Fallbrook, CA – When you are behind the leader by three shots, the path to victory has a simple solution: Go low.
Former New Mexico standout James Erkenbeck did exactly that in Fallbrook, Calif., with a blistering 64 on Friday’s final round to win the eGolf Tour West’s inaugural Golf Club of California Classic. It was Erkenbeck’s first start in an eGolf Tour West event.
The victory earned Erkenbeck $8,000. It was his first start since coming out of the Web.com Tour Q-School. The ex-Lobo went into the final 18 holes trailing Daniel Miernicki (Oregon) by three shots. Miernicki had gone low on the first two rounds – 68-65 – and was two up on the field going into the final round.
Erkenbeck notched five birdies and an eagle on his final round, while Miernicki faded with a 72 and finished fourth in a tie with Rio Rancho’s Tim Madigan. Christopher Cunningham took runner-up honors three shots behind Erkenbeck, who finished 13-under for the 54-hole event.
Erkenbeck, 24, said he was hoping to get to 12-under expecting Miernicki to once again dip into the 60s. Instead, Miernicki struggled. Erkenbeck got his eagle on the par-5, No. 14th hole with a chip-in from off the green and finished 13-under for the tournament and seven-under on the day.
Erkenbeck played at UNM for Coach Glen Millican and was an All-American, the Mountain West Player of the Year and the medalist at an NCAA regional event. He was named to the 2013 U.S. Palmer Team and was a semifinalist in the U.S. Public Links Championship later that summer.
Jeff Hart, 53, who also plays on the Champions Tour, finished third at 9-under. He shot a 66 on Friday’s final round.
Erkenbeck also was named to the 2013 All-Nicklaus Team, an honor voted on by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Erkenbeck was one of 24 golfers across the country to earn the award.
Erkenbeck averaged 71.21 strokes per round and finished first in two tournaments last season, including the NCAA Columbus Regional. Erkenbeck also was a PING Division I All-West region honoree and earned a spot on the winning U.S. Palmer Cup team – the Palmer Cup is a collegiate version of the Ryder Cup.
With Erkenbeck, the Lobos won the Mountain West and NCAA Columbus Regional titles and advanced to the eight-team match-play at the NCAA Championships. UNM finished fifth in the event.
The former Lobo from San Diego finished his Lobo career with the second-lowest career strokes-per-round average in school history at 72.25. Only Spencer Levine (70.20), who played two years from 2003-04 to 2004-05 after transferring from UCLA, had a better average.