100th California State Amateur Championship
The Olympic Club
June 20-25, 2011
June 25, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO - The third time was the charm for Bhavik Patel of Bakersfield, who captured the 100th playing of the California State Amateur at storied Olympic Club.
The Bakersfield resident failed to qualify for match play in the two previous championships, but rode a hot putter to an 8-and-6 victory over Kevin Wentworth of Arnold in the final. Wentworth was bidding to become the first mid-amateur since Don DuBois in 2005 to win the title. The final tally is the most lopsided result since 1996 when Mark Johnson won 8 and 7 over Brian Crocker. Patel’s win also makes it six wins in the last seven years for Southern Californians – Geoff Gonzalez’s title at Lake Merced in 2009 the lone exception.
As with nearly all his matches on the week, the champion established an early lead by winning holes 5-7 to take a 3-up advantage. Patel closed the morning round 3-up, based primarily on the strength of his putter and mental fortitude. Despite hitting only four of 14 fairways and eight of 18 greens, Patel carded a 73 by making the putts he needed to. On 16, the long par-5, Patel canned a 10-footer for birdie after watching his opponent hole out from the front bunker.
“When you have greens that roll well and you make a good putt, it goes in,” Patel said regarding his hot putter. “And it pays to have a local caddie.” Both competitors had never played Olympic before this week and sometimes were perplexed by the firm greens and foggy, cold weather during the final. Approach shots were almost routinely short throughout that match, placing a premium on the short game, an ability the champion demonstrated multiple times. “The wind swirls out here and seemed to be hurting all day,” Patel said. “My short game and putter won me the match.”
After the lunch break, Patel, a rising senior at Fresno State, more than doubled his lead via winning four of the first five holes. The 4th hole told the tale of match, as Patel hit a push-fade off the tee that ended up in the adjacent fairway and Wentworth followed him with a hook into the long weeds for a lost ball. “The door was open and I just couldn’t walk through,” Wentworth said. The 7-up lead held through the next six holes where the players matched par for par. Patel secured the championship on the 12th hole, the 30th of the match, with a birdie. Wentworth managed to only win two holes on the day.
“I just didn’t have my game today,” the runner-up said. “I can’t take anything away from Bhavik, but simple shots I made look hard.” Wentworth’s steady short game was cold throughout the day, and the Arnold resident failed to capitalize on any of the champion’s mistakes. “He made a ton of putts,” Wentworth said. “And I wish I could have matched him. He found a way and I never got any momentum.”
The 27-year-old Wentworth had never tasted the kind of success he achieved this week, and clearly enjoyed the championship. “It was a great experience,” he said.
For Patel, the championship not only propels him toward a stellar final collegiate season, it provided a necessary lesson to an aspiring professional career. “I’ve got a long way to go, but if I can hit my driver straight I can really compete. This golf course taught me that,” he said. “But knowing a lot of the names on that trophy and winning here at Olympic in the 100th championship…it’s a dream come true.”
Live Finals Blog
Hole 1 – Both players off the tee strong and display deft short games in making birdie. All Square
Hole 2 – Wentworth misses 5 footer to win hole. All Square
Hole 3 – Patel up and down for par. Patel 1-up
Hole 4 – Patel misses green. Wentworth makes par. All Square
Hole 5 – Wentworth misses green. Patel makes par. Patel 1-up
Hole 6 – Both players miss green. Patel gets up and down. Patel 2-up
Hole 7 – Wentworth 3 putts. Patel 3-up
Hole 8 – Both par. Patel 3-up
Hole 9 – Wentworth makes clutch bogey after blocking drive. Halved hole. Patel 3-up
Hole 10 – Patel makes great recovery after missed drive. Halved hole. Patel 3-up
Hole 11 – Both hit green and 2-putt. Patel 3-up
Hole 12 – Patel in bunker and gets up and down. Patel 3-up
Hole 13 – Both miss green and get up
and down. Patel 3-up.
Hole 14 – Patel in bunker. Wentworth pars. Patel 2-up
Hole 15 – Patel makes clutch par putt. Halved hole. Patel 2-up
Hole 16 – Wentworth holes bunker shot for birdie. Patel answers with 10 footer. Patel 2-up
Hole 17 – Both miss birdie chances. Patel 2-up
Hole 18 – Both miss green. Patel gets up and down Patel 3-up.
Hole 19 – Patel makes birdie. Patel 4-up
Hole 20 – Wentworth 3 putts. Patel 5-up
Hole 21 – Patel misses green and saves par with a nice 12 footer. Patel 5-up
Hole 22 – Wentworth loses ball off tee. Patel makes bogey to win hole. Patel 6-up
Hole 23 – Wentworth hits tree with approach shot, makes double bogey. Patel 7-up
Hole 24 – Both players again short. Both players get up and down. Patel 7-u.
Hole 25 – Patel tries to drive green. Misses way right and salvages par. Patel 7-up
Hole 26 – Wentworth misses green, makes par putt. Patel 7-up
Hole 27 – Both players par. Patel 7-up
Hole 28 – Both players par. Patel 7-up
Hole 29 – Both players par. Patel dormie 7
Quarterfinals and Semifinals
June 24, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – Bhavik Patel will face Kevin Wentworth in the finals of the 100th California State Amateur.
Patel defeated home-course favorite Randy Haag on Olympics’ Lake Course 3 and 1, following the same game plan that has served the rising senior at Fresno State and all week. “In all my matches I’ve been able to get an early lead,” he said. “Once you do that, on this course, pars will win. It’s crucial to hit fairways and greens and if I can do that, there’s a good chance I can get up early.”
The Bakersfield resident notched wins on two of the first three holes and was 4-up at the turn, posting an impressive 33. Haag, who was seeking to become the oldest State Amateur champion (Vern Callison was 47 when he won in 1965), was able to close the lead to two holes after 16, but was unable to get any closer.
Patel made the semifinals of the 2009 U.S. Amateur and last year advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Public Links at Bryan Park in North Carolina. He was a first team All-WAC performer last year and captured the University of San Diego Invitational championship.. In the morning quarterfinals, Patel defeated Tain Lee of San Juan Capistrano 4 and 3, establishing an early 3-up lead and never letting up. Patel has made two previous trips to the State Amateur, both times missing the cut.
Haag’s morning match was testament to his experience. After getting 2-down to medalist Philip Chian quickly, the veteran recovered with two birdies, including one made after hitting a tree with his tee ball. Haag then proceeded to play virtually mistake-free golf, letting the 20-year-old Chian make two critical errors: a bunkered tee shot on the 15th and a three-putt bogey on 16 that proved the difference in the match.
Kevin Wentworth knocked out the #2 seeded Jake Johnson in a match that also boasted an early lead for the winner. The 27-year-old Wentworth won holes 2-4 with pars and stood 4-up after the 1oth hole. But some loose swings, including double bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes, led to only a 1-up advantage by the final hole. A clutch par saved the 1-up win for the Arnold resident. It was the second match on the day to reach the 18th, continuing a championship-long trend (only eight matches overall of the 30 played have reached the final hole).
“He didn’t give up and that kept me focused,” Wentworth said regarding his big early advantage. “I had a big lead but it didn’t feel like it.”
Wentworth defeated Cory McElyea of Santa Cruz in the morning quarterfinals 2-up in a match that the Cal-State East Bay alum didn’t take control of until it was nearly over. Johnson, a Cal State Sacramento student, took out USC Trojan Sam Smith 4 and 3, winning holes 11-13 to put the match away.
For Wentworth, reaching the finals represents the next step in a lifelong plan: “This is where I want to be competing. I knew I could get to this level; it’s just taken me longer than others since I have a homemade swing. I still have professional aspirations.”
For the third year in a row, the finals feature a mid-amateur (Wentworth, though barely one at age 27) versus a college player (Patel). The last two years the collegian has come out on top.
Round of 16 Recap
June 23, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – Eight players advanced to the quarterfinals of the 100th California State Amateur at the Olympic Club after Thursday’s round of 16 action.
The first two matches of the day were a virtual replay of Wednesday’s first round in that they both ended early. Medalist and #1 seed Philip Chian of Covina took out Cal alum George Gandranata 5 and 4 while Olympic Club member Randy Haag bested Cameron Rappleye of Elk Grove 4 and 3. The winners of both matches started with early leads and never let up.
Chian credits a stellar 67 during the final round at the Braveheart Classic in late April that propelled his Long Beach State team to victory for kick-starting the roll the 20 year-old has been on. “My game’s always been consistent but my college coach has helped me with my short game and it’s been getting better and better,” Chian said. He faces Haag in the quarterfinals in a match-up of the #1 and #25 seeds.
Haag has a spot in the State Amateur quarterfinals for the 10th time and the second year in a row. Champion Scott Travers took out the 52-year-old in 2010, a loss that still bothers the five time NCGA Player of the Year. “I had him on the ropes but I let it get away from me,” he said. “But that’s match play. To win this tournament you can’t have a bad day. This course is playing tough, so if you can get a lead, you can force your opponent to make birdies to catch you.”
Jake Johnson of Cameron Park defeated Shotaro Ban of San Jose 8 and 7 as Ban struggled. Johnson, a rising senior at Sacramento State was a first team All-American Big Sky Conference selection in 2011.
Johnson plays Sam Smith, a rising junior at USC. Smith upended Aaron West of Woodland Hills 3 and 2. “I didn’t have many expectations last time I played in the State Amateur (at Lake Merced in 2009),” explained Smith as it was his first time making it to match play. The 2007 NCGA Junior champion lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Geoff Gonzalez. This time he claims he is much better prepared and not as “haphazard” as he was in 2009. Smith has been looking forward to this event for quite some time too because last year he was unable to play due to a scheduling conflict.
The Turlock resident posted an impressive 36-hole qualifying score of 141 (1-under) good enough for a seven seed in match play. His first two matchups were against two more experienced players in Bryan Hogan and West, but he was able to come away with victories, though closer ones than he would have liked. One advantage Smith has is having his 18 year-old brother Paul on the bag. According to Smith he is 6-1 all-time in match play with his brother on the bag and as Paul points out, “it’s free.”
“It would be an extreme honor to be on the trophy with all those other players who have won, and it would be a boost of confidence in my ability to compete among top players,” he said.
Fresno State’s Bhavik Patel advanced with a 4 and 2 win over Pace Johnson. The Bakersfield resident faces Tain Lee of San Juan Capistrano in an all-Southern California match (there are three Southern Californians and five Northern Californians amongst the final eight). Lee is a rising senior at Claremont McKenna and finished runner-up at the NCAA Division III championship in May.
Arnold’s Kevin Wentworth, at age 27 the second oldest player left in the field, blew out Ben Geyer of Arbuckle 5 and 4. Wentworth will face Cory McElyea of Santa Cruz, who knocked out Ben Doyle of La Jolla. McElyea is a rising sophomore at the University of Washington. Wentworh is a Cal State Hayward alum, where he was NCAA Division III third team All-America.
Doyle comes up short: The 15 year-old La Jolla resident Ben Doyle came up short Thursday losing to Santa Cruz’s Cameron McElyea 1 up. Doyle was trying to become the youngest competitor ever to win the California State Amateur overtaking Mac Hunter’s 1972 win; Hunter at the time was 16 years-old.
Age difference: Four of the five players at 20 years of age advanced to the quarterfinals Thursday, and it very well could have been all five players were it not for one of them needing to be eliminated in the (Pace) Johnson-Patel match. The median age has gone up by two points from Wednesday as the average age of the eight remaining players is 24.8. The oldest of that group still belongs to Haag at 52, while the youngest player left is McElyea at 19.
18th hole not getting play: After two days worth of matches only four of the 24 matches have gone the distance thus far. Three made it to 18 in the round of 32 and one made it on Thursday (McElyea-Doyle). Additionally, only one match has gone extra holes, the West-Stewart match on Wednesday. Of the remaining eight players McElyea is the only player to have needed to play it in match play thus far, whether that becomes an advantage over the next two days remains to be seen.
First Round of Match Play Recap
June 22, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – The 18th hole at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course was a lonely hole most of the first round of the 100th California State Amateur.
The inherent drama the match-play format usually provides was absent under more Olympic-like summer weather of cold and fog as it took until the 10th match of 16 to reach the 18th hole and only three total went the distance for the day.
Medalist and #1 seed Philip Chian, playing in his first State Amateur, dispatched Mark Harding of Hermosa Beach 2 and 1, overcoming the so-called “medalist jinx.” The Long Beach State junior was not as sharp as during stroke play qualifying, where he posted rounds of 67-69, but appears to have his game in a good groove. “I wasn’t hitting it well today,” the 20 year old said. “But I was getting it up and down real well and I’m real confident in my game right now.” And the medalist jinx? “I heard about that but Geoff Gonzalez was medalist and champion two years ago, so maybe that doesn’t apply to this event.”
One of the biggest upsets of the first round would be difficult to consider an upset given the pedigree of the winner, five-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag. The Olympic Club member took out fellow Olympian, 8-seed Matt Hansen, a rising sophomore at UC Davis. At age 52, Haag is the oldest player left in the event by nearly 25 years, and has his eyes firmly fixed on the perhaps the one event he hasn’t won in his storied career. “This would finish the chess set for me,” the 11-time Olympic club champion said. “This one has been elusive. It’s my home course and sometimes there’s more pressure.”
The hottest player on the day is also the youngest, as 15-year-old Ben Doyle of La Jolla blew out Jack Perry of Santa Barbara 6 and 5, after a building a 7-up lead through nine holes. No former champions are left in the field, as ’09 champion Geoff Gonzalez lost to Cameron Rappleye of Elk Grove 5 and 4 while ’07 champion Josh Anderson was upended by 17-year-old Shotaro Ban 1-up.
George Gandranata, the 2009 NCGA Amateur champion, booked a ticket to the round of 16 with a 2-and-1 victory over Cameron Champ. The Cal alum is not known for his length and was often giving up more than 50 yards off the tee. But a deft short game allowed the 2010 San Francisco City champ to build a 3-hole lead and hold on. Gandranata plays Chian Thursday. “My chipping and putting saved me,” he said. “And I got a lot of good breaks.”
Southern Californians Xander Schauffele and Tain Lee will face each other Thursday after defeating Scott McGihon and Derek Ernst respectively. Jake Johnson of Cameron Park, the #2 seed, defeated reigning NCGA Amateur champion John Catlin 2 and 1 and will play Ban. Fresno’s Pace Johnson, the #5 seed, won his match over Robert Salomon 4 and 3 and plays Bhavik Patel of Bakersfield, who upset the #12-seeded Kevin Dougherty of Murrieta.
The #3 seed, Cory McElyea of Santa Cruz, avoided the big upset with a 1-up win over Diablo’s Ryan Thomas. McElyea faces Ben Doyle in the Round of 16. USC’s Sam Smith took out Bryan Hogan of Bakersfield while fellow Trojan Martin Trainer of Palo Alto was upset by Kevin Wentworth of Arnold.
Weather report: After two beautiful sun-filled days on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday’s weather was a drastic change. Instead of temperatures in the mid-70s, temperatures were in the high 40s and low 50s in the morning with heavy fog. Many players thought there might be a delay due to low visibility, but all matches got off without delay.
Odds and ends: Two left-handers made it to match play Matthew Stewart of Lodi and Diablo’s Ryan Thomas, but both had early exits leaving the field with 16 right handed golfers. Of the 16 competitors left the median age is 22.5 years. Age 20 is the most common age as five players (Chian, Lee, Pace Johnson, Patel and Smith). The oldest player in the final 16 is Orinda’s Randy Haag at age 52 while the youngest is La Jolla’s Ben Doyle age 15. Moreover, Haag is the only golfer over 30 years of age as the next oldest is 28 year-old Aaron West. For the most part it paid off to have honors off the first tee as 11 of the higher seeded players advanced, making a total of five upsets. The lowest seed to advance was Arnold’s Kevin Wentworth, a 27 seed.
June 21, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – Two things carried over from Monday at the 100th California State Amateur, one was the gorgeous weather, which is atypical for the Olympic Club, and two was the lead still belonged to Phillip Chian.
Chian followed his stellar 67 Monday with a 69 Tuesday on the more challenging Lake Course at the Olympic Club. With that 136 total, Chian earns medalist honors at the 100th California State Amateur and the number one seed in match play competition beginning tomorrow.
It didn’t look good for Chian early in the round as he had three consecutive bogeys on holes two through four. Then, after converting his first birdie on the eighth hole, he gave it right back on the ninth with another bogey, making the turn at 3-over for the day, 1-under for the tournament.
“I guess I was nervous [at the start of the round],” said Chian, “I scrambled the first six holes.”
But something changed at the start of his second nine and he came out firing scoring five birdies and four pars, posting an incredible 31, 5-under par.
“My putter just started getting hot,” said the Long Beach State junior. “I was just a lot more focused on the back nine; instead of thinking not where to hit it, I thought of where I should hit it.”
Chian’s closest competitor was Cameron Park’s Jake Johnson who shot a 36-hole 139 (3-under), good enough for the second seed in match play. Santa Cruz’s Cory McElyea and San Diego’s Xander Schauffele round out the top-4 seeds as both players finished in a tie for third at 2-under, 140.
The low round of the day went to Los Osos’ Matt Hansen, who shot a 5-under 66 on the Ocean Course. Hansen, whose home course is the Olympic Club, shot his 66 with five birdies and no bogeys after a first round 75 on the Lake Course. He draws fellow Olympic Club member and multiple NCGA player of the year recipient Randy Haag in the first round of match play, guaranteeing that an Olympic Club member will make it to the round of 16.
“It’s too bad we have to play each other this early, it would probably be better if we played each other in the finals,” said Haag.
The cutline for match play came at 145 (4-over) and had nine players competing for the last two spots in a sudden death playoff. NCGA Amateur champion John Catlin of Carmichael and Mark Harding of Hermosa Beach outlasted the other seven players and draw the top two seeds in the first round, respectively. Defending champion Scott Travers missed match play finishing at 6-over par, 147. Geoff Gonzalez, the 2009 champion, drew the 24th seed and will face the 9th seed Cameron Rappleye.
Twenty-one NCGA players and 11 SCGA players qualified for match play, reversing the usual roles between the north and the south. Match play commences tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. with medalist Phillip Chian taking on Mark Harding.
The North/South Challenge is a two day competition between the Northern California Golf Association and the Southern California Golf Association which took place during stroke play qualifying on Monday and Tuesday. The winning team holds the rights to the Roger Lapham Challenge Cup. Each team is selected by their respective association. The final results are based on the best five scores out of six for each of the teams for a two day total score. The NCGA team reclaimed the Lapham Cup bettering the SCGA’s 736 with a 724. It was the first time the NCGA has had the trophy in its possession since 2008 when the NCGA beat the SCGA 721-722. The NCGA team was led by Palo Alto’s Martin Trainer, who shot a two-day 141 and earned the sixth seed in match play.