NCGA Valley Amateur Championship
Steven Chung claimed the NCGA Valley Amateur Championship at Winchester CC.
The 22-year-old came from one-stroke back to win the championship by a single stroke over the field. After losing in a six-hole playoff last year, Chung felt like it was well overdue to etch his name on the trophy.
The Sacramento resident fired rounds of 69-77 to finish at two-over-par 146 for the biggest win of his amateur career. “I like the course and it fits my game,” Chung commented after the round.
It was touch and go for a while when Chung found the water off the tee on the par-3 15th and made a double-bogey. But the Morgan Creek member kept his focus and knew that he was competing for the title when a course marshall told him on the 17th tee that he had a one-stroke lead. “I knew I had a one-stroke lead coming down 18 and all I had to do was two-putt the final green,” he said with a smile.
Chung accredits his good playing this week to working on his game with swing coach Keith Lyford and from experience in playing the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst where he qualified with 140.
Ben Geyer of Arbuckle GC made a late charge for the championship with a final-round three-under-par 69 to take the runner-up spot at 147. Meanwhile, NCGA Amateur Match Play Champion Matthew Marshall posted a final-round 77 to tie for third with Matthew Hollinsead at four-over-par 148.
In his rookie year of NCGA senior competition, Jim Knoll is making a charge at the coveted Player of the Year honor.
The 55-year-old captured the NCGA Senior Valley Amateur today with a poetic seven-under-par 65 that sent jaws dropping as players came in from their round and saw the scoreboard. The round included seven birdies and no bogeys and followed up a first-round 77 to nab the tournament by a single stroke over No. 1 ranked Jeff Burda.
Although the scorecard suggested a blemish-free round, the golf shots were not entirely text book. On the par-5 4th hole, he tried to lay up with a 4-iron, but the shot found the water hazard instead. Knoll still managed to save par on the hole with a 15-foot holed-putt. “I putted good for a change,” commented the Sunnyvale resident after the round, “I’ve been struggling with my putter all year.”
Overnight leader Bob Fleming of Haggin Oaks posted a 77 to tie for third with John Enright of the Olympic Club at five-over-par 149.
Knoll, a Rooster Run GC member is currently third on the NCGA Senior Rankings and has been quietly edging his way up the list as the 2008 season has progressed, aided by a win at the San Francisco City Senior Championship. “I’m playing more golf this year. It’s fun to be able to compete again and have some success now that I’m not playing against the kids anymore,” said Knoll who admits that the friendly rivalry of the senior competitions has inspired a newfound energy into his golf game.
The win represents the first time that Knoll has defeated Burda head-to-head all year. The pair teamed together to win the Roddy Ranch Four-Ball earlier in the season, then Knoll finished runner-up to Burda at the Manteca City Senior.
The printing salesman cites his biggest career achievement as making the cut for the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straights in 2007. The Spartan alumni will look to continue his success at the upcoming California State Senior at Poppy Hills and U.S. Senior Amateur in Shady Oaks, Texas.
Valley Amateur Champion Steven Chung, runner-up Ben Geyer
and third-place ties Matt Hollinsead and Matt Marshall.
Senior Champion Jim Knoll, runner-up Jeff Burda
and third-place ties Bob Fleming and John Enright.