SIMPSONVILLE — The only reason Patrick Newcomb had to sweat out his second consecutive Kentucky State Amateur golf championship on Thursday was the sticky 92-degree weather.
Newcomb's competition at The Cardinal Club didn't put any heat on him, so he was able to shoot a relatively stress-free even-par 71 to win the 101st State Am by four shots over Ryan McCann.
The Murray State senior-to-be became the 11th golfer in the past 60 years to win back-to-back titles.
"It feels great," he said after finishing at 7-under (68-67-71—206). "This one's gonna hit me sooner than last year, when it didn't sink in until a week or so after."
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Like last year, Newcomb got an assist from his dad Monty, who caddied for him.
"He read the greens great all week; he's the best at that," said Patrick, whose mom Melissa and grandfather, Robert Coplen, were also on hand to watch him hoist the big silver trophy.
Unlike last year when Newcomb had to birdie the last two holes to win at Kearney Hill Links, he led by four or five shots most of Thursday. Nobody got closer than three after the first hole.
"Sometimes a cushion isn't good because you start hitting tentative shots," said Newcomb, who suffered that lapse when he bogeyed the ninth, 10th and 12th holes and saw his lead shrink to three.
But he rediscovered his aggressive swing on the par-5 13th when he hit a 3-wood on his second shot 250 yards to the front of the green. He got up and down for a birdie.
Newcomb said it was "the turning point" of his round.
He said he remembered Phil Mickelson's shot off the pine straw on the par-5 13th at Augusta that helped him win the 2010 Masters.
"Phil said you have to hit a shot to win the golf tournament," Newcomb said. "I really felt that was the shot I needed to win this golf tournament."
While Newcomb avoided any disastrous holes, his closest challengers did not.
Tyler McDaniel, a 16-year-old Clay County sophomore, began the day just two shots off the lead. But he lost the ball on his first tee shot in waist-high weeds and wound up taking a triple bogey.
McDaniel finished with a 75 and tied for third at 212.
Taylor Riggs, a sophomore at EKU who was in the final group with Newcomb and McDaniel, found a waste area behind the sixth hole, took a drop and a double bogey.
He finished with a 73 and tied for third with McDaniel, Bryan Ratterman, Davis Boland and Matt Gann.
McCann, who stayed closest to Newcomb throughout the afternoon, found his own trouble when his tee shot at the 11th hole found the deep weeds and led to a bogey.
McCann, the reigning club champ at The Cardinal Club, shot a 1-under 70 to end up at 3-under 210.
A 40-year-old financial adviser with 3-year-old triplets at home, McCann said he only gets to play golf about once a week.
"So I'm really proud with the way I was able to hang in there and control my nerves," he said.
But he knew the odds were stacked against anybody catching Newcomb.
"The way he was playing, somebody was going to have to shoot 6- or 7-under to put pressure on him."
Newcomb, 22, said he plans to try for a three-peat at Bowling Green Country Club next June. The last golfer to win three State Ams in a row was Bill Musselman (1970-71-72).
Nine other players have won back-to-back titles since 1952: Gay Brewer (1952-53), Frank Beard (1961-62), George Cadle (1966-67), John Owens (1963-64), Kevin Proctor (1975-76), Jodie Mudd (1979-80), Jimmy Brown (1981-82), Eric Mason (2000-01) and Jordan Blann (2009-10).