California State Amateur – Match Play
Nick Delio defeated Austin Roberts 7 & 5 to claim the 97th California State Amateur championship.
Nick Delio, an 18-year-old Valencia resident, captures 97th California State Amateur title.
STUDIO CITY, June 21 -You had to feel for Austin Roberts’ caddie.
You watched all week as the caddie huffed and puffed and tried to keep up with his 15-year-old boss as he stalked the fairways of Lakeside Golf Club in pursuit of a championship that had never been won by someone so young. But you also observed that Roberts’ opponent, Nick Delio of Valencia, drove the ball prodigious distances, and that with his strength, the rough didn’t mitigate a deft short game. You saw a 15-year-old playing against an 18-year-old, both in their first State Amateurs ever, and you saw why those extra three years matter when it comes to physical maturity.
Nick Delio defeated Austin Roberts of Carmichael 7 & 5 to win the 97th California State Amateur on the strength of the 16-22nd holes in the match where he would go 7-under in winning six holes. One hole in particular illustrated the champion’s advantage. The par-five 4th hole measures 584 yards. Delio’s tee shot of 341 yards left him with a downhill hanging lie. His 3-iron second shot travelled 243 yards and left him with a 6-footer for eagle. Case closed.
“I just felt like that if I could keep it in the fairway, I would have the advantage because of my length,” the Cal State Northridge Matador said.
The morning 18 saw the customary swings in momentum that typify match play. Delio got on a roll first by sticking his tee shot on the difficult 240-yard par 3 ninth hole. But after going two up through the 13th hole, the Delio three-putted from six feet on the 14th and then drove into a bunker on 15 to square the match. But the 18-year-old recovered with two late birdies to finish the first 18 holes 2-up.
“I just told myself, ‘Stay patient and good things will happen.’ There was a lot of golf left and I felt like if I could get the lead I could keep it,” the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year said.
Delio wasn’t even supposed to play the State Amateur having failed to qualify in May at Sterling Hills. But as first alternate, he got the call that a spot was open. A week later he found himself winning the championship.
Roberts (above right) is competing in his first NCGA events this summer. He won the 14-15 age division of the NCGA Junior Tour – Central Valley at Stevinson Ranch in March as was medalist at a qualifier for the NCGA Public Links; but a runner-up finish in the State Amateur in his first try sets the bar quite high for a very talented young man. Mac Hunter remains the youngest to win the title in 1972 as a 16-year-old.
“I couldn’t make a putt,” the Sacramento Waldorf HS rising sophomore said regarding the final match. “My iron play was good all week. And I feel like I played well today, but he just played better.” Indeed the runner-up was one-over par for his second 18, but Delio’s hot stretch closed the door on any comeback. “I got a lot further than I thought I would so I’m proud of that.”
Lakeside Golf Club proved to be a brilliant venue for match play in the first State Amateur to be played in Southern California. With temperatures hovering well above 90 most of the week, it was also undoubtedly the hottest State Amateur ever. The event moves to Lake Merced GC in Daly City in 2009 before returning to Southern California in 2010.
Delio’s win is third straight by a player from Southern California (and the third by a Cal State Northridge student in the last 14 years). “I join an elite group,” the champion said regarding the win. “And I’m just thankful I got to play.”
LAKESIDE GOLF CLUB/OAKMONT COUNTRY CLUB
Lakeside and Oakmont were both designed by Max Behr, Jr. and were part of the first great Golden Age of golf course architecture in Southern California, which occurred during the 1920s. This was an era that also saw the building of The Los Angeles CC’s North and South courses, Riviera CC, Bel-Air CC, Rancho Santa Fe GC and others. Visit http://scga.org/FOREWEB/mj08/stateam.htm for more information.
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Although there were other tournaments held early in the 20th century, the California Amateur Championship dates its origins from 1912. It was originally held at Del Monte GC but when Pebble Beach Golf Links was built in 1919, the championship shifted to that location.
This year marks the first year that the California Amateur will have been played in Southern California. The championship will be played in 2009 at Lake Merced GC in Daly City and in 2010 at Rancho Santa Fe GC and La Jolla CC. It will continue to rotate between Northern and Southern California in succeeding years.
Friday, June 20 – Quarterfinals and Semifinals
Austin Roberts improbable run at history continued Friday, as the 15-year-old played his way into the finals of the California State Amatuer. With a 5 and 4 win over #1 seed Matt Hoffenberg of Simi Valley, the Waldorf High student has the opportunity to better Mac Hunter’s record of winning the event as a 16-year-old in 1972. Roberts took out San Diego’s James Erpenbeck, an 18-year-old just out of Torrey Pines HS, in the morning quarterfinals 3 and 2.
After taking an early lead in the semifinals, Roberts never let up, making three back nine birdies to sew up the match. “I always try to take the tee and keep it. In other words, I want the lead and then never let up,” he said.
What makes the the Carmichael resident’s historic run more special, is that while he has had success at the junior level, winning some Junior Golf Association of Northern California events, finishing 6th in the CIF State High School championship in 2008 as well as participating in the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in 2007, this is his greatest success competing against regular amateurs. “I enjoy playing against older guys and learning from them,” he said. Clearly the rising sophomore is a fast learner. The State Amateur title in California has been captured by some of the most notable name in golf history, a point not lost on Roberts. “I was thinking about adding my name to the list of champions; that would be very special,” he said.
Roberts will face Nick Delio (right) of Valencia in the finals. The rising sophomore at Cal State Northridge took out three-time SCGA Amateur champion Scott McGihon 8 and 7 and NCGA Amateur champion Ryan Hallisey of Granite Bay in the quarterfinals 3 and 2. Delio was a late entrant into the championship, getting in as a first alternate.
“I just stuck to my game plan. Just hit fairways and greens and give myself chances,” Delio said.
The final match sets up as a battle between teenagers for the second year in a row. It also pits a player from the north against the south for the first time since the 2006 final match.
Thursday, June 19 – Second Round of Match Play
Austin Roberts of Carmicheal looks like a 15-year-old and talks like one but most certainly plays an adult’s game. The Sacramento Waldorf HS student defeated San Jose’s Kevin Fryer 2-up and faces James Erkenbeck tomorrow. “I came into the week wanting to make the cut,” Roberts said. “But I love match play. My mindset now is just to beat the golf course. That’s really been helping me.” Roberts clearly has the nerve for match play; he came from a 4-down deficit in the first round of match play to defeat NCGA Four-Ball champion Travis Taylor.
Erkenbeck, an 18-year-old San Diego native, upended the defending champion, Josh Anderson of Murrieta, 2 and 1. The rising University of New Mexico freshman and recent Torrey Pines HS alum displayed the steely nerves of youth on the greens, never giving Anderson the momentum.
After a blazing hot first round of match play, Saratoga’s Matt Marshall was unable to sustain his great play in the second round, losing to co-medalist Matt Hoffenberg of Simi Valley 1-up. (Hoffenberg just completed his freshman year at San Diego State.) Marshall was 4-down after the 12th hole and made a charge that ultimately came up short.
Steve Woods, the 1994 champion, dropped his match against Josh Dupont of Poway, 3 and 2. Dupont faces Hoffenberg in the quarterfinals. Scott McGihon of Bermuda Dunes defeated 2006 State Amateur champion Jordan Nasser 3 and 1. McGihon, at age 40, has the distinction of being the oldest player left in the field. He will face Tim Cha of Chino Hills, a 3 and 2 winner over Bryan Harris of Newport Beach.
NCGA Amateur champion Ryan Hallisey (right) booked a trip to the quarterfinals via a 1-up win over Alex Kim of Fullerton. “He made a couple of mistakes and then I was able to hold on,” the rising Nevada-Reno junior said. “I just finished school so I really wanted to enjoy the week. My game feels good and I’m putting well.”
Modesto’s Jeff Burda, who was one of the oldest qualifiers for match play in recent memory at age 55, lost to Nick Delio of Valencia, 5 and 4. Delio is a freshmen-to-be at Cal State Northridge and got into the field as an alternate. Now he is in the quarterfinals where he will face Hallisey.
Two Northern Californians and six players from the south comprise the quarterfinals. Five of the competitors are teenagers and the average age of the final eight is 21.
Wednesday, June 18 – First Round of Match Play
Match play commenced Wednesday at the California State Amateur being held at Lakeside GC, with 16 players advancing to Thursday’s second round.
Matt Marshall is perhaps the hottest golfer in the field after going out with a 29 on his front nine. The Saratoga resident rode a hot putter in birdieing six of the first seven holes in building a 5-up lead at the turn in his match against Carl Smith IV, and then coasted to a 6-and-5 win. The 23-year-old is familiar with Lakeside, having played at UCLA for two years before transferring to UC Davis. “I made a game plan last night and stuck to it,” the Santa Clara County champion said. “I’ve played in a few of these and have learned from my mistakes. “
Marshall fired a 62 in the second round of the Santa Clara County event two weeks ago, and knew he was on the verge of a hot streak. “I really got my putter going. Once my ball striking came around I knew I could play well.”
Jeff Burda (right), the oldest player left in the field at age 55 (and one of the oldest in recent history to qualify for match play), showed no sign of his age in dusting Chico’s Brett Viboch 7 and 6. The Modesto resident is seeking to become the oldest champion in the event’s illustrious history. After blowing away the field in the tough NCGA Senior Amateur by 10 shots in early May, the Del Rio member is clearly on top of his game and poised to make a run at history.
Defending champion Josh Anderson of Murrieta advanced with an easy 3 and 2 win over Bryce Holloway. Other Northern Californians advancing include Steve Woods of Cupertino, the 1994 champion of this event, Kevin Fryer of San Ramon, 15-year-old Austin Roberts of Carmichael and NCGA Amateur champion Ryan Hallisey. Six Northern Californians remain in the field versus 10 from the south.