By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
The Greater Albuquerque Men’s City Amateur Golf Championship isn’t a match play event, but it could very well end up that way in today’s final round at Los Altos.
In Saturday’s second round at Arroyo del Oso, Simon Miller drained back-to-back clutch putts to finish his day while Alejandro Armijo made his only bogey on the last hole, and Miller grabbed a one-shot edge in the 78th edition of the prestigious tournament.
The two aren’t the only ones in the 54-hole event. But it seems that way as nobody else in the field is close.
Miller, who opened the tournament with a 4-under-68 at Ladera on Friday, came right back with a bogey-free 68 on Saturday at Arroyo del Oso for an 8-under 136. Armijo, the first round leader with a 67, made a bogey 5 on the 18th hole at Arroyo on Saturday and is at 7-under-137.
If anyone else is to make a run, they will likely have to go really low today. James Gehrke (71-72) and Eric Frazier (72-71) are tied for third at 1 under, Slater Sivage (75-69) is even, Bowen Davis (75-70) is 1 over and Jason Myers (72-74) is 2 over.
Of that group, Gehrke is the one to watch. The former La Cueva High and UNM player once shot a 61 at Los Altos in the event. Another round like that, and who knows?
“You can make a lot of birdies at Los Altos, so there’s always a chance somebody can come from behind and make a run,” said Armijo, a 2018 Cleveland High graduate. “But I talked to my caddie (Saturday night), and our game plan is to pick up a shot and pull even with Simon as soon as possible and play it as match play from there.
“You never know about the others, because they will be playing with nothing to lose. But I’m going to be attacking and ready to go.”
Armijo, who will play for Oklahoma Christian in the fall, will probably need to attack to win. Miller, a 2011 Albuquerque Academy graduate, has been the picture of consistency much of the tournament.
After opening with an even-par 36 on his front nine on Friday, Miller has played his last 27 holes at 8 under — and he hasn’t made a bogey in that stretch.
“To play that many holes without a bogey gives me a lot of momentum and confidence,” Miller said. “I really wanted to make that putt on 18 to finish the round without a bogey. That’s tough to do, so I’m really feeling good.”
On Saturday, Miller stuffed an 8-iron to within a foot on the par 4 third hole for birdie, then landed a 100-yard approach within three feet on the par 4 seventh for another birdie.
“That one on 17 was huge,” said Miller, who is a budget policy analyst for the state budget division. “I made about a 20-to-25 foot putt for birdie on that. It was a big putt.”
So was his 7-footer for par on 18. He calmly drained that for the top spot.
Alejandro was on the cusp of a bogey-free round and a share of the lead, but he missed the green on his approach at 18 and couldn’t get up-and-down. It was only bogey. He had tap-in birdies on No. 1 and No 11 – both par 5s – and made a 30-foot birdie bomb on the par 4 eighth.
“I played well, and I feel confident,” Armijo said. “I’m excited for the final round, that’s for sure. I’m ready to see what I’m all about and to see what I can do with pressure.”
The leaders tee off about 10 a.m., today at Los Altos.
OTHER FLIGHTS: In the President’s Flight, Dennis Trujillo had a 77 on Saturday, but still holds the lead at 5 over 149 on the strength of his even-par 72 at Ladera on Friday.
Luis Luna (74-78) is in the hunt again this year, and is tied with Steven A. Tapia (79-73) for second at 8 over.
… Robert Scott (74-71) leads the senior flight at 1 over while Chad Padilla (76-74) is second at 6 over and Scott Blank (75-76) third at 7 over.
Former champion Sam Shepperson (80-77) is in eighth place.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in the state’s history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.