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CGA State Amateur Final: Donovan is First State Amateur Winner From Northern California Since 1993.

Sports Editors/Golf Writers & Columnists

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.--(BW SportwWire)--June 23, 2001

Boosted by a 45-foot birdie putt on the 28th hole, Darryl Donovan of Gilroy defeated Travis Johnson of Bellflower in the 36-hole final of the CGA (State) Amateur on Saturday at Pebble Beach. In doing so, Donovan became the first Northern California winner since Casey Boyns in 1993 and only the second one in 12 years.

Donovan held a 1-up lead before he made the birdie bomb from just off the 10th green, though Johnson still had a 10-footer to halve the hole. He missed the putt in what would become the turning point of the match. From that point, Johnson didn't hit a green until the 15th hole, where Donovan clinched the match by knocking in an 18-footer for birdie before Johnson could putt.

"I think that was huge," said Donovan of the birdie on 10. "That was a huge momentum shift."

Johnson flew the 11th and 12th greens, making bogey for a loss on the 12th when he flubbed two chips. "All of those were hit perfectly," he would say later. "I wasn't amped up or anything. I just didn't play the wind correctly and a few I just hit too good."

He pulled his approach on the par-5 14th left and Donovan spun it to within a few feet of the hole. He would be given the putt when Johnson couldn't get his chip close and missed the par attempt.

Johnson, a 20-year-old UCLA junior, had taken a 1-up lead after the morning 18 that could have been much more, considering he made six birdies and an eagle. Donovan made five birdies of his own in the morning, taking a 1 up lead three times on the front nine, with Johnson coming back to tie it all three times. Johnson made a charge on the back nine, taking a 2 up lead through 17 holes, set up by a birdie on the 15th. Donovan cut the deficit to 1 up on 18 when Johnson tried to go for the green in two (as he has successfully done all week) and pulled his shot into the ocean.

The momentum swung in Donovan's favor in the afternoon round when he went on a putting streak starting at the 20th hole (Pebble Beach's second) and Johnson simultaneously hit a slump. On the par-5 second, Donovan dumped his second shot in the bunker, while Johnson hit his within 10 feet. But Donovan blasted out and made the birdie putt that halved the hole when Johnson couldn't knock down his eagle try.

A hole later, Donovan dropped in a 10-footer for birdie and made a 12-footer for birdie on the 22nd. A double-bogey on the par-3 fifth hardly fazed him, as he knocked it on the par-5 sixth in two and calmly two-putted for his fourth birdie in five holes. They halved the tough eight and ninth (26th and 27th), which gave way to the climax on the 10th green.

The two finalists were a contrast in styles and golfing background. Donovan had been playing golf long before Johnson was born, a career that included stints on numerous professional tours from 1991 to 1994. He made the cut at the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Donovan regained his amateur status late in 1998 and won the NCGA Amateur the following year.

His businesslike demeanor was a disparity from Johnson's, who remained loose throughout, constantly joking with his caddie, even when times got tough.

"It was a great experience," said Johnson, who was playing Pebble Beach for the first time this week. "I have nothing to be disappointed about. It's just a stepping stone. This is a big event but I have other goals. There are worse things to happen in the world."

"With the tradition here, to be on that trophy with those names is a wonderful thing," said the 41-year-old Donovan. "That I'm very proud of. Also, bringing the trophy back to NorCal is kind of icing on the cake. I know it means a lot to the NCGA. They're very supportive and it's great when you can come out and do something good for them."

36-HOLE CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Darryl Donovan, Gilroy, def. Travis Johnson, Bellflower, 4 and 3.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jun 23, 2001
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