44-year old Howard Clendenin of Seville is the hottest amateur player in Northeast Ohio.
One week after winning the Summit County Amateur at Good Park, Clendenin won the Greater Cleveland Amateur Championship at Manakiki on Sunday, posting a 54-hole total of 8-under par 208.
He shot three straight rounds under par — 71-67-70 — on a golf course he had never seen before Friday.
The five under par 67 on Saturday put Howard three ahead of his closest pursuer going into the final round. But it wasn’t the Sunday cake-walk he experienced in Akron.
Cleveland State player Patrick Luth made three birdies in his first six holes on Sunday to pull even with Clendenin out of the gate. But Luth made an ugly bogey on eight to fall a shot back. He rebounded immediately, though, as he hit the hole with his second shot on the ninth — but then missed the short birdie putt to pull back to level.
But Clendenin helped him out with that, giving a shot back on 10 as his tee shot when left and he was stymied by the giant hill that cuts across the fairway, forcing a chip out.
After both players made a par at 11 and a birdie at the short par-5 12th, a big momentum swing took place on the par-5 13th. Luth flared his tee shot right and could only hack it out of the rough to 40 yards short of the green. Clendenin killed his tee shot down the fairway, leaving just 155 yards remaining on the par-5. But he didn’t take advantage, as he hit his second shot over the green into some deep rough. After Luth pitched past the hole 15 feet, Howard’s deep little chip shot was a hacking half-skull that went all the way across the green. It looked to be advantage Luth — until Clendenin holed out the come-back chip for birdie. Luth missed his.
The pair traded pars on the next two holes. On the 16th, where the tee was moved up to just 287 yards to entice players to try to reach the green, Clendenin drove his ball pin-high left in the fringe while Luth found the right front greenside bunker. Clendenin two-putted for birdie, and Luth had to make a great 9-footer just to save par. Clendenin led by two shots with two holes to play.
On 17, Luth drove into the trees right then scrambled for his four while Clendenin made a simple, stock par.
Then Clendenin flat-out closed the door by hitting driver on the dangerous 18th tee and smashing it right down the middle to 90 yards out. Then he hit his sand wedge on the green, just above the hole. Luth birdied the final hole to close the gap to one shot (shooting 73-68-68!), but Clendenin had no problem negotiating the final 15 feet for the Championship.
Clendenin is the first player ever to win both the Summit County Amateur and Cleveland Amateur in the same year, and his victory earns him points in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
The top ten finishers and ties earn an automatic exemption into the 2015 Cleveland Amateur at Sleepy Hollow. Sunday’s photo gallery here.
2014 Greater Cleveland Amateur Golf Championship
Manakiki Golf Course, Willoughby Hills, Ohio
August 8 – 10, 2014 | Par 72
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