Long Jon was well, long as usual off the tee.
But he wasn’t necessarily Straight Jon.
A few years ago, if Lacey’s Jon McCaslin – arguably the longest driver in area amateur golf – hit it a bit crooked, he was merely mortal. Scrambling wasn’t at the top of his skill set.
But this was a different McCaslin who won the 83rd Tacoma City Amateur with a closing 5-under-par 67 under a light drizzle at Eagles Pride Golf Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Sunday afternoon.
The North Thurston High School and Lewis-Clark State College product finished the three-round tournament at 7-under 208, good for a seven-
stroke victory over Bonney Lake’s Sean Packer (even-par 215 overall) and an eight-shot margin over third-place finisher James Feutz, of University Place (1-over 216).
After spending much of his round spraying driver off the tee left and right, even hitting 2-iron left, McCaslin made enough up-and-down pars to keep his round going, then essentially put away the field by making birdies on both back-nine par-3 holes – Nos. 12 and 15.
“I scrambled great today,” McCaslin said. “I got out of trouble. I put myself in good spots to hit my wedges close. And I putted extremely well (25 putts) today.”
It started at the fourth hole. He sailed his drive far right, then his second shot went left, and down the hill near the No. 5 tee box.
Not having any direct path to a back pin, he instead pitched out his third shot to the fairway, some 35 yards from the hole.
And he got up and down for bogey to minimize the damage.
McCaslin was behind trees, underneath trees and in high grass more often than in the fairway, which he hit on just five out of 14 holes.
But each time he was in trouble, he found ways to escape.
“He is really good from 30 to 70 yards,” said final-group playing partner Tom Lewis of Bonney Lake. “Three or four times today, I thought I was going to pick up a shot easily – maybe two (shots) if I made a putt – and he got up and down every time. He has practiced that shot a lot.”
After making birdie at the 12th hole on a 12-foot putt, McCaslin was way right at No. 13.
He hit a punch shot in the rough to the left of the green, and put a third shot with a wedge below the hole. He drilled the 7-foot putt to save par.
“Three years ago, I would have tried to hit it on the green with a low hook or a low draw to get up there,” McCaslin said. “(Caddie) Scott (Geroux) has me under control, laying it up short to chip it up there and make par. It worked out.”
After making a slick, left-to-right 12-footer for par at the 14th hole, he was pin-high at No. 15, the long, uphill final par 3. And his 25-footer down the hill never left its line for birdie.
“My putting I’ve worked on big-time,” McCaslin said. “That comes down to repetition and practice, and when you get into game time, it is natural.”
After winning the Capital City Amateur for the fourth time two weeks ago, and with last week’s earlier Washington State Men’s Amateur at Chambers Bay Golf Course, McCaslin had planned on skipping this event – one he captured in 2009.
But Tacoma Golf Association member Terry Storey phoned him a couple times to recruit him to play, then even found him out practicing at Capitol City Golf Course.
“I was going to take a week off,” McCaslin said. “I am glad Terry talked me into it. It worked out will.”
Packer, the 2004 and 2010 Tacoma City Amateur winner out of Auburn Riverside High School and Western Washington University, birdied all the par-5 holes Sunday to shoot 71. Feutz had five birdies and an eagle at No. 3 en route to a 67, matching McCaslin for low round of the day. The Bellarmine Prep product and UNLV golfer has had a promising start to the summer with fourth-place finishes at the Bremerton City Amateur and Washington State Amateur – and now a third the Tacoma City Am. Lewis, the 2007 event champion, shot 74 to finish fourth at 2-over 217. TGA officials are contemplating changing this tournament to a one-weekend, 36-hole event.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles