44th Annual NCGA Four Ball Championship
Spyglass Hill GC
May 7-9, 2010
May 9, 2010
PEBBLE BEACH – Little did Randy Haag and Darryl Donovan know that when they first met at the ’84 U.S. Amateur their friendship would yield a dynamic four-ball partnership.
After claiming the NCGA Four-Ball Championship at Spyglass Hill in a two-hole playoff, their second NCGA title (the first coming in 2000), the duo has now won more than 10 four-ball championships.
The champions had started the final round four strokes off the lead established by Spring Hills’ Jack Hoenes and Gary Yoro. “We knew that if you were in striking range, with the conditions tougher today, that it would bring guys back to the field,” Haag said. Indeed the benign weather that greeted competitors the first two rounds was absent Sunday, and when Hoenes and Yoro made the turn at four over for the round, it was anyone’s ball game.
A Haag birdie at the 11th, a Donovan 20-footer on 15 and a birdie from out of a bunker by Donovan on 17 proved the difference, breaking a logjam of five groups at 11 under for the event. “That birdie on 17 was huge,” said Haag.
The fifth duo at 11 under turned out to be the last group to finish – Russell Humphrey of Woodbridge and James Watt of Lockeford Springs, who shared the lead at the end of the first round and were two back to start the day. It’s difficult to imagine a more memorable tournament for the 38-year-old Humphrey, as he traveled back to Lodi Saturday evening to be with his wife as she gave birth at 1:30 a.m. last night, and then returned to Spyglass at 6:00 a.m. this morning. On no sleep, Humphrey looked at a downhill 15-footer for birdie on the final hole to get his team into the playoff and jarred it.
But it was Donovan’s short game, which heated up on the final nine of regulation – the CordeValle member made a nine-footer to save par on the 18th hole – that proved the difference in the playoff. After pars on the first extra hole, the 50-year-old Donovan chipped in for birdie on the second, Spyglass’ tough 9th.
The Four-Ball adds to glittering resumes for both players. Donovan played professionally in the 90s, finishing 56th at the ’92 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as well as winning the ’99 NCGA Amateur and 2001 State Amateur after regaining his amateur status. The Four-Ball is the 51-year-old Haag’s 11th NCGA title, only three back of category leader Casey Boyns. The four-time and current NCGA Player of the Year praised the championship afterward: “We’re so lucky to play at a venue like this. I’d put the quality of this four-ball event against nationally.”
Back-to-back defending champions Taylor Travis and Ryan Sloane did not relinquish their title gently, at one point fighting to 12-under for the tournament and a tie for the lead, but the duo ended at 11-under and in a three-way tie for third with the Danny Paniccia/Mike Stieler and Jeff Hamm/Stephen Hale duos.