Golf: Defending champ wins Atomic City qualifying round

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By Mike Cote

Prior to Wednesday, the last time Lee Sanchez played golf in Los Alamos, he found himself in a playoff with one of the Normans.

Wednesday, he found himself in a playoff with one of the Normans.

In Wednesday’s qualifying round of the Atomic City Invitational, Sanchez, the defending tournament champion, shot an even-par 72 after 18 holes, a total which was equaled by Curt Norman.

The two faced off in a sudden-death playoff, with Sanchez sinking a short putt on the third playoff hole to take the victory.

Sanchez, who had an automatic berth into the championship flight of the tournament, which got going this morning at Los Alamos Golf Course, locked up the No. 1 seed in the tournament with the playoff victory.

Winning the qualifying round wasn’t Sanchez’s biggest goal heading into the qualifier.

“I was trying to get the feel of the course,” said Sanchez, a native of Santa Fe who won the ACI in 1997 and 1998 as well as his victory last year. “I haven’t been up here for awhile. It’s nice to get to play, get the feel of the course and not to have the tournament pressure.”

In the 2008 ACI final, Sanchez locked horns with Jason Norman, Curt’s older brother. The two also went to a sudden-death playoff after they finished the regulation 27 holes deadlocked.

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