108th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship
August 15-19, 2011
Spyglass Hill GC
August 19, 2011
PEBBLE BEACH – If this keeps up, NCGA Amateur champion John Catlin might never change his shirt.
Catlin captured his second NCGA Amateur title in as many years at Spyglass Hill, propelled by a sublime putting performance that upended Michael Weaver 5 and 3. The champion intentionally wore the same shirt as a year ago, when he defeated Scott Hardy 3 and 2.
The 21-year-old rising junior at New Mexico carded a morning round of 67 to take a 2-up lead over Weaver, and also finished the afternoon 5-under. All told, the North Ridge member produced 13 birdies on the day against two bogeys. Catlin’s back-to-back wins are the first since ’92-’93 when Randy Haag accomplished the feat. It is the 10th time in the 108-year history of the tournament.
“I just love this course,” the champion said. “I feel so calm and confident out here. When you’ve got that and your swing’s on, you’ll be hard to beat.”
Indeed, Catlin missed only one putt of any significance on the day, producing his lone bogey on the afternoon 18, on #10. But the miss seemed to refocus Catlin. His second shot into the 11th hole, a par 5, produced an eagle putt of 10 feet that he just missed and his tee shot on the 12th missed going in by inches. (Ironically, an ace on the 12th was worth $50,000 in the NCGA Foundation Pro-Am going on at the same time as the finals.) “When they told me I wasn’t eligible, then I hit it to a few inches,” Catlin joked. “Coming in I was putting well. But now I feel I now these greens well. When you’ve got that confidence, the hole looks massive.
Despite the final margin, the match was one of the finest played in recent memory with Weaver finishing the day at four under, with nine birdies in the losing effort. There were a total of 21 birdies between the two players, who both carried their own bags most of the week, and five holes were halved with birdies.
Catlin drew first blood on the match with a birdie on Spyglass’ treacherous fourth hole, holing a 15-footer for birdie what was a harbinger of things to come. The 2011 Memorial Amateur and Sacramento County champion then produced wins on the next two holes to build a 3-up lead. More spectacular putting followed, including a 20-footer on the ninth and 25-footer on #13. A Weaver birdie on the final hole of the morning 18 brought the match to 2-up.
The afternoon round followed the same course as the morning, with the champion walking off the ninth hole with a 4-up lead after posting a nine-hole split of 33. Any chance of a comeback was squashed on the 14th hole. Catlin missed the green and blew his bunker shot by the green to the fringe on the other side. He then holed a 20-footer from off the green to match Weaver’s par to go dormie. “That’s just cold-blooded,” one spectator remarked at the result.
“It’s hard to beat someone that putts that well,” Weaver said. “I can’t be disappointed. I just didn’t putt as well as him.” Weaver, a Fresno resident, is a rising junior at Cal who will redshirt next season while he changes his major. After an eighth-place finish at the NCAA national championship last spring, look for big things to come from the 20 –year-old. He next heads to Wisconsin for the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills next week.
Catlin dominated the week. After securing the sixth seed, the champion rolled through match play, never playing the 18th hole and only playing 16 and 17 one time, in a round of 16 win against Jeff Gilchrist. Spyglass Hill and the Amateur clearly provide inspiration, perhaps best symbolized by Catlin’s lucky shirt.
“It’s pretty special,” he said regarding the white, striped top. “But I‘ll still wash it.”
Finals Photo Gallery
Live Finals Blog
Hole 1 – Both players hit green and two-putt. All square
Hole 2 – Catlin misses green and gets up and down. Weaver pars. All square
Hole 3 – Both players hit green and two-putt. All square
Hole 4 – Catlin makes a 15-footer for birdie. Catlin 1-up
Hole 5 – Catlin hits beautiful tee shot to three feet. Weaver misses green. Consecutive birdies for Catlin. 2-up
Hole 6 – Weaver in fairway bunker. Makes double bogey. Catlin 3-up
Hole 7 – Weaver makes his first birdie of the day. Catlin 2-up
Hole 8 – Weaver hits great approach to two feet, birdie. Catlin 1-up
Hole 9 – Catlin holes 20-footer for birdie. Weaver answers with 18-footer. Catlin 1-up
Hole 10 – Weaver in greenside bunker, makes bogey. Catlin 2-up
Hole 11 – Weaver makes birdie with nice chip and putt. Catlin 1-up
Hole 12 – Weaver makes nice save. Catlin pars. Catlin 1-up.
Hole 13 – Catlin makes 25-footer for birdie. Catlin 2-up
Hole 14 – Catlin makes birdie getting up and down. Catlin 3-up
Hole 15 – Both players par after hitting green and two putting. Catlin 3-up
Hole 16 – Both players hit green and two-putt. Catlin 3-up
Hole 17 – Both players hit great approach shots and make birdie. Catlin 3-up
Hole 18 – Both again make nice approach shots. Weaver converts. Catlin 2-up at the break.
Hole 19 – Catlin makes 18-footer for birdie. Weaver converts on an up and down for birdie. Carlin 2-up
Hole 20 – Weaver hits green and two putts. Catlin gets up and down. Catlin 2-up
Hole 21 – Two excellent lag putts from both players to make par. Catlin 2-up
Hole 22 – Both players continue to put on an approach shot clinic. Catlin converts for birdie again. Weaver just misses. Catlin 3-up
Hole 23 – Catlin again makes great putt to save par and halve the hole. Catlin 3-up
Hole 24 – Weaver stubs chip but makes great par save. Catlin again makes pressure putt to save par. Catlin 3-up
Hole 25 – Weaver gets up and down for birdie. Catlin reaches green and two-putts for birdie. Catlin 3-up
Hole 26 – Weaver misses green and makes first bogey by either player of the afternoon. Catlin 4-up
Hole 27 – Catlin again makes tough 5-footer to save par. Weaver also pars. Catlin 4-up
Hole 28 – Catlin misses green. Misses first putt of any significance on the day. First bogey on the afternoon. Catlin 3-up
Hole 29 – Catlin reaches green in two and makes birdie. Catlin 4-up
Hole 30 – Catlin almost makes an ace. Weaver answers with his own birdie. Catlin 4-up
Hole 31 – Both players hit green and two putt. Catlin 4-up
Hole 32 – Catlin misses green and blows bunker shot by green to the other side. He then holes 20-footer from off the green to match Weaver’s par. Catlin dormie 4
Hole 33 – Catlin hits to six feet. Wins match 5 and 3.
Quarterfinals and Semifinals
August 18, 2011
PEBBLE BEACH – Michael Weaver will face defending champion John Catlin in the finals of the 108th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship Friday at Spyglass Hill.
Weaver defeated NCGA stalwart Randy Haag in the semifinals 2-up, establishing an early lead via deft putting he never relinquished. The rising junior at Cal finished 8th individually at the NCAA national championship in Oklahoma earlier this year and has had the kind of week with the putter that resembles the performance Tiger Woods put on at Pebble Beach in 2000. After 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying and four rounds of match play, the 20-year-old has yet to three-putt a green.
After Weaver built a 4-up lead through 11th hole, Haag made it interesting via birdies on the 15th and 17thholes, cutting the lead to 1-up. But Weaver slammed the door on the match with a brilliant approach on the final hole to three feet for birdie. “I knew Randy’s a great player and wasn’t going to quit,” Weaver said. “I knew I was going to have to play well to win so it’s very satisfying to make the finals.”
Weaver beat medalist Kevin Wentworth of Diablo Grande in the quarterfinals, coming back from an early 2-down deficit. The match was all square when Weaver birdied the 14th hole. Another birdie on 17 secured the 2-and-1 win.
Weaver feels his game is right where it needs to be heading into the finals Friday. “I’ve struggled with match play before, but not this week,” he said.
Haag earlier took out rising Sacramento State senior Cameron Rappleye in a quarterfinal match the 52-year-old took control of early. The Olympic Club member established a 2-up lead after two holes, and cruised to a 3-and-2 win. Not enough can be said about the five-time NCGA Player of the Year’s continued success at an age when most players are preparing for senior competition. He estimates he last played someone older than him in match play 15 years ago, and with the semifinals performance this week, appears to have a sixth Player of the Year award all but locked up. Haag heads to Milwaukee and Erin Hills GC for the U.S. Amateur next week.
Catlin earned a second trip to the finals by jumping out to an early 3-up lead over Los Altos’ Spencer Fletcher and then slowly building toward a 4-and-3 conclusion. The match had a back-and-forth beginning, with the first halved hole coming on Spyglass’ 7th. Catlin then won 8th and 9thholes to establish the four-hole margin the match would finish with.
“This week I’ve been really on,” Catlin said. “I’m really putting well. That’s propelled me to some strong starts.”
The North Ridge member has won three of his four matches by big margins, and is primed for a chance to become the first repeat champion since Haag claimed the ’92 and ’93 championships (Catlin defeated St. Mary’s Golf Coach Scott Hardy in the final last year 3 and 2). “I felt good about my game coming into the week. I knew if I could make match play I could do it (repeat),” the 20-year-old rising junior at New Mexico said.
Catlin dominated his quarterfinal match, eliminating eClub San Francisco Bay’s Matt Cohn 5 and 4 on the strength of five birdies.
Fletcher defeated Anthony Barrera of the Ranch GC in his morning match. Fletcher was 1-down at the turn, but birdied the 10th and 11thholes to take the lead. The 21-year-old rising senior at Arizona State also heads to Erin Hills next week for the U.S. Amateur.
Semifinals Photo Gallery
Wednesday Match Play
August 17, 2011
PEBBLE BEACH – Eight players booked tickets to the quarterfinals of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Thursday at Spyglass Hill.
Medalist and #1 seed Kevin Wentworth staved off the so-called “medalist jinx” with two close wins Wednesday. In the round of 16, the 27-year-old pulled off a brilliant approach to four feet and made the subsequent birdie on the final hole to hold off U.S. Amateur-bound Matt Pinizzotto 1-up. The match had started with an early 3-up advantage for Wentworth, but turned into a topsy-turvy contest in which the competitors traded 1-up leads before the final hole. Wentworth had already taken out #32-seeded Taylor Travis in the morning match 1-up. Travis was fresh off a runner-up performance in the Pacific Coast Amateur at Martis Camp two weeks ago. “I’m tired,” Wentworth said after two matches that went all 18 holes. “Once you lose momentum, it’s hard to get it back.” The Diablo Grande member has now duplicated his best finish in this event; he made the quarterfinals last year as well.
Wentworth faces 2009 NCGA Junior champion Michael Weaver in the quarterfinals. Weaver defeated pre-tournament favorite Scott Hardy 2 and 1 in the morning and upended Danny Paniccia 4 and 2 in the round of 16, putting on a dominating putting display. For the week, the rising junior at Cal has yet to three-putt Spyglass’ notoriously treacherous greens. “I’m really putting well inside 10 feet,” he said modestly. “My speed has been good.”
Two-time champion Randy Haag is playing in the final eight for perhaps the 15thtime in his storied career after defeating 2009 State Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez 3 and 1. The 52-year-old’s record of longevity is almost unprecedented. Often playing against college players less than half his age, the five-time NCGA player of the year continues to rack up honors. “You have find a way to get the job done,” the Olympic Club member said. “I have enough confidence that at some point I know I’ll get some momentum going if things aren’t going well.” By securing a spot in the quarterfinals, Haag continues to meet a challenge he set for himself as the year began: making the top ten in every NCGA point event he enters.
Haag will face Cameron Rappleye, who earned a spot in the quarterfinals with a dominating 6-and-4 win over Wes Sandroni. The rising senior at Sacramento State nearly missed the cut for match play, qualifying on the cut number after posting a torrid five-under 31 on his back nine Tuesday. “If I wasn’t going to make the cut, I wanted to at least create some good vibes,” the Roseville City champion said. Those vibes were better than good – he’s been on a roll through the back nine yesterday and both matches Wednesday. Rappleye, who made it to the round of 16 at the State Amateur in June, took out Andrew Biggadike in the morning round, 2 and 1.
Spencer Fletcher of Los Altos defeated 15-year-old Sebastian Crampton 5 and 4. Fletcher, a rising senior at Arizona State, earlier defeated Matt Covan of eClub South Bay. Fletcher will face Anthony Barrera of the Ranch GC. Barrera defeated Belmont’s Bryson Dechambeau in the morning and upset #2-seeded Scott Travers 1-up in the afternoon.
Matt Cohn of eClub San Francisco Bay upset the #3-seeded Cory McElyea of DeLaveaga 5 and 4 after earlier beating Nick Moore of Bayonet/Blackhorse 3 and 2. Cohn will face defending champion John Catlin of North Ridge CC, who blew out Ryan Thomas of Diablo 6 and 5 in the morning match and defeated Jeff Gilchrist 2 and 1 in the round of 16. The rising junior at New Mexico is pleased with his play thus far. “My game is in good shape,” he said.
Wednesday Match Play Photo Gallery
August 16, 2011
PEBBLE BEACH – Kevin Wentworth claimed medalist honors in the 108th playing of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill.
The 27-year-old Diablo Grande member posted two sub-par rounds (68-71) in carding the best score by a commanding four strokes – he was the only player in the field under par both rounds. The Cal State Hayward alum is a self-described late bloomer, but is enjoying a good season in 2011. The Arnold resident made a run to the finals of the California State Amateur in June, made it through U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Ruby Hill and captured the Monterey County Four-Ball.
Scott Travers carded the best round of the second day, a three-under 68, in earning the #2 seed. The 2010 State Amateur and SCGA Amateur champion is an Association member of the NCGA, and attributed his seven-shot improvement from the first day to a late Monday practice session. “I found something in my putting after my round yesterday,” the Santa Clara alum and 2010 WCC Player of the Year said. “And I really rolled it well today.” Travers is looking to improve on his 2010 performance in this same event; the Trabuco Canyon native made it to the quarterfinals before getting upended by eventual champion John Catlin.
Two junior golfers played their way into the final 32 – Bryson Dechambeau of Belmont CC, the Junior Tour of Northern California’s leading playing in 2011, and 15-year-old Sebastian Crampton of YOC Monterey Bay.
Matt Pinizzotto, a recent high school graduate, made the match-play field on the strength of his performance on Spyglass’ 11th hole. The Corral de Tierra member double-eagled the par 5 in the first round Monday, and eagled it during Tuesday’s second round.
Defending champion Catlin of North Ridge CC earned a chance to repeat his win, posting an even-par 144. The New Mexico golfer has the steady game that’s a tough out in match play. Last year’s runner-up, Scott Hardy, earned another try at one of the only NCGA titles to elude him. The St. Mary’s golf coach has already posted wins in the NCGA Public Links and Stroke Play in 2011.
First-round leader Andrew Biggadike was unable to duplicate his hot 67 opening. The NCGA tournament official struggled to a 77 Tuesday for an even-par 144 total.
Five-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag qualified for match play for the 30th time in his storied career. The two-time winner of this event (’92-’93) is well aware of what lies ahead. “This is a marathon,” the Olympic Club member said. “It’s one shot at a time. There’s no hiding from the physical demands of match play events. When your legs get tired, golf gets tough. But it’s been too long since I’ve won this.”
Indeed, the 32-player field faces two rounds of match play Wednesday, the quarter and semifinals on Thursday and the scheduled 36-hole final on Friday. The long grind of the week is the primary reason it’s been 10 years since the last mid-amateur won the title.
The cut came at six-over 150, the same number as 2010. After a first round that saw 20 players shoot par or better, Tuesday’s fog, typical for Spyglass, brought the field’s scoring back to the norm. Surprisingly, there was no playoff for the final spots, an anomaly in match-play events.