Christianson handles heat

Rick Devereux

After 130 shots through 35 holes of golf in two days, the 32nd annual

Costa Mesa city championship at Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club came

down to the final hole on the Los Lagos course Sunday.

Brandon Christianson, from Valencia, birdied the 522-yard, par-5

18th to shoot 3-under-par 69 and win the 36-hole championship flight

by one stroke. Christianson (65-69 -- 134) edged Fullerton's Sam

Morgan (67-68 -- 135), who carded the lowest score (68) in Sunday's

final round of the championship flight.

But Morgan played in the group ahead of Christianson, so

Christianson had no knowledge of Morgan's rise until the last hole.

Christianson applied pressure to Sasan Shahi, the leader after

Saturday's first round, and took the lead for good on the 13th hole.

From there, everything went right for Christianson and he cruised

into the final hole at 7-under with a four-stroke lead over Shahi.

But as Christianson stepped toward the tee box, word came in via a

walkie-talkie to a tournament official.

"Do you want to know?" asked the official.

"Sure, I want to know," Christianson replied.

That's when he found out he was tied for the lead with Morgan at

7-under.

Christianson, who admitted to feeling lots of pressure on the tee

box, blasted the ball 357 yards down the center of the fairway. He

hit a 9-iron to the back of the green and chipped his third shot

within three feet of the hole to set up a tournament-winning birdie

attempt.

"I was just thinking about hitting it into the center of the

hole," Christianson said.

Christianson, Morgan and defending champion Adam Marshall (68-70

-- 138) were the only three players to shoot under par (70-72 -- 142)

for both days.

Christianson said two holes on the back nine were critical to his

victory. Heading into the par-4 13th, Christianson and Shahi were

tied at 8-under. Christianson drove his ball to the left of the

fairway, setting up a 120-yard shot.

Shahi's drive went to the right where a line of trees separates

the 13th and 17th fairways. His second shot clipped a branch and

dropped well short of the green. Shahi closed out the hole with a

double-bogey and Christianson finished with a par.

"That was a huge turning point," Christianson said.

On the dogleg-left par-5 14th, it looked like Shahi might be able

to make up at least one stroke because Christianson's second shot

landed in the rough, short and to the right of the green, while

Shahi's landed in the middle of the fairway, 20 yards short of the

green.

Huntington Beach resident Robert Caton's chip stopped within two

feet of the hole, bringing up Christianson, whose chip looked like it

was going to sail past the green. The ball landed on the green and

hit Caton's ball. Christianson's ball then gently rolled nearly to

the top of a ridge near the back of the green before reversing course

and settling in almost the exact place Caton's ball originally sat.

Caton was allowed to place his ball where he thought it was before

Christianson's ball hit it.

Instead of looking at a par or possible bogey, Christianson had

another birdie. Shahi two-putted for par.

"That was strategic for [Christianson]," Caton said. "It didn't

hurt me at all, but it was really good for him."

Christianson had a three-stroke lead with four holes remaining and

was gaining momentum with every swing.

"Those two holes in a row gave me all the confidence that this was

my tournament to win," he said. "If my ball doesn't hit [Caton's], I

would have been [in trouble]. My ball would have been way over that

ridge."

Shahi shot a 4-over 39 on the back nine, but still tied for fourth

overall (64-75 -- 139) with Jeff Thomas (67-72 -- 139).

"I told myself I was just going to go out there and play my game,"

Shahi said. "I don't have any regrets about any of my shots, but

things didn't go my way on the back nine. That shot on the 13th that

hit the tree, that was depressing."

Peter Shahi, Sasan's father and caddie, said that the breaks were

falling for his son Saturday, but not in the final round.

"A lot of putts went in [Saturday]," Peter Shahi said. "Next year,

we'll get [the championship]."

Newport Beach resident Greg Meyer finished tied for eighth (66-72

-- 138) after starting the day deadlocked for third at 4-under.

"I felt OK. It was just a matter of putts falling," Meyer said.

"On No. 8 I hit a perfect putt that lipped out. That was already the

third putt that lipped out for me in the round. That's when I knew it

wasn't going to be my day. But that's golf. Sometimes perfect putts

don't go in."

Meyer had 14 pars and four bogeys on the day, snapping a streak

for him.

"That was the first time in a long time when I didn't get at least

one birdie in a round," the Edison High graduate said. "I honestly

don't remember the last time I didn't get at least one birdie."

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