On Sunday, a pair of double bogeys on the same stretch of holes brought him crashing back to earth.
Freels double-bogeyed his 15th and 18th holes of the day, handing Bryan Sangid medalist honors in the championship flight by a single stroke.
Sangid, who fired a final-round 71 to finish at even-par 144, had already signed his scorecard and more or less resigned himself to a second-place finish by the time Freels doubled the 18th.
“I thought I probably needed a little better than that,” Sangid said. “I know Mike is tough and I thought he’d come in pretty strong.”
Freels held a two-stroke advantage as he stood on the 15th tee. An eagle on the 15th during the first round kick-started his rise into championship contention, but on Sunday, Freels snap-hooked a drive into some overgrowth on the left and walked away with a double-bogey 6.
Freels steadied himself with a birdie to reestablish a one-shot advantage as he reached the home hole. He took one step closer to the title when his drive found the fairway on No. 18, but his second shot came off the face of his iron with a little too much sizzle.
“I hit it about 5 yards too far,” Freels said of his approach to the green.
The ball ended up behind the green, leaving a difficult downhill chip with the tournament on the line.
“I had no shot,” Freels said. “I had to hit a flop and I couldn’t keep it on the green.”
Freels finally got his ball into the hole to complete a round of 77, but his 36-hole total of 145 proved to be one stroke too many.
When all was said and done, Freels wasn’t in the mood to second-guess his effort.
“I had a chance to win on the last hole,” he said. “What else can you ask for?”
Meanwhile, Sangid’s final-round 71 looked to be rock steady on the surface, but he found his share of trouble Sunday as well.
Sangid’s six birdies almost weren’t enough thanks to a lost ball on No. 16 and a bogey on No. 18. In the end, he said the tournament probably hinged on a lucky break he caught on No. 12.
With his ball nestled under the trees, Sangid had no choice but to punch it toward the green. As luck would have it, the ball hit the flag and dropped 3 feet from the hole to set up the unlikeliest of birdies.
“I was very fortunate to make birdie there,” Sangid admitted.
While the breaks didn’t go his way Sunday, Freels insisted that it goes with the territory.
“(Even) the pros don’t shoot the same score every time out. It’s a different flavor every day,” he said. “If you don’t like that, you don’t like golf.
“It’s different wind, different grass, different moisture — everything’s different.”