Cal’s Limbhasut takes lead into final round of State Fair golf

KK Limbhasut was on the brink of taking the fun out of Monday’s final round of the California State Fair Men’s Amateur Championship.

The first-round co-leader opened with four consecutive birdies. He was 5 under par for the day, 10 under for the tournament and five shots clear of second place Sunday at Haggin Oaks when his drive on No. 15 ended up behind a tree and resulted in a double bogey. Three putts from 12 feet for a par on No. 17 helped keep the door ajar.

Limbhasut made his ninth birdie of the day on No. 18, and when all was said and done, his 4-under 68 gave him a two-round total of 135 and a one-shot lead over Jooho Lee (66). Reilly McMahon (67) was another shot back.

“Nine birdies. Crazy round,” said Limbhasut, a native of Bangkok who said KK is short for Khemkhon.

Limbhasut, a sophomore, is one of 16 Cal players in the field – all 11 from the official roster and five others who aspire to a roster spot. The State Fair comprises the final three of eight qualifying rounds Cal uses to determine its five-player travel squad for next week’s season-opening tournament in Minnesota. Previous accomplishments mean nothing, the Cal contingent said. Finish among the top five in qualifying or spend next weekend in Berkeley.

65 Second-round score of incoming Cal freshman Jamie Cheatham, who was tied for fourth

Jamie Cheatham, an incoming Cal freshman from Rancho Santa Fe, desperately wants to be in Independence, Minn., next weekend. He said he’s in decent shape in the Cal qualifying hierarchy, but things weren’t looking great when he was 2 over for the tournament through six holes Sunday.

A 30-footer from the fringe for a birdie on his seventh hole started a run of five consecutive birdies and a 10-hole stretch in which he was 8 under. Cheatham, who wasn’t sporting blue and gold like most of his Cal teammates “because I haven’t got my gear yet,” finished with a 65 – the day’s best round – and was tied for fourth with UC Santa Barbara sophomore Zach Smith (71), three shots off the pace.

Granite Bay High School senior Bryan Baumgarten (67) was tied for sixth at 5 under with Cal sophomore Sebastian Crampton (68), Cal Poly senior Jordan Wright (71) and Fresno State junior Trevor Clayton (66).

Lee and McMahon played in the more difficult afternoon conditions.

Lee is a Nevada sophomore from Coquitlam, British Columbia, who started playing on his high school team when he was 11.

McMahon, 21, a former UCLA player from Santa Maria, has gotten serious about the game again after stepping away for 18 months to focus on academics and recharge his competitive batteries.

He said he figured out his driver during his 5-under back nine, closing with three consecutive birdies.

“I have a new perspective and enjoyment of the game,” McMahon said after his self-imposed hiatus. “And the ball has been rolling in the right direction.”

Women – Samantha Hutchinson birdied four of the first six holes on the back nine to pull away from a bunched group and win the State Fair Women’s title.

69 Closing round by incoming UC Davis freshman Samantha Hutchinson to win the State Fair Women’s title

Hutchinson, an incoming UC Davis freshman from San Jose, birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14 and 15 at Bartley Cavanaugh in a final-round 3-under 69 for a two-round 138 total. She won by four shots over Hannah Sodersten (68) and Sadie Strain (69) and five over Clare Sorensen (68), Dani O’Keefe (68) and Paige Lee (72).

“It’s positive reinforcement for the season,” Hutchinson said.

The Aggies begin play next week in New Mexico.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526.