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5th NCGA Senior Match Play Championship

Spyglass Hill
August 17-19, 2011

August 19, 2011

by Spencer Sorensen

PEBBLE BEACH – Casey Boyns added another NCGA title to his already impressive resume. Friday at 10:50 a.m. on the 18th hole of Spyglass Hill, Boyns knocked off Jeff Burda 1-up to win the 5th Annual Senior Amateur Match Play Championship.

The final match lived up to its hype as two of the previous four finals have featured a #4 seed (Boyns) versus a #2 seed (Burda), with the seeds splitting the championships 1-1, and those matches having gone 18 and 19 holes, respectively. This match was no different as only five of the holes were halved and the lead changed three times, with the match going the distance.

Champion: Casey Boyns

Boyns had the first lead of the day sinking a 25-foot birdie on the 1st, but quickly relinquished it when he double-bogeyed the 2nd and bogeyed the 3rd. When he lost the third hole it was the first time Boyns trailed a match after 45 holes of play.

“Yeah, I was thinking after I lost that hole ‘here we go,’ but coming back and winning (number) four was important,” he said.

On the 4th, Burda had hit his approach shot in the greenside fescue and failed to get up-and-down, allowing Boyns to win with a par. The next three holes were the least climatic of the match as the two players exchanged pars with three halves. On the 8th hole, one of the toughest on the course, Burda hit his approach to 20 feet and sank the birdie putt to go 1-up. However, that was the last time he’d lead the match as numbers nine, 10 and 11 went in Boyns’ favor.

“That was pretty much the match,” said Burda of a three-hole stretch where he went bogey-bogey-par to Boyns’ par-par-birdie.

However, things weren’t exactly over, when on the par-3 12th Boyns bogeyed after hitting his tee shot into the pond, cutting his lead to only 1-up. The 13th was then halved and on the 14th it looked like Burda might be able to win another hole after Boyns chunked his third shot from 100 yards out that went about 40 yards. Burda was in the fairway for his 90-yard third shot, but his ball was lying in divot and he advanced it to the short rough in front of the green. Boyns then hit his 60-yard fourth shot to 15 feet and made his putt for par. Burda on the other hand bogeyed after he chipped up to 10 feet away and missed his par putt going 2-down in the match

“That was a hard up-and-down,” said Boyns. “And that putt, I believe, was the key putt of the match.”

The 15th, 16th and 17th added more drama as Burda three-putted the par-3 15th from 30 feet to go three down with three to play. The match seemed to be over but then Boyns was looking at bogey on 16 and Burda had a 20-foot birdie putt that he only needed to two-putt, yet instead he calmly knocked it in. On the 17th after Boyns lagged his birdie putt to gimme range, Burda needed to sink his 25-foot putt lying below the hole and he did exactly that.

Having lost the last two holes after being dormie-3, Boyns wasn’t feeling nearly as good as he was only a couple holes earlier, “the tee shot on 18 is my least favorite on this golf course and I don’t ever like going to 18 in match play,” he said. Despite not liking the tee shot Boyns’ found the fairway and subsequently the green, yet he left himself with a 50-foot putt. Burda on the other hand hit his approach shot from the right rough to 25-feet, but after his birdie putt went by the hole, Boyns had a four-footer to win the match, which found the center of the cup.

With the victory Boyns became the first golfer to ever win both the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship (having won in 1987) and the Senior Match Play Championship.

“It’s kind of cool to have won both events,” said Boyns. “You know I have been playing forever and it’s always nice to get a victory.”

Burda, who won this event in 2009 and had a runner-up finish in 2008 was disappointed not to win, but at the same time happy for Boyns.

“He played tough,” he said. “He was the guy who made the fewest mistakes and deserved to win.”

Next up for Boyns and Burda is another match play event, the U.S. Senior Amateur at Kinloch Golf Club in Virginia during the second week of September. Boyns qualified for the event on Monday of this week having to beat out Dan Bieber in an 8-hole playoff for his spot, and ironically enough he ended up playing Bieber two days later in the quarterfinals of this event. Burda on the other hand didn’t have to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur as he is exempt after an impressive showing last year having made it to the semifinals.

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August 18, 2011

by Spencer Sorensen

PEBBLE BEACH – The Friday final in the 5th Annual NCGA Senior Match Play is set. After semifinal rounds took place on Thursday morning, Casey Boyns and Jeff Burda are the two golfers who came away victorious and will tee off at 7:15 a.m. Friday in an 18-hole match against one another at Spyglass Hill.

Casey Boyns

Boyns played in the first match of the day facing two-time Senior Match Play Champion Rob Thompson and cruised to a 6 and 5 win, not losing a single hole. Thompson, who took out number one seed Jim Knoll in 19 holes yesterday by scoring five birdies in his quarterfinal match, struggled Thursday as he failed to convert a single birdie and instead had six bogeys through 12 holes. On the 13th hole after Thompson lied three with his ball on the fringe and Boyns lying two with his ball 10 feet away, Thompson announced he was done, ending the match. It looked as if Boyns played fairly well Thursday with four birdies on the day, but he felt otherwise as three of those were conceded; Boyns was just grateful to walk away with a win.

“Today I thought it was going to go the other way,” he said explaining that he had a terrible practice session prior to the round and a rough start bogeying the first two holes. “The first hole I snap-hooked my drive into the woods and then I blocked-slice my provisional into the driving range … I was lucky to find my first ball and halve the hole.”However, after a bogey-bogey start and not losing either hole, Boyns settled down and only bogeyed one hole (the 8th) the rest of the way to go along with four birdies and six pars.

The senior rookie has been playing stellar golf in his three matches as he has yet to trail a match. Additionally, he has only lost a total of three holes and has played a total of 43 holes. Boyns is happy to be playing in this event as he considered playing in the Amateur Match Play instead, only being two years removed of a finals loss to George Gandranata, but felt that “it was time turn the page.”

“It’s been really fun [playing in the Senior Match Play], there’s a good group of guys,” he said. “The camaraderie is there and everyone is rooting for one another.”

Jeff Burda

Burda, whose match ended about 45 minutes after the Boyns-Thompson match, had the much more entertaining match of the two. After Burda and his opponent, John Enright, halved the first two holes the subsequent 14 holes only saw one halve.  Making the turn with the match all square Burda won the 10th hole as Enright bogeyed hitting his drive left in the trees. Enright then squared the match on the 11th hole the third time he squared it after trailing, which turned out to be his last time doing so.  From there Burda won holes 12 and 13 with pars and then sank a 10-foot birdie on 14 to go 3-up. It looked as if the 15th hole would be halved as both players were about 30 feet away, but after Burda lagged his putt close for a par, Enright snaked his long downhill putt for birdie cutting the lead to 2-up. Momentum seemed to be going Enright’s way when on 16 he chipped his third shot four feet away, while Burda lied two in the greenside bunker. However, Burda hit his bunker shot and it rolled across the green finding the bottom of the cup to end the match.

“He made a great chip there and if I don’t get up-and-down from the bunker, he’s only 1-down going into 17, and at that point anything can happen,” said Burda of his fortuitous match ending shot.

Burda, who won this event in 2009 and had a runner-up finish in 2008, doesn’t believe he has any kind of advantage going into tomorrow’s final as he’s familiar with Boyns’ amateur career.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that he’s a legend in amateur golf in California,” said Burda. “I’ll have to play very well to beat him; I’ll have to not make any mistakes.”

If history is any indicator, tomorrow’s match should be a memorable one. Five years ago in the Inaugural Senior Match Play Championship it was similarly a #4 seed vs. #2 seed matchup, as Rob Thompson (the #2 seed) beat Carl Selkirk (#4 seed) in 19 holes. The following year roles were reversed as Rob Thompson, the #4 seed, beat the #2 seed, which happened to be Jeff Burda, 1-up. Last year’s winner, Dan Bieber, also won from the #4 seed position.

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August 17, 2011

by Spencer Sorensen

PEBBLE BEACH – After first and second rounds of the 5th Annual NCGA Senior Match Play Championship only four players remain for Thursday’s semifinals: Rob Thompson, Casey Boyns, John Enright and Jeff Burda. Thompson, the eighth seed, and Boyns, the fourth seed, will tee off at 8:00 a.m. Thursday with Enright, the sixth seed, and Burda, the second seed following them at 8:15 a.m.

All four quarterfinal matches, Wednesday, were well fought out as two went extra holes and another went 18 holes. The first quarterfinal match between senior points leader Jim Knoll and two-time winner Thompson went a thrilling 19 holes with Thompson closing out the match on the par-5 1st hole scoring a birdie to Knoll’s par. Knoll, who has never made it past the first day of this event despite three prior #3 seeds and this year’s #1 seed, once again seemed to be snake-bit as he lost to Thompson after having a 1-up lead going into the 17th hole. It was on that hole that Thompson hit his approach to six feet to birdie the hole and square the match. Early in the round Thompson got off to an incredible start as he birdied numbers two and three by chipping-in on both holes to take an early 2-up lead. Knoll fought back though and squared the match on number seven and took the lead on the 12th. From there the two halved 13 and 14 before the match was again squared on 15 before Knoll regained the lead on 16.

“When you play someone like Jimmy [Knoll] you think to yourself of not just getting embarrassed,” said Thompson. “He’s been playing the best golf of anybody here in Northern California this year, so I’m just grateful that I was able to win.”

Knoll, who was gracious in defeat, and kept the curse of the #1 seed alive (as no player has won the event being the overall seed) simply said “he just played better than me today.”

Thompson, who won back-to-back Senior Match Play Championships in 2007 and 2008, and had a runner-up finish last year, explained his penchant for this event saying, “just the adrenalin of being here on the Peninsula and the adrenalin of playing Jimmy Knoll is what got me through the day.”

His semifinal opponent will be senior rookie Casey Boyns, who was able to beat out defending champion Dan Bieber 3 and 2. Boyns, a decorated NCGA golfer, has yet to break through in an NCGA Senior event, but this could be his week to break that mold as two of the first four champions in this event, including last year’s (Bieber), were #4 seeds.

“That’s a good omen,” said Boyns when told that information. He also explained that it’s tough to win senior events when there are quality players such as Knoll and Burda. Through the first two rounds he has played the least amount of holes out of the remaining competitors (30 holes) as he didn’t play the 17th or 18th on Wednesday. Whether that’s an advantage or disadvantage will likely be seen over the next two rounds.

In the second semifinal match 2009 Senior Match Play Champion Jeff Burda will face Jon Enright. Burda’s play on Wednesday “was just okay” he explained as he struggled on the back nine with no birdies to hold off Herb Jensen in 18 holes. Burda further said that in his first match he played much better scoring five birdies in 15 holes.

Enright was the last player on the course Wednesday as his match with three-time Senior Player of the Year Mark Miller went 20 holes and finished at 7:10 p.m. On the 2nd hole at Spyglass, Enright hit his approach to 25 feet, while Miller left his approach shot short in the bunker with a fried-egg lie. Miller hit his ball out over the green and failed to get up-and-down for a bogey and subsequently conceded Enright’s four-foot par putt.

In the morning matches Knoll beat Gene Ackerman 5 and 4 in the first match off. He lost his first hole, but then got things going by winning four of the next six holes. In the #8-#9 (seed) matchup Thompson easily handled Rob Adolph 6 and 5. However, that match wasn’t the biggest margin of victory as Jensen beat Peter Moren 7 and 6. Miller cruised to a victory over Ray Kong 6 and 5 by winning the first three holes of the match. Burda won his morning match over Neil Duffy 5 and 3, while Boyns beat Ron Johnson 5 and 4 losing only one of the 14 holes he played. Bieber fought off Doug Johnson in 19 holes, after trailing the first 13 holes of his morning match and Enright beat David Baskins 2 and 1.

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Author: Alex Anderson

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