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Terra Cotta Invitational: NC State commit Caleb Surratt edges Georgia commit Maxwell Ford

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NAPLES, Fla. — Caleb Surratt had made just two bogeys and a double bogey in 47 holes of the 25th Terra Cotta Invitational presented by Workday.

But bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15 dropped him into a tie with Maxwell Ford with three holes to play.

Surratt, a 17-year-old headed to NC State, and Ford, an 18-year-old going to Georgia, struggled over the next couple of holes, and when Ford left a 40-foot birdie putt 10 feet short on No. 17 and missed it, Surratt carried a one-shot lead to the final hole at Naples National Golf Club on Sunday.

Surratt finished in style, draining a 15-foot birdie putt to win by two.

“It was definitely a tough finish for all of us — the wind started getting up,” Surratt said. “It’s a great finish with a birdie on 18; it felt really good. I’ve been working really hard for a long time and been close a lot of times, and it feels great to finally get it done.”

Ford made another bogey, so Surratt ended up with a two-shot victory at 3-under 213.

“Being tied with three holes and two holes to go, you can’t really ask for much more experience-wise,” Ford said. “You had a chance to win the tournament. I really don’t think I hit that many bad shots coming in.”

Surratt, who is from Indian Trail, North Carolina, was the only golfer in the field of 70 top amateurs to finish under par.

“One thing for me was realizing that I’ve played great golf all week — I think I’ve had the least bogeys in the field,” Surratt said. “When I make a bogey and initially be really mad, I would just try to keep the perspective that how great you’re really playing. You’re not throwing that many shots away, and just keep plugging along like you have been.”

Surratt, whose dad Brent was his caddie, had the lead from wire-to-wire, shooting a 3-under 69 in the first round, and going into the final round tied with 18-year-old Cohen Trolio. But he never gave it up.

“It kind of felt like he didn’t really miss a shot,” said Ford, who is from Peachtree Corners, Georgia.

Sunday wasn’t a good one for the Southwest Florida contingent, three of whom were in striking distance of the lead.

But James Tureskis of Florida State, who started in sixth, stumbled to a front-nine 49 on the way to an 85 and tied for 40th. Sam Kodak, an FSU commit, shot a 78 and tied for 16th. Jack Irons was in the top 10 with four holes to play but played them 5 over and finished 14th at 6-over 222. Ryan Hart, who plays for Florida, had the best round out of them, with a 2-under 70 to end up tied for 24th. He was one of only four players to break par in the final round.

Florida Gulf Coast University golfer Van Holmgren, coming off winning the ASUN tournament title Tuesday, ended up tying for 10th at 221 with an even-par 72.

Carl Santos-Ocampo, a former Community School and Notre Dame golfer, did have a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th from 169 yards with a 7-iron, and shot a 77 to tie for 40th.

Surratt birdied No. 9 to close a painstaking, three-hour front nine by the final group to take a three-shot lead to the back. And he seemed in control before the middle of the back nine when he went over the par-4 13th in two and couldn’t get up and down, then missed a 3-foot par putt on the par-5 15th.

Ford, whose twin brother David withdrew with a back injury, had caught a break on the hole when his third shot rolled into the collar of the green, and into rocks guarding the greenside water hazard, then caromed back where he could putt it. He two-putted to move into the tie.

On No. 16, a par 4, both players went over the green – Ford from the fairway and Surratt from the pine straw left. Neither got up and down.

On the par-3 17th, Ford’s shot ended up 40 feet away and left his birdie putt well short, and Surratt just missed his 15-footer.

Ford’s miss gave Surratt back the lead, and he played the 18th perfectly, laying up, and then hitting it to 15 feet.

Trolio, an LSU commit, went to the back nine tied with Ford at 2 under, but played the back nine 3 over to finish in third at 1-over 217 with former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey.

Now Surratt goes back to high school to play in the state tournament series there, and plans on trying to qualify for the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in a couple of weeks.

“I know I can compete on this level with my good golf,” Surratt said. “I have in previous amateur events. That makes it even better to get it done. We’ve worked on a lot of things that we thought would make the difference and they did this week so it feels amazing.”

Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at ghardwig@naplesnews.com. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/26/terra-cotta-invitational-nc-state-caleb-surratt-georgia-commit-maxwell-ford/

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