Bill Moore said he has always been a comeback golfer.
"I have a habit of playing poorly on front nines and then playing well on back nines," the 17-year-old from Sacramento said. "Knowing that always helps me if I get off to a bad start."
However, Moore didn't need a comeback on the back nine Tuesday during the final round of 54-hole California Junior Amateur Championship for boys under 18 at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.
After the first two rounds, both of which were played Monday, Moore had a one-over-par 145 for a four-shot lead over Bob Jacobson of Newport Beach. Considering no one had broken 70 during the first two rounds, Moore thought an even-par 72 would put him in a position to win Tuesday.
"I feel pretty good about my effort because it wasn't easy," Moore said. "There's pressure when you're leading and you feel you have to shoot par to win. You try not to think like that, but sometimes you do."
He did have a comeback of sorts, it just came right away and all on the same hole.
When he stepped to the tee at the first hole, a 515-yard par 5 with water to the right, Moore said he didn't feel nervous. Then his tee shot found the water. It was time to be a bit more nervous.
"I tried to forget about it as quickly as possible," Moore said. "I've been able to learn that once you make a bad shot, it's over. You can only go on to the next one."
Moore pulled his ball out of the water, about 260 yards from the hole, and hit a 1-iron within a few feet of the green. He chipped up and then knocked in a short putt to save par.
Moore went on to get his 72 and beat Jacobson, who shot a 75 Tuesday, by seven strokes. Moore's total was one-over-par 217. Jacobson finished one stroke ahead of Oakland's Fred Chew, who shot a 73 Tuesday, for a total of 225.
Moore attributed the championship to his play on the first hole.
"That save really helped me," he said. "Without that, it could have been a different day because I didn't want to start badly. Once I got that, I was able to relax more."
Moore went on to card birdies on Nos. 3 and 10 to go one under par overall, but bogeys at 11 and 14 pushed him back over par for the tournament.
Moore had some problems Tuesday, hitting only four fairways and nine greens in regulation. But his short game was on and his putting was precise as he had 14 pars for the round.
The first one he'll remember.