However, instead of breezing over the supposedly easier back nine, Cowan stumbled. Giles birdied 14, Cowan bogeyed 12 and 13, McLean of Houston dropped below par again and all of a sudden it was a three-way tie and people were checking the leader boards and racing every which way trying to catch the decisive moments.
Cowan birdied 14 to retake the lead, and birdied 15 to make his margin two. At the 16th, a par-5, he was on in two and ready to wrap up the tournament, but three putts cost him his birdie and three more putts on 17 reduced his lead to a stroke. But Cowan never had to touch his putter again. Minutes later he was standing in the thicket, his arms raised in triumph. Without question, the 1971 Amateur would be remembered as the one Gary Cowan won.