After coming close to winning the New Mexico-West Texas Men’s Amateur Championship the past two years, Aidan Thomas really wanted to come out on top in the 2022 edition.
Thomas, former St. Pius standout who plays golf for New Mexico State University, shot 2-under par-70 in the final round to finish 14-under 202, winning the NM-WT Am Championship by two strokes Sunday at Painted Dunes Desert Golf Course in El Paso. (RESULTS)
“I was telling the guys, I felt like I got the monkey off my back for the tournament,” said Thomas, 21, who will be a senior for the Aggies with two years of eligibility remaining with an extra year granted by the NCAA due to the coronavirus-shortened season in 2020. “I tied for fourth two years ago and runner-up with Sam Choi last year. I really wanted to win this one to put my name on the trophy and be with a bunch of great golfers.”
Thomas, who shot 2-under on Saturday, led wire to wire after a sensational, bogey-free 10-under 62 in the opening round on Friday. That gave him a two-shot lead heading into the second round.
“It’s been a grind to try to balance work and golf,” said Thomas, who works at Las Campanas in Santa Fe. “So the first round gave me confidence for the rest of the tournament.”
Simon Miller, the 2019 Albuquerque Men’s City champion, finished second at 12-under 204 (67-67-70).
Gustavo Morantes, a University of New Mexico men’s golf assistant coach, shot 11-under 205 (67-67-71) to finish third.
Javi Delgadillo, an El Paso Eastwood High product who will be an incoming freshman at NMSU, shot 9-under 207 (64-72-71) to tie for fourth with Damon Vilkauskas, who will be a junior at UTEP.
Delgadillo was two shots back of Thomas after the first round, and Miller and Morantes trailed Thomas by two shots entering the final round.
“The final round was stressful,” Thomas said. “I was not hitting too good. But my short game saved me and kept me in it. I was fortunate enough to come out with the victory because I was really struggling with my swing. … The first day definitely helped, but I think it was my mentality (on Sunday). I just never really got mad at myself. I stayed positive. I just moved forward.”
Thomas said he will next play in the U.S. Amateur Qualifier at his home course, the NMSU Golf Course in Las Cruces, in a 36-hole event on July 13. He’ll be vying to reach the event at the Ridgewood Country Club and Arcola Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey Aug. 15-21.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Thomas said. “This win is going to boost my confidence going forward and I have a good shot of qualifying this year.”