NCGA Amateur Match Play
Matt Marshall of Saratoga (left) won the NCGA Amateur Match Play 3 and 2 over Chris Marin of Monterey.
August 11-15, 2008
August 15, 2008
PEBBLE BEACH – Matt Marshall picked a fitting way to end his last summer of competition as an amateur.
Champion Matt Marshall with NCGA President Mark House
By winning the NCGA Amateur Match Play at Spyglass Hill over Chris Marin of Monterey, the Saratoga resident won an elusive title and gave himself some needed momentum as he prepares for PGA Tour Qualifying School this fall after graduating from UC Davis.
The story of the match between Marshall and the 30-year-old Marin came down to putting. The champion put on a display of clutch putting that simply made it impossible for Marin to make up ground after ending the first 18 holes of the scheduled 36-hole final 2-down.
The 3rd through the 5th holes of the second 18 told the story of the entire day. Marshall saved par on the 3rd with an 8-footer and then canned a triple breaking 35 footer on the 4th for birdie. The 5th saw Marshall again save par with a 7-footer that maintained the 3-up lead that would prove the final margin in the match.
“I’ve been working hard this summer getting ready for Q-School,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve really put some time in on inside-10-feet putts. That really bailed me out today.”
Conversely, it was the runner-up’s inconsistency with those same putts that prevented him from mounting a charge. ”That was the death of me,” Marin said. “I scrambled well today but couldn’t make the clutch putts. I’ve got a lot of work to do to get better at those; Matt looked really comfortable over the ball.”
Marin clearly has the game to succeed. Earlier this year he captured both the Monterey Bay Championship and the California Mid Amateur and earned runner-up honors at the Alameda Commuters. He has alternate status for the upcoming US Mid-Amateur to be played in Wisconsin in early September.
Runner-up Chris Marin
Marshall’s game is predicated on control. His compact swing leaves little room for error. Yet when mistakes inevitably happen, his tremendous putting touch, aided by father-caddie Bob – a lifetime PGA member – erased those mistakes.
The champion’s lone miss inside 10 feet on the second 18 came on the 14th and allowed Marin to close the gap. “I was getting tired,” Marshall said. “That’s a lot of golf on a hard golf course.” After yet another save on 15 (versus a missed 7-footer for birdie from Marin), the champion was able to close out the match on the par-4 16th.
The Santa Clara County champion has exhausted his eligibility at UC Davis following a transfer after completing two years at UCLA. After being so close to winning over the past three seasons of NCGA play – Marshall finished third in three consecutive NCGA Amateur Stroke Plays and played his way to the round of 16 in the past two State Amateurs – winning the NCGA’s grandest prize allowed the champion to close this chapter of his career in style. “It feels really good right now,” he said with a smile.
Quarterfinals and Semifinals
August 14, 2008
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Results from Thursday’s Semifinals
Results from Thursday’s Quarterfinals
PEBBLE BEACH – Friday’s NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship final at Spyglass Hill features two players who have danced on the periphery of NCGA tournament success in recent years. The result of tomorrow’s match will anoint one of them with the NCGA’s grandest prize.
Saratoga’s Matt Marshall (right) built momentum early in both the quarter and semifinals Thursday. The La Rinconada member seemingly followed the same plan – establish a big lead and then grind out the victory. But after taking out Kevin Lozares 5 and 3 in the morning and taking a 6-up lead in the afternoon semifinals over D.J. Fernando of Bakersfield, things took a drastic turn. Fernando, who had earlier defeated Jon Peterson of the Olympic Club 5 and 4, rattled off wins on three straight holes despite being dormie to close the gap. But Marshall made a steady par on 17 to secure the 3 and 1 win. “I was thinking that pars would do it but I didn’t let his run get to me,” the 23-year-old said. “I just stuck to my game plan. I try not to play the opponent too much in match play. I just try to play my game.”
Marshall poured in five birdies on his round versus one bogey and one double and appears primed to capture his first NCGA title. He recently exhausted his college eligibility at UC Davis after transferring two years ago from UCLA. He is in his final year competing as an amateur – a career that has seen him finish third in three straight NCGA Amateur Stroke Play championships and play his way into the round of 16 in two State Amateurs. “I’ve given myself chances and I’ve put myself in the position to win. If I keep doing that I’m happy,” the 2008 Santa Clara County champion said. He plans on attempting PGA Tour Qualifying School in the fall.
The other half of the bracket saw the 14th seed, Chris Marin of Monterey, emerge on top. The Pebble Beach caddie has also contended in many NCGA events, and earlier this year won the Monterey Bay and California Mid-Amateur championships. The 30-year-old defeated Ricky Stockton of Salinas in the quarterfinals 5 and 4 and then quickly built a 3-up lead over his semifinals opponent, Wes Leith of Davis. But a leaky game that saw Marin miss seven of eight greens squared the match. A gutsy par on 17 provided the margin that spurred the Alameda Commuters runner-up to a 2-up win. The six bogeys Marin posted on the round definitely show a game ripe for improvement, but his steely resolve in taking the match indicates a player ready to win.
“My game is up and down. When it’s here, it’s good,” Marin said regarding his wildly vacillating game. “I approach this event the same way every year – just qualify for match play. If you’re there, anything can happen.”
Marin’s local knowledge from years of caddying, plus the assistance of Spyglass Hill caddies on his bag have certainly helped, but the finalist is quick to point out what many players have noted: “These greens aren’t easy.”
The scheduled 36-hole final tees off at 7:00 and 11:30 am Friday.
Match Play First and Second Rounds
August 13, 2008
PEBBLE BEACH – The vicissitudes of match play reared their head Wednesday at Spyglass Hill as seven of the top eight seeds went down in the first round, and none of the top 11 seeds advanced to the quarterfinals
On a day of upsets, of six players involved in the playoff Tuesday evening just to qualify for match play, five scored major victories in the first round.
Perhaps the match of the morning was a duel between seasoned veterans Mark Peel of Delray Beach, Florida and the Caddy Club of Pebble Beach and Jon Dechambeau of Belmont. Peel came back from a two-down deficit with four holes to go take a 2-up win. “We both had our chances,” Peel said. “It was a really good match. I didn’t play that well but was able to get something going on 15.” Indeed Peel would rattle off four straight holes to earn his way to the second round where he would lose to another Pebble Beach caddie, Chris Marin, 2 and 1. Marin will face Salinas Fairways’ Ricky Stockton (below left) in the quarterfinals after the 22-year-old defeated 47-year-old Jim Wilson of Butte Creek 1-up.
La Rinconada’s Matt Marshall, at the 12th seed, is the highest-seeded player still alive after defeating Alex Schmitt of the Meadow Club in the morning match and taking out the Olympic Club’s Devin Hexner 3 and 1 in the afternoon. Marshall will face Kevin Lozares of Palo Alto GC, a 1-up winner over Grant Norton of Rancho Murieta in the afternoon match.
Medalist and #1 seed Matthew Hollinseed drew a tough opening match in veteran Randy Haag. Hollinseed was unable to develop any momentum against the two-time champion of this same event and succumbed 3 and 2. Haag then lost to 16 seeded D.J. Fernando of Scratch Players 2 and 1. Fernando had earlier defeated Patrick Kucich of Brookside.
The Olympic Club’s Jon Peterson (above right) posted two lopsided upsets on the day, first taking out #8 seed Anthony Machi of Castlewood 4 and 2 and then upending 2007 NCGA Public Links champion Scott Hardy 4 and 3. The 35-year-old Granite Bay resident will face Fernando in the quarterfinals.
Mark Wyllie, a left-handed 16-year-old from San Jose, was the hottest golfer in the morning round, as he took out #2 seed Casey Boyns by virtue of five straight birdies on the back nine turning a 2-down deficit into a 3-and-2 win. Wyllie’s hot streak would run out in his afternoon match against Wes Leith of Wildhorse. Leith, who earlier beat Concord’s Bobby Bucey, won 4 and 3 over Wyllie and will face Clayton Davis of Atascadero in the quarterfinals.
August 12, 2008
PEBBLE BEACH – Focus has become Matt Hollinsead’s mantra in 2008.
In securing medalist honors at the NCGA Amateur, the former Cal State Stanislaus player demonstrated a maturity and patience that were in short supply in his recent past. After a triple bogey on the 5th hole in Tuesday’s second round knocked him out of the lead, the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champion maintained his composure. “A couple years ago I would have carried that with me to the next hole,” the 22-year old said. To demonstrate his new skills, the Sacramento City runner-up then birdied the next hole and powered his way to a two-under 34 on the back nine.
Hollinsead carded a one-over 73 total to add to his first-round 70 for a two-stroke win over #2 and #3 seeds Casey Boyns (right) and Mark Peel respectively. Boyns, at age 52, is a familiar face having won an unprecedented four NCGA Player of the Year awards, but Peel is making a strong showing for the first time in an NCGA event since finishing runner-up to Spencer Levin in the 2004 State Amateur. The resident of Delray Beach, Florida spends a few months a year in Northern California and plays out of the Caddy Club of Pebble Beach (Peel caddies the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am every year). The 53-year-old has demonstrated some serious game in the past, having qualified for five straight U.S. Amateurs from 2000-2004.
Other match-play qualifiers include #6 seed Tim Honeycutt (left) of Cold Springs who last week won his age division of NCGA Junior. Honeycutt played his way to the quarterfinals of the 2007 State Amateur at Monterey Peninsula CC and will attend St. Mary’s in the fall where he will play for the #9 seed in coach Scott Hardy. NCGA Public Links champion Kyle Prolo qualified as the #4 seed.
Defending champion Ryan Hallisey of Granite Bay, fresh off a runner-up finish in the Pacifc Coast Amateur in Victoria BC last week, finished one stroke out of a playoff at 155.
With the 100 points that go to the medalist, Hollinsead has expanded his lead in race for the 2008 Player of the Year award. “I am swinging really well right now and the win at the Stroke Play (in July) really gave me some confidence.”
Hollinsead will face two-time champion Randy Haag in the first round after a playoff involving nine players who finished at 154 for the final six spots determined the final 32-player match-play field.