Brian Choe, a redshirt freshman at Kansas State, found himself in an unusual spot in the Resorters Men's Championship Division Saturday - behind.
Choe, the division's sixth seed, never trailed in his previous four matches that got him to the final but he found himself two down with just six holes left to play against 17-year-old Nate Adams of Maple Grove.
Adams, a three-time Resorters Junior Division winner who led Maple Grove to the Class AAA championship this past spring, appeared to be on the cusp of winning another trophy.
But Choe charged back, winning No. 13 with a gimme par, No. 15 with a birdie after sticking his second shot just a couple feet from the cup, and No. 16 with another birdie to steal the lead.
After both golfers parred the par-3 17th, Choe played No. 18 as he had the entire round - solid. His drive was sitting pretty in the fairway while Adams sailed right and was tree-challenged. Adams still managed to knock it on the green but Choe put his shot only about 12 feet from the hole for an easy par. When Adams missed his birdie try, the match was over with Choe hanging on to a 1-up win.
"I didn't do anything differently," said Choe about his mini-comeback. "I just hit the shots I needed to. I just had to push it out and give it a good go at the end."
Choe was 4-under par for the day. "I was hitting drives well - keeping it in play and I made some good choices with my wedge," he said.
This was Choe's third appearance in the Resorters. He dropped into the first flight two years ago but made it to the quarterfinals last year.
While in Alexandria, Choe stayed with friends of Mark Lindberg, the Men's Division champion in 2002 and 2003. Choe, who is pursuing a finance degree, plans to return to defend his title next summer and said he thoroughly enjoys the Resorters.
"It's more than just a tournament," he said. "It's about having fun with friends. Golfing just comes along with it."
Choe got off to an early lead against Adams, winning Nos. 1 and 4 when Adams ran into bogey trouble. Adams notched his first win with a gimme birdie on No. 6 and tied the match with a deadly accurate tee-shot on the par-3 7th that set up a birdie.
Adams vaulted into the lead on No. 9 by draining a birdie putt and after halving No. 10 with par, he went 2-up on the next hole when Choe missed a short par putt. The lead evaporated four holes later.
"I got to give credit to Brian. He played really well today," Adams said. "I just think overall, he beat me. There's nothing else to it. He played better golf than I did down the stretch, and he deserves to be the champion because of it."
Choe made it to the finals Saturday morning with a 2-1 victory over JJ Svac, also of Maple Grove. He also shot a 4-under par round in that match, highlighted by an eagle on No. 6. Choe led by one at the turn and picked up two big birdie wins on the back - Nos. 11 and 17 - to advance.
Adams, meanwhile, had to go 19 holes to take down Andrew Israelson of Staples - even after shooting 5-under par on the front and 1-under par on the back. Adams also struck for an eagle on No. 6.
The soon-to-be-senior in high school doesn't yet know where he's going to go to college and potentially play golf at the next level. He proved throughout this year's Resorters that he can hang with college players up to the Division I level in a match-play format.
"It's definitely a confidence booster," Adams said. "It really helps for my future, I think, and where I want to go to school. It was a lot of fun. I had a great time this week and can't wait to get back next year."