It's a record 23-below

Beyhan sets new standard in win

Patrick Beyhan and Sam Saunders are the closest of friends.

On Sunday, however, Beyhan took a swing at Saunders that could be felt from Albuquerque to Canada.

Defending champion Beyhan landed a pile of figurative haymakers early to knock Saunders out of contention – and Saunders’ brother out of a tournament record – during the final round of the Albuquerque Men’s City Amateur Golf Championship.

“I was just trying to get home and make as many birdies as possible,” said Beyhan, who shot a 4-under 68 at Los Altos for a five-shot win and a tournament record 23-under – breaking the previous mark of 22-under by Sam’s older brother, Steve Saunders, in 2006.

“My focus wasn’t as sharp as the last two days. I think I just got so hot at the end (Saturday), it was harder to focus today.”

Beyhan’s 54-hole total of 193 total was one higher than Steve Saunders’ score in 2006, but that was when Los Altos was a par 71. So total par for the 2006 event was 214. This year it was 216.

Beyhan, a teammate of Sam Saunders’ and fellow 2010 La Cueva graduate, shot a course- and -tournament-record (in relation to par) 61 at Arroyo del Oso in Saturday’s second round. He opened with a 64 on Friday.

“He took both us both down today,” Sam Saunders said of himself and his brother. “It’s got to feel great for him. Hopefully, I can get some redemption in the next tournament we play.”

Steve Saunders is playing on the PGA Tour Canada and was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sunday.

“That’s awesome,” he said of Beyhan’s 23-under. “His record is probably better (than mine) because Los Altos is longer now.”

Sam Saunders closed with 1-under 71 to finish runner-up at 18-under. He also was second to Alex Estrada by one shot in 2011.

Three-time champ Tim With fired the low round of the day, and low of his career in the tournament, with a 9-under 63 to take third at 11-under.

Justin Knauber (69) was fourth at 5-under, Jason Myers (68) was fifth at 4-under and James Lee (66) was sixth at 3-under.

Saunders took the opening-round lead on Friday with a 9-under 63 at Los Altos and had an 8-under 64 on Saturday at Arroyo del Oso. But he still trailed Beyhan, a rising junior on the New Mexico State golf team, by two shots entering Sunday’s final round.

Saunders looked like he could cut that deficit in half immediately on Sunday. He stuck his approach 3 feet from the pin on the par-4 first hole. But Beyhan, in a prelude of things to come, landed a sand wedge a foot from the cup. Both made the birdie putts.

Saunders almost fell back another shot on the par 5 third when he hit his drive into the fairway lake. But he still salvaged par despite the one-shot penalty.

Beyhan went right back at Saunders with birdies on No. 4 and No 5. When Saunders three-putted the latter for his first bogey of the tournament, it was a done deal.

“Once I had that first bogey and he made birdie, I was six back and knew I needed to make a whole bunch of birdies to even have a chance,” Saunders said. “Pat’s just way too solid. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t play better today.”

The birdie at No. 5 put Beyhan at 22-under, and he had a chance to go to 23-under with a 12-footer on the par 3 seventh. But he missed it 2 feet long, then missed the come-back putt for his only bogey of the event. A birdie on 8 got him back to minus-22, and his 25-footer for birdie from just off the green on No. 12 got him back to 23-under.

Beyhan then could only manage par on the final six holes. He had to make a clutch 8 footer on the 485-yard par 5 16th and a 3-footer on 17.

“I was really trying to make birdies still,” Beyhan said. “I know it might not have looked like it, but I was really trying to stay aggressive.”

Asked if he might remain an amateur and chase Ray Cragun’s record of five tourney titles, Beyhan said, “I’ll probably play next year, but after that I’m not really sure.”

If he wins next year, he’ll match the number of crowns With has. With, 41, said he was obviously pleased with his round on Sunday, but there was just too much room between Beyhan, Saunders and the rest of the field heading into the day.

“We were all laughing that we thought it was a typo on the scoreboard,” said With, who entered the day tied for third but 17 shots out of first. “We were really just playing for third.”

PRESIDENTS FLIGHT: Randy Paul Robinson shot 76 to win at 7-over. Keith Nix was second at 9-over and Travis Carpenter third at 11 over.

SENIOR FLIGHT: Mike Nelson shot a 72 on Sunday to finish 1-under and win while Rich Goff and Douglas Good tied for second at 1-over.

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