Ninth Hole Memorable for Lepp
June 4, 2005
Owings Mills, MD - There were a lot of memorable shots for James Lepp during his dramatic final round of play at the NCAA Championships. When you shoot a course-record 7-under 63 at the lengthy par-71, 7,131-yard Caves Valley Golf Club, you are going to have some outstanding moments. For Lepp, the best might not have been one of the eight birdies he managed during his final round.
After sinking a 14-foot putt on the downhill par-3, 215-yard eighth hole to go to seven under, Lepp gave a little fist pump to the crowd.
The usually stoic Lepp laughs when he recalled the moment after winning the NCAA Championship.
'I think I just fist pumped because people expect me to fist pump,' Lepp recalled. 'It not really in my character at all. My parents are here so I thought I would give them a fist pump. It was exciting to make that putt. It was a tricky read. I had a really good read on it and it went exactly where I thought it would.'
Having started his final round on the back nine, Lepp went to No. 9, his final hole, the 435-yard uphill par-4. He drove his tee shot slightly right and it settled in the first cut, several yards from the small stream that runs from the right side of the green down the fairway.
Admitting that he was 'amped up' on his final hole, when Lepp hit his approach shot from 141 yards, he could not see where his ball landed due to the uphill nature of the hole and a mound on the front side of the green. But he did hear the silence from the gallery at the hole.
'I had 141 (yards) uphill and I was thinking that was a perfect nine,' Lepp recalled. 'You want to get past the hole, You don't want to put up the ridge on the front side. I had a good lie in the first cut. I just did not hit it crisp enough and it got high and just a hair left. I didn't hear any applause like, 'Nice shot.' I thought I made it on the back of the green and then I got up there I saw it was a narly lie.
'It was messy, but it was kind of sitting where I could play like a little bunker shot. It was one of those shots where you knew it was going to come out dead. It is not going to come up hot. You hit enough shots around the greens this week and during the practice rounds that you get a feel for the lies. I just read the lie and hit it how I thought it would come out and it came out exactly how I thought.'
Lepp's ball dropped onto the green and rolled down to the hole, stopping within five feet. He made his par putt and walked off with a 7-under 63. Good enough to climb into a tie for first place and eventually the NCAA title after a three-hole playoff.
'It was a tough up and down,' Lepp said. 'That is a shot I'll always remember.'