Sine holds on for second straight City Am title

Sunday’s final round of the Springfield Men’s City Amateur would have been good TV. Maybe it wasn’t Phil Mickelson charging to his first British Open crown, but it’s been a long time since the Snyder Park 18 has seen such drama.

“I think we have had a couple of them that have come down to a shot or two,” eventual champion Josh Sine said, “but I don’t think where the whole group had a chance to win.”

Sine, Chip Knuckey and Zach Fowler entered the fourth round separated by three strokes. They teed off on No. 18 separated by one stroke. Sine had a one-shot lead, so Fowler and Knuckey had to go for birdie.

Fowler never uses driver on the narrow par-4 fairway. But he did this time and was sitting 92 yards out instead of the usual 150 he settles for with a hybrid. But a tree forced him to keep his approach shot low and it landed on the fringe at the front of the green for a long uphill putt.

Knuckey had the 150 or so yards on his second shot, but he ended up with a 35-foot putt. Fowler ran his putt just past the hole and Knuckey left his about a foot short. Sine had a routine two-putt for par for his second straight tournament title and eighth overall.

“It’s a good golf tournament, and we have a lot of good players around here so it does mean something,” Sine said. “I wouldn’t play in it if I didn’t enjoy winning it. Every one of them means a lot.”

Sine wasn’t happy with missed putting opportunities for a second straight day, but he shot his third 70 of the tournament to finish at 10-under par.

“Josh played well all four days,” Fowler said. “He deserved to win.”

Knuckey entered the round one shot back and matched Sine’s 70. Fowler shot 68 for his third round of the two-weekend tournament in the 60s.

“The competition was really good,” Sine said. “I was lucky to get away with a win.”

Sine knows he’s won back-to-back titles before but he doesn’t remember when. He doesn’t even remember what year is engraved on the first of his eight silver plates. But he will remember how this one ended.

Sine birdied 11 and 13 to build a three-shot lead on Knuckey and Fowler. Knuckey left a six-foot birdie putt an inch short on 13.

Knuckey birdied 14 to trail by two. Then Fowler birdied 16. Sine’s lead shrunk to one when his second shot on 17 was blocked by a tree and he settled for bogey. Fowler nearly tied Sine on 17 when his 10-foot birdie putt lipped out.

“It was a little nerve-wracking watching that putt,” Sine said.

That lip out was Fowler’s the fifth of the day among other putts he thought would fall.

“I putted well, but they just didn’t seem to go in today,” Fowler said. “It happens.”

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