August 8, 2011 6:26 AM
John Pate and Steve Lass became best friends in college more than 30 years ago.
On Sunday, they became champions of the Santa Barbara Classic two-man event for a record 12th time, and first since 2007, following a second straight 9-under 61 at the Santa Barbara Golf Club.
It was Lass' 14th overall title in the event and 13th for Pate.
"It seemed like we used to win every year and now it's a little tougher," Pate said, referring to some of the young, talented players who help make up the tournament field every year. "We were kind of sputtering at the end and it was nice to finish it off."
Pate and Lass distanced themselves from most of the field on the final day of the best-ball event, except for the team of Bobby Schaeffer and Josh Anderson.
The two stayed in contention all the way to the end. Adding drama to the final moments was a shot by Schaeffer from 80 yards with a pitching wedge on the par-5 18th that went past the hole by five feet, spun back and lipped out for what would have been an eagle, and a share of the lead.
Anderson, who is a member of the Pepperdine golf team and competed as an amateur in the 2009 PGA Buick Invitational, ended up two-putting for birdie from the front of the green to a back hole location to pull to within one.
But Pate negotiated a tricky up and down from behind the 18th green for birdie to secure a two-shot win. Had Pate not birdied, Lass was within three feet for birdie after a terrific chip shot from a tough angle from the left side of the green.
"Josh is clearly the best player in the field," Pate said of Anderson. "He was hurt Saturday and didn't play very well and Bobby played really well. But then Josh comes back today and shoots 62 on his own ball. He's a really good player."
Lass, the longtime golf coach at UCSB, was very pleased with his putting throughout the tournament.
"I felt like I was pretty clutch when I made some good putts when we needed them," Lass said. "I felt like I helped a lot, but (John) was so good that he was kind of a one-man show most of the time.
"This is probably the best I've seen him play for two days in a row in our 20-some years we have played in this together. I think both of us think well out there. You can't make perfect decisions every time, but in general, we're good decision makers where most of our mistakes come from just bad swings or nervous swings."
Lass and Pate will be a team, once again, in today's first stage of the Southern California Golf
Association Match Play Championship at Sandpiper Golf Course in Goleta. Pate will play and his best friend will be on the bag.
"He knows how good he is, but he's very humble," Lass said of Pate. "He knows that when he's playing well he's as good as anyone out there. For me it will just be trying to keep him upbeat, and if he gets really down I might tell a joke or two.
"I'll be mostly reading greens at Sandpiper. I play there a lot, so I know the greens very well. He's 51 years old and he's been playing competitive golf for 40 years. He knows what to do."
Pate said his expectations aren't that high with a field of some of Southern California's top amateur players competing.
"It's pretty tough to get by too many matches," Pate said. "In that thing I figure I have to get pretty lucky."
He's got a good boost of momentum with another Santa Barbara Classic title.
<<Story Courtesy Of Santa Barbara News Press>>