Sills Wins SCGA Amateur Championship
Tony Sills, a 20-year-old college student from Riviera, engineered his biggest victory ever with a consistent one-under-par 72-73-70-72 — 287, to win the 77th Southern California Amateur Championship by one stroke over 46-year-old Joe Simpson of Stardust. It was SIlls' third try for the elusive SCGA title; he tied for third last year, and was third in 1973.
Simpson, the father of NCAA Champion Scott Simpson (who finished at 294), was two shots off the pace going into the final round held at the 6,843-yard par-72 California Country Club in Whittier.
After Sills had uncharacteristically bogeyed the 71st and 72nd holes, Simpson had a chance to tie the match and force a sudden-death playoff with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. He barely missed, and Sills won his first major title since winning the L.A. City Junior Championship in 1971 when he was 15.
Gerry Simoni, a long-driving sophomore from San Diego State, who was tied for the 54-hole lead with Sills at 215, triple bogeyed the 15th hole and finished the final round with a 74, good enough for third place. In fourth place, with a final round 68 (the lowest of the tournament) was Lee Davis, the defending SCGA champion. If it hadn't been for a second-round 80, Davis probably would have been the first back-to-back SCGA champion since 1950-51 when Jim Ferrie accomplished the feat. Two-time SCGA champion Ted Richards (Bel-air) and Warren Colton, the Jack Nicklaus look-alike from Mission Viejo who held the 36-hole lead at 141, tied for fifth at 292.
Sills, who started playing golf at age seven, is currently attending El Camino Junior College, but plans to transfer to USC on a golf scholarship in the spring semester. He will major is psychology.
Although he doesn't have a large list of tournament victories to his credit, Sills has been playing outstanding golf for the last year. In 1975 he won the WAGA Tournament of Champions and a few months ago he qualified for the U.S. Open, missing the 36-hole cut by only one stroke. In July he also placed third in the L.A. City Championship.
More than 800 golfers in four flights qualified at 10 different Southern California sites to gain entry into the finals at California Country Club July 23-25.
Next year's SCGA Amateur Championship regional qualifying will be held July 18-19, with the final rounds scheduled in the San Diego area July 22-24, 1977.