It has been a long road back to the winner’s circle in his home state for University Place’s James Feutz.
Once considered the next great golfer out of Bellarmine Prep, he started his college career at UNLV in 2012, then transferred to the University of Pacific last year.
All the while, he has been in search of his top-notch game.
He seems to be finding it.
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Trailing overnight leader Andrew Kennedy by three strokes heading into the final round of the 51st Puget Sound Amateur (May 22) at Chambers Bay, Feutz went on a birdie-making blitz on the back nine to grab the title.
And when Feutz tapped in for a final birdie on the finishing hole, a par 5, he finished off his round of 1-under-par 71 to edge reigning Tacoma City Amateur champion Casey Adams (71) by one stroke.
Feutz’s two-round total was even-par 144, ahead of Adams’ 145, and two shots clear of third-place finisher Adam Barker (71) at 146.
“It just feels great to know I can still win, and that all the work I’ve been putting in the last few months is starting to show,” Feutz said.
Feutz’s back-nine 32 was fueled by birdies at the 10th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes.
In fact, as he made the turn in the final group, he trailed Kennedy by four shots. But Kennedy made double bogey at No. 10 - and Feutz birdied it from 5 feet.
Kennedy made another double bogey at No 13, and never regained the lead again.
At the 14th hole, Feutz drilled a 35-foot putt for birdie, and suddenly the lead was two strokes. He also birdied No. 16 on a 15-footer.
Feutz ran into trouble at the 17th hole, eventually making bogey. But on the final hole, he landed his 7-iron approach shot in the center of the green, and two-putted from 25 feet for the victory.
It was quite a recovery by Feutz, who was 5-over through 12 holes in the first round at Lake Spanaway Golf Course before making a bunch of birdies late to shoot 73.