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By a hair, it’s Sinclair for the Men’s City Golf title

Ross Sinclair, shown driving Sunday at Los Altos Golf Course, held on Sunday to win the Men’s City Golf Championship. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Aiden Krafft almost broke 60. “BMT” Aidan Thomas’ effort fell a hair short.

The second-round leader of the 79th Albuquerque Men’s City Championship was also its eventual champion, as University of New Mexico fifth-year senior Ross Sinclair nipped Krafft and Thomas by a shot on a toasty Sunday afternoon at Los Altos Golf Course.

Krafft set Los Altos ablaze Sunday with a remarkable 12-under par 60 that nearly led to a comeback for the ages. But Sinclair, who carded a 2-under 70, edged Krafft, a Cibola High junior, and Thomas, a New Mexico State sophomore from St. Pius, by a single shot.

Sinclair, a 22-year-old South African, finished at 12-under 204 for the 54-hole event. The victory was not secured until the tournament’s final stroke, as Sinclair drained a tricky three-foot, left-to-right slider for par on the 18th green.

“It was a sense of a little bit of pride and relief because of that putt I rolled in,” Sinclair said. He started the day with a two-shot cushion over Neil Parasher and was four clear of Thomas and Simon Miller. “It spoke to my game and what I’ve been working on with my putting.”

Ross Sinclair, right is congratulated by Simon Miller after winning the Men’s City Golf Championship Final Round held at Los Altos Golf Course. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The suspenseful final hour yielded all manner of thrills and one untimely spill.

Krafft, the 2019 Class 5A state champion, torched Los Altos in a round that featured seven birdies, three eagles and a lone bogey. He drove the par-4 17th green, knocking it in from 6 feet away for his third eagle, and closed out his brilliant day with a birdie at the 18th.

“I always feel like I can do that, that I can shoot the best round there is, but to actually do it, it’s crazy,” Krafft said. “It’s awesome.”

Krafft’s previous best round was 65, at Sandia Golf Club.

“That was an amazing round,” Sinclair said of Krafft’s 60.

Krafft posted at 11-under 205, a number that filtered its way back to the final group of the day — which included Sinclair and Thomas — when they arrived at the 17th tee.

Cibola’s Aiden Krafft. shown in action during his win in the State Boys 5A Golf Tournament held last May at The Canyon Club, shot a remarkable round of 60 on Sunday to get into contention at the Albuquerque Men’s City Golf event. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal file)

Sinclair had a 3-shot lead over Krafft at that moment and led Thomas by four.

But then Sinclair brought both of them back into the picture when he made a sloppy double-bogey at the drivable par-4 17th. He blocked his tee shot right, then shanked his second shot, which banged off a golf cart and went out of bounds.

He eventually made a 4-footer for double, which he said steadied him as he walked to the 18th tee, his lead over Krafft shaved to one.

“That showed me my nerves had cooled down a little bit,” Sinclair said.

Thomas, meanwhile, parred the 17th and was two back going to 18. Thomas made a great up-and-down from 50 yards short of the green for birdie, forcing Sinclair to make par to avoid a three-man playoff. He two-putted from about 40 feet above the hole.

“You could see that in Aidan’s eyes, as soon as I did what I did at 17, he went into the zone again,” Sinclair said of Thomas. “He has what I call BMT — big match temperament. He’s one of the best players who has it and it’s cool to watch.”

Thomas shot 67 in the final round.

“I felt like I played pretty good all day,” said Thomas. “But what was keeping me alive was my short game. … I didn’t capitalize on anything today. I was leaving stuff out there.”

That didn’t apply to Krafft, whose lone bogey, at the par-3 13th, included a bad bounce on his second shot from the greenside bunker.

Krafft was coming off a pedestrian 71 on Saturday at Arroyo del Oso and was 11 shots back of Sinclair when Sunday dawned. But he eagled both par-5s on the front Nos. 3 and 8 to get into contention.

Later, Krafft reflected on his Friday round at Ladera Golf Course, when he bemoaned three lost golf balls on tee shots in an opening 74.

Defending champion Miller (68) and Parasher (70) tied for fourth, at 10-under 206.

For Sinclair, it was his first victory in just over two years.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in that situation,” he said. “It was fun to get back at it.”

(Click here for full results.)

 

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