horserace, players dropping out hole after hole. De Anza club pro Damien Telles had his usual smooth swing and 300-plus yard drive to start, but he lipped out his putt on the second green and was forced out of the race. In a jaw-dropping display of off-the-green chipping skills, three players who were tied on Hole-3 defied all the odds. From the same spot off the green, they each chipped up over a grassy knoll, onto a slick downhill green and into the cup. These guys are good!
Pre-daylight savings sunlight faded quickly, and competition ended in the dark on a 60-foot putt-off where onlookers had to supply lighting with their golf cart headlights. Colin Featherstone won first place, Michael McCabe came in second, and Matt Hansen finished third.
The tournament began the next morning. Telles had five birdies with no bogeys for a 66, tied for second place only one birdie (and one stroke) behind leader Joseph Harrison of Boulder, Nevada. Following his first-round match, replying to a query about a great comeback from that untimely lip-out in the horserace the afternoon before, Telles said with a grin, “That’s the difference between a horserace and the tournament.” Telles went 1-under par on the par-3’s, 2-under on par-4’s, and 2-under on par-5’s. That’s a comeback by any standard, but there were still two rounds left, so it was still anyone’s game.
With the top players like Alistair Dogherty and Damien Telles hitting 300-plus yard drives, chipping close to the pin from difficult lies, and putting lights-out on very fast greens in all three rounds, much depended on the accuracy of approach shots. Where this reporter, like a blind squirrel searching for an acorn, tries to find at best a remote edge of the green from 175 yards out, these guys are pin hunting for birdies and eagles from way down the fairway AND from the rough. It’s amazing to watch them effortless make what for me would be miracle shots, time after time. But that’s why they play for money and many of the rest of us mere mortals play for a minimum of bogeys, angst, and humiliation.
Same time next year, gentlemen.