Ligi keeps his eyes on the prize, takes WACO

August 12, 2012|By TIM KOELBLE |
  • Steve Ligi gets hugged by his daughters, Addison and McKenzie, after winning the 29th WACO Championship at Beaver Creek Country Club on Sunday.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Steve Ligi drilled in a 12-foot birdie on the difficult 18th hole, and then pointed his finger to the sky, indicating he was the No. 1 golfer at Beaver Creek Country Club.

The Jefferson, Md., golfer shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to go along with his opening-round 67 that gave him a 7-under 137 and the 29th WACO Championship.

“The birdie was just a great way to cap off a great weekend,” said Ligi, winning his first medalist tournament since the Frederick City Amateur in 2006.

“My wife and two daughters and my friend Bob Sanchez, who recently lost a family member, were here to support me,” said Ligi. “I just didn’t lose my focuas on the course.”

Ligi won by four strokes over three players and by five strokes over 14-year-old Chris Navarro, who ended 66-76—142. Tied for second at 141 were Chuck Thatcher (74-67), Derek Baker (73-68) and Scott Raley (75-66). Raley’s round of 66 was the best on Sunday.

Navarro’s one-stroke advantage wilted by the third hole after two opening bogeys and a birdie by Ligi. Navarro then suffered a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 4.

“I’m thinking it is still plenty of golf to play,” said Ligi. “The young kids could get hot again.”

A birdie on the par-5 No. 9, following a deft chip shot, opened a four-shot for Ligi, who never looked back.

He opened a five-shot margin with a birdie on the par-4 No. 12 to go to 8 under.

At the same time, Chuck Thatcher, Scott Raley and Derek Baker were attempting to make one last stand as each got to 3 under.

No. 13 was a critical hole as Navarro came out under tree limbs with a pitch and run that set up a birdie to get back to 4 under. At the same time Ligi had tree problems and eventually bogeyed to fall back to 7 under.

“I got a little uptight after 13,” said Ligi. “I came up and out of my shot and clipped the tree.”

Things even looked more dire for Ligi on the par-3 No. 14.

Ligi clunked his tee ball about 45 yards off the teebox, but recovered with a wedge close enough to save par.

After launching a drive on the par-5 No. 15, Ligi had an eagle putt just miss, settling for a tap-in birdie to go back to 7 under.

Bogeys on 16 and 17 weren’t as costly as possible with the stroke margin, but Ligi recovered with a 5-wood on No. 18, a draw that left him 104 yards to the pin.

His shot was 6 feet above the pin and he calmly rolled the ball in for a punctuating birdie.

“All day I just played within myself and stayed focused, not making a lot of eye contact with people,” said Ligi. “My goals are always to make no doubles and three-putts and I did that this weekend.”

The youthful Navarro, who will be a sophomore at Archbishop Spalding High School, held strong after the first two bogeys as long as he could before faltering.

“I was nervous, really nervous, today,” said Navarro. “Even after four holes I kept telling myself, ‘I’m not out of this.’ The weekend was an experience.”

In the Second Flight, Josh Spreng shot a second sraight 77 for a two-day 154 to win; David Healy had a 157 to win the Third Flight by four strokes and Paul Sweeney won the Fourth Flight by one stroke with a 175.

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