June 7, 2006 - This year's Pima County Amateur Golf Championship had a little bit of everything, from the triumphant return of a champion, to a tie-breaking hole to a ball that decided it wasn't going to obey the laws of physics.
Up six-shots entering the back nine, David McDaniel had to hold off Radd Lukas on June 4 at Crooked Tree Golf Course at Arthur Pack Park to claim his first Pima County Amateur title in four tries.
McDaniel shot a two-day total of 138 - 69 each day - but needed a sudden-death playoff hole to solidify the one-stroke win over the surging Lukas.
The match began to swing in Lukas' favor as he and McDaniel turned the back nine. After sailing a shot that appeared to land in the water, Lukas was surprised to find his ball resting atop some reeds floating a few feet out in the lake. The option of taking a drop was never a thought for Lukas.
"I've got to take a shot at this, it's calling for me to take a shot," said a smiling Lukas in the clubhouse after the round. "If the reeds were facing the other way I would have never tried it."
Lukas' reed shot landed 18-feet from the hole, which Lukas two-putted for par. While Lukas was up to his calves in the lake, McDaniel was having problems of his own on 10. He sailed a shot that struck the pin and ricocheted wildly into the bunker. The errant shot nearly proved disastrous for McDaniel, who saw his once six-hole lead evaporate to one by hole No. 14.
"After that, I just couldn't hit a golf shot, couldn't get it together," said McDaniel.
The win netted the 20-year-old his second title in less than two months. In May, McDaniel won the Tucson City Golf Championship - a four-day event held at Dell Urich, Randolph and Fred Enke golf courses. The 2003 Canyon Del Oro High School grad won that tournament by one stroke over Josh Wilks and UA sophomore Tyler Neal.
McDaniel and Lukas have faced each other in pressure situations before. Lukas held off McDaniel in 2002 to win his only Pima County Amateur Championship.
The 43-year-old dentist can empathize with McDaniel who coughed up a six-hole lead.
"I've been up six strokes many times and given them away so I know it's possible," said Lukas.
Lukas and his wife moved to the Northwest eight years ago and settled down in the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa community. Since then he's been playing local tournaments, including four Pima County Amateurs.
The Pima County championship returned after a year hiatus. Officials at Crooked Tree took on the tournament for the first time and are hoping its revitalization can turn it into a staple among annual area events. This year, 28 golfers turned out to compete.
"We want to get some prestige to it," said Rich Mueller, Director of Golf at Arthur Pack. "But it will take a little time."