Pacific Coast Amateur
July 26-29, 2011
Williams Shoots Second Consecutive 66 To Come From Behind To Win 45th Pacific Coast Amateur
July 29, 2011
TRUCKEE – Prior to the 45th Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, Jim Holtgrieve, the 2011 United States Walker Cup Captain, urged the competitors to “play hard and earn a spot on the team.” Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho answered that challenge as he fired his second consecutive course-record round of 6-under-par 66 to win the prestigious title by two shots at Martis Camp near Lake Tahoe.
With multiple lead changes early and often and eagles soaring throughout the afternoon, the 21-year-old Williams, who earlier this month won the Sahalee Players Championship, finished at 11-under par with rounds of 73-72-66-66–277 over the scenic and challenging Tom Fazio-designed layout that once again stretched out to 7,766 yards. His win today gives him titles in two-thirds of the “West Coast Swing” of championships which also includes the Pacific Northwest Amateur.
Williams rallied from three shots off the pace to overtake third-round leader Taylor Travis of Fremont, Calif. and Anton Arboleda of La Canada, Calif. Travis, a 20-year-old rising junior at the University of San Francisco, battled to hold the lead all afternoon (he was tied with Williams on the 18th tee) but was ultimately undone by making bogey 6s on three of the four par-5 holes and then finishing with a bogey 5 on the 504-yard, par-4 finishing hole. Travis finished in a tie for second at 9-under par 69-70-69-71–279.
The 18-year-old Arboleda, who will be a sophomore this fall at UCLA, got off to a sizzling start, making two eagles in his first seven holes (he was 5 under par for the day after No. 7) but couldn’t sustain the momentum, finishing with 71-72-69-67 to match Travis’ 9-under-par total.
Mitchell Evanecz of Reed Deer, Alberta, and Derek Ernst of Clovis, Calif., who held the first-round lead after shooting then course record 67s, finished tied for fourth at 8-under par 280. Zac Blair, the winner of last week’s Pacific Northwest Amateur, wound up in sixth place today, closing with a 68 today for a 281 total.
Things didn’t look promising for Williams when he plugged his opening drive under the lip of a fairway bunker, ultimately making bogey 5. Ignoring the bad break, Williams went birdie-eagle-birdie on the next three holes to take what would be a short-lived lead. The first of his two eagles on the day came after he laced a 5-iron second shot to within eight feet on the 568-yard, par-5 fourth hole.
Arboleda mounted a furious early charge, sinking a 45-foot eagle putt on the fourth hole and holing out from a greenside bunker for eagle 3 on the 565-yard seventh hole to seize the lead. It lasted about 10 minutes because Travis, playing in the group behind Arboleda, knocked his second shot to within six feet of the hole and sank the eagle putt to retake the advantage.
Two-shot swings were the order of the day as Williams made birdie 4 on the 642-yard 10th hole, while Travis three-putted for bogey. Travis answered back when his eight-iron shot danced around the 13th hole, settling inches away, and then sinking a 15-foot putt over a hump for a birdie 2 on the 170-yard 14th hole.
The 569-yard 15th hole ultimately proved to be decisive. Williams knocked his 4-iron approach shot off a bank and rolled it to within 15 feet of the flagstick and drained the putt for an eagle 3. “That approach was the shot I played all week,” said Williams after his round. “The slope made it the obvious choice.” Meanwhile, Travis hit what he later termed “just a bad” shot into a fairway bunker 60 yards from the green, ultimately making bogey 6 to fall a shot off of the lead.
The back-and-forth continued apace. On the 314-yard 16th hole, Travis’ drive was in thick rough below the green and his chip hit the flagstick, stopping inches away. “I actually thought I had made it,” he said later. “It hit the flagstick pretty square and just didn’t drop in. That was sort of the day I had.”
Faced with what he termed “a wild lie” under a lip in a bunker a foot away from where Travis’ drive had landed, Williams did well to get his explosion shot on the green and ultimately two-putted for par to fall back into a tie for the lead.
Meanwhile, Arboleda — who had made eight pars and a bogey over a nine-hole stretch — got back to within one shot of the lead when he drained a downhill, sliding 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, but he missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the final hole. “You don’t expect to make two eagles in a round, let alone in seven holes,” said Arboleda after his round. “I kept hitting good shots and tried to stay aggressive while playing smart at the same time.”
After Williams and Travis parred the 17th, Travis hooked his drive into thick rough and trees on the finishing hole. “I expected that he’d be able to make par,” said Williams of Travis, “so I figured I’d have to make birdie to win.” Williams bombed his drive 384 yards to the right center of the fairway.
“I hit my driver well all week,” he said later. “It was the best club in my bag.” He then lofted a lob wedge from 120 yards to within three feet of the flagstick. Travis knocked his approach shot 20 feet past the flagstick and, after he missed the par putt, Williams calmly sank the birdie putt for the two-shot win and a final round that matched the course record he had set the day before. (Earlier in the day, USC student Martin Trainer of Palo Alto, Calif. and Stanford University golf coach Conrad Ray had also matched the record).
After the round, Williams spoke of his dream of playing on the U.S. Walker Cup team, which will play a 10-man team from Great Britain in the 42nd renewal of the matches Sept. 9-10 at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland.
“I would absolutely love to be on the team,” said Williams, who played in the U.S. Open last June, was a member of the U.S. Palmer Cup that same month and won the NCAA’s Phil Mickelson Award winner as the nation’s top freshman golfer in 2010. “Playing for your country is such a great honor; it’s a totally different experience from playing college golf or even in something like the Palmer Cup. But there are so many good players out there. I’m heading to Chicago to play in the Western Amateur next week and we’ll see where things go from there.”
July 28, 2011
TRUCKEE – Fremont’s Taylor Travis continued his stellar play this week at the Pacific Coast Amateur at Martis Camp and opened up a three-shot lead over the rest of the field. Travis sits at 208, 8-under par after three rounds of play as he followed his 69-70 with another 69.
After a front nine that included two birdies and a bogey, Travis seemed to have little problem with the back nine as he scored back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 along with seven pars. “I made a lot of good up-and-downs for pars,” explained Travis about his play on Thursday.
Travis’s nearest competitors include co-leader in the first and second rounds Derek Ernst of Clovis, who lies at 5-under 211. After tying the competitive course record of 5-under 67 on Tuesday, Ernst couldn’t get any further under par as he shot his second straight even par 72. Ernst had a rather consistent scorecard that included just one birdie and one bogey with the rest pars.
The NCGA team member of this year’s 2011 Morse Cup champions explained that he hit the ball great and that he could have easily been under par on Thursday. “I had lots of looks and missed five putts of 12 feet or less,” he said.
Also three shots back of the lead are Mitchell Evanecz out of Alberta, Canada and Chris Williams out of Moscow, Idaho. Evanecz shared the first round lead with Ernst as he also posted a 5-under 67 on Tuesday, while Williams scored a new competitive course record at Martis Camp with a 6-under 66 on Thursday. Williams had eight birdies in his round, which included a stretch of four straight holes (14-17) with the under par score.
Still not out of it is Diablo resident and 2009 California State Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez, who’s four shots off the lead at 4-under 212. Gonzalez had four birdies on the day to go along with two bogeys. He is just one of three players to have shot all three rounds under par (71-71-70).
Tomorrow’s final group will be Travis, Williams and Evanecz as they tee off at 9:40 off the first tee. NCGA members Gonzalez and Ernst will tee off in the second to last group at 9:30 off of number one. The last NCGA golfer to win the Pacific Coast Amateur was in 2006—the last time the NCGA was the host association—as Patrick Nagle of Pacifica won it at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
July 27, 2011
TRUCKEE – The NCGA team walked away with the Morse Cup on Tuesday after accruing the best two-day team score of 284 at the Pacific Coast Amateur. The team of Derek Ernst, Martin Trainer and Kevin Wentworth beat Colorado who finished at 287 and Alberta Canada at 288. The Morse Cup competition takes the best two of three scores from each association’s three-man team. The Northern California team started the day one-shot off of the lead and alone in third place as they had to overtake the stellar playing of the associations from Alberta, Canada and Colorado. After Derek Ernst carried the NCGA team yesterday, Palo Alto’s Martin Trainer shot a solid 70, which was only one shot off the day’s low round.
“I just played pretty good,” said Trainer. “I didn’t make that many mistakes and my putting was much improved; it was hideous yesterday.”
Ernst, who was tied going into the lead today, remained tied for the lead by the day’s end. After shooting a competition course record 67 yesterday, Ernst played at a level even-par 72 Wednesday. Early in the round though it looked as if Ernst might fall down the leaderboard as he bogeyed two of the first three holes; however after going his first 12 holes without a birdie, he scored three birdies in his last six.
“I just stayed patient out there,” explained Ernst on his strong comeback. “I knew I got two-over really quick and I was getting a little frustrated, but you have to stay patient because there’s a lot of opportunities out there.”
The NCGA hasn’t had possession of the Morse Cup since it won it in 2002 at San Diego Country Club. The players of this year’s Morse Cup team are excited to be a part of this victory.
“That’s great for us,” said Ernst, “to get Northern California back in the mix is a great thing.”
Now the final two days of competition focus on the individual play and two Northern California players are tied for first. Besides Ernst, Taylor Travis of Fremont followed his 69 yesterday with a 70 today for a tie of the lead at 5-under par. Also not out of it is Diablo resident and former California State Am champ Geoff Gonzalez at 2-under par.
July 26, 2011
TRUCKEE – Derek Ernst, the Clovis resident, is at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the 45th Pacific Coast Amateur at Martis Camp. Ernst shot an impressive 67 on the 7,777-yard course and is currently tied with Mitchell Evanecz of Reb Deer, Alberta Canada. Ernst’s round included seven birdies, four of those coming on the front-nine. With his round Ernst tied the competitive course record for the fairly new Martis Camp.
“I’m just trying to play one shot at a time, trite as it sounds,” said Ernst as he competes for the Pacific Coast Am title.
With his impressive round Ernst has helped put the Northern California team in good position to compete for the Pacific Coast Amateur team title as the NCGA team is currently in third 2-under par. Colorado and Alberta are in first place of the team competition posting scores of 3-under par. The team competition, known as the Morse Cup, takes the best two of three scores from each association’s three-man team. Ernst didn’t receive much help from his other two teammates Martin Trainer and Kevin Wentworth as the two struggled shooting 4-over 76 and 3-over 75 respectively. The team part of the competition will conclude tomorrow.
Besides the Northern California team several of the top amateur golfers in the region got invitations to play in this year’s Pacific Coast Amateur, in large-part due to the NCGA being the host association. Taylor Travis of Fremont had the best showing of Northern California individuals as he shot a 3-under 69 Tuesday to put himself alone in fourth place. Former California State Amateur champion (2009) and Diablo resident Geoff Gonzalez shot a solid 71 1-under to put himself only a few shots out of the lead.
Current NCGA Stroke Play Champion Scott Hardy hasn’t played a round of golf since his recent championship, but felt okay about his round of 74 Tuesday saying he needs to improve on his approach shots.
“If you’re not close to these holes the putting is crazy, you have these long breaking putts that are hard” he said.
Other NCGA players in the field include: Conrad Ray, Kyle Souza, Michael Weaver at 1-over 73, Jake Johnson at 2-over 74, John Catlin at 3-over 75, Matt Hansen at 4-over 76, Kevin Andrews at 6-over 78, Sam Smith at 7-over 79 and Ryan Hallisey at 10-over 82.