2008 NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship
August 13-15, 2008
August 15, 2008
PEBBLE BEACH – Rob Thompson successfully defended his NCGA Senior Match Play title at Spyglass Hill Friday.
The retired teacher pocketed a big win over accomplished player Jeff Burda of Del Rio. The nail-biting back and forth match went to the 18th hole and Thompson hung in long enough to nab the championship after being down in the match most of the way.
Thompson, with his rugged swing, managed to scrap up and downs all over the course on the speedy Spyglass greens, while the longer-hitting Burda struggled in an unusually unpolished fashion.
On a golf course that was playing extremely difficult in the thick fog, Thompson felt the conditions played to his advantage, “the weather was an equalizer” he commented after the round. Burda got some bad breaks on a few holes, including three fried-egg lies in bunkers, which Thompson capitalized on. “He missed a few and I just kept plodding along,” admitted the back-to-back champion.
While both competitors played solid golf on the front nine, Burda had a 1-up lead heading into the back side. “I hit a lot of good putts and just played steady,” said the 2005 Senior Player of the Year. It wasn’t until the 14th hole that the Merced GCC member grabbed a lead in the match for the first time all day when Burda’s approach shot spun back into the water and he bogeyed the hole.
The momentum swung back in Burda’s favor when Thompson missed the green right on no. 16 and failed to make par, evening the match.
Then the tides changed once again when Thompson crafted a creative par from the cart path right of the 17th fairway. Burda posted a bogey from the front of the green with a missed 4-foot putt, which meant the defending NCGA Senior Four-Ball Champion was 1-up heading to 18.
It was a close contest all the way to the final putt on the 18th green, where Burda lipped-out a slippery 3-foot putt to decide the match.
Thompson admitted, “I think he’s a better player,” but in match play anything can happen. The last time the pair played together was at the Merced County Championship where Thompson lost to Burda by a single stroke when he discovered he had an extra club in his bag on the 2nd hole and incurred a four-stroke penalty. He had his playing partner from the day before to thank for putting his club in Thompson’s bag by mistake.
The NCGA veteran added this championship to an impressive resume that includes a NCGA Senior Strokeplay title, CGA Senior Amateur title and runner-up honors at the State Fair Senior Championship. Next on his agenda is the State Fair Senior Championship at Sacramento and then the CGA Senior Amateur at Poppy Hills in September.
August 14, 2008
PEBBLE BEACH – It was an 18 hole roller-coaster ride that rendered Thompson victorious in the first semifinal match of the NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play at Spyglass Hill.
Mark Miller of Lone Tree and Rob Thompson of Merced GCC faced off in a dramatic display of golf in the semifinals. Miller, the current leader of the NCGA Senior Points List, fought back from an early one-hole deficit to gain a 1-up lead heading into the back nine. Pars on 10 and 11 allowed him to hold onto the lead but the round really began at the par-3 12th hole. Thompson lost his ball off the tee and posted a double-bogey, while Miller managed to make bogey from a cart-path relief drop in the trees right of the green.
Thompson halved the 13th hole with a bogey while Miller flirted with the out-of-bounds stakes off the tee. Pars for both players at 14 and 15 meant Miller was still 2-up on the 16th tee. “I just kept thinking ‘hang in there’ because he had been getting good breaks all day,” commented
Thompson after the round. The tables turned on 16 when Miller found the lateral hazard on his second shot, while the defending champion hit his approach shot close for birdie. The 61-year-old Thompson then made a textbook par on 17 to tie-up the match heading down the final hole and a par on 18 capped the win. “You never know what’s going to happen – it’s a crazy game,” chuckled Thompson.
In the other half of the semifinal draw, Jeff Burda of Del Rio took on Douglas Johnson of Fig Garden in what turned out to be a whitewash. Burda a senior player rookie, showed no mercy with a cool 6-and-5 win. Both players showed some early-morning kinks on the first hole when their balls found the trees but Burda won the hole with a bogey 6.
Burda then found his gear with a string of pars to go 5-up after 8 holes. The Modesto resident rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 7, dunked a 15-foot putt for birdie on No. 8 and closed the door on the match with a par on the 13th hole.
The 55-year-old has the presigious Senior Player of the Year honor in his sights, “This tournament starts an important run for seniors,” commented Burda, who will face Thompson in the championship final.
Thompson likes his chances on the Spyglass course, “I’m looking forward to taking on Tiger-Burda at 7:15 am tomorrow,” Thompson smiled. Burda’s response? We will wait and see.
The final match tees off at Spyglass Hill on Friday at 7:15 am.
August 13, 2008
PEBBLE BEACH – Mark Miller nailed two big wins on the first day of the NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship.
Currently the number one ranked player in NCGA senior tournament play, Miller posted two convincing wins at Spyglass Hill on Wednesday to nudge his way into the semifinals, in a quest for his first NCGA title.
The Lone Tree member faced Earl Stewart of Meadow Club in the morning. It was a tight match until the 7th hole where Miller hit just short of the green in two, while Stewart pulled his shot left into the water and ended up conceding the hole. Miller then went 3-up after the 8th hole when Stewart found the left rough off the tee and a birdie on hole 11 led to a 4-and-3 win.
Miller, who was never down in a match all day, then went on to post a one-under-par for 14 holes and beat Chris McKenna of Sunset Whitney 5 and 4.
Miller faces fourth-ranked Rob Thompson tomorrow who is fresh off a 6-and-4 win over Bob Olds of Brentwood GC. Thompson, the defending champion, was at one-over-par when the matched ended on the 14th hole. Thompson played Bob Fleming of Sacramento in the first round and won 2 and 1.
Meanwhile, No. 2 ranked Jeff Burda will be one to watch for in tomorrow’s semifinal against Fig Garden’s Douglas Johnson. Burda beat Silverado’s Frank Abbott 3 and 2 in the quarterfinal match after coming off a 6 and 5 win in the morning.
The top players from the season long NCGA Senior Points List were invited to the championship. Semifinal matches start at 8:00 AM tomorrow, with the final being played on Friday morning.