In a dramatic comeback victory, Brian Bodensteiner won the 14- to 15-year-old division of the 45th annual Bobby Gorin Memorial at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville yesterday.
Bodensteiner, a 15-year-old from Arlington, trailed by four holes in the match-play tournament before making a 60-foot putt on the final hole to defeat 15-year-old Max Byrne of Potomac, 1 up, on the South Course.
Federico Lopez, 17, defeated fellow Potomac resident Casey Finger, 2 and 1, to win the 16- to 17-year-old division. Lawton Kenny, a 13-year-old from Washington, defended his title in the 13-and-under division, beating Richie Steinwand of Silver Spring, 4 and 3.
Bodensteiner, whose postmatch smile might have been as wide as his final putt was long, needed birdies on his final two holes to pull out the victory. After he matched Byrne's birdie putt on the par-3 No. 8 -- the competitors started the match on No. 10 -- Bodensteiner hit his drive into the right rough. He used a nine-iron to knock the ball onto the green about 60 feet from the pin.
"Standing over the putt, I just felt pretty confident about it because it was pretty straight," Bodensteiner said. "I tried to ram it in there, but I didn't quite do that. About 10 feet from the hole, it didn't look like it was going to make it. It was right on line, but it didn't look like it was going to make it. Then it just sped up and just fell in at the end. I couldn't believe it."
Bodensteiner began the match losing four of the first five holes. He won four of the next five to bring the match back to even.
"From there it was just a grind trying to keep up," he said. "On 18 was actually the first time I had taken the lead in the match. It was tough."
Byrne, who was playing in this tournament for only the second time, won his first two matches Tuesday, 7 and 5, then needed 19 holes to win his semifinal yesterday morning. His long morning may have led him to tire down the stretch against Bodensteiner.
"He was sinking lots of putts at the end, hitting pretty flush shots, good shots," Byrne said. "I got up and down a lot, but he just beat me in the end."
Lopez, who will attend UC Santa Barbara in the fall, needed to win a three-way playoff in Monday's qualifying round to reach match play. That close call only led him to be more focused throughout match play.
"I guess I was a little too relaxed on Monday," he said. "I was actually surprised I had to get in a playoff and was fortunate to get in."
Lopez hits the ball a mile -- one of his drives yesterday afternoon traveled close to 350 yards -- but has struggled with his short game until this tournament. In his final match, he was making the putts he normally misses.
"I've been working on that recently," he said. "It really helped me out a lot today."