California State Amateur Preview
June 22, 2012
The culmination of California’s amateur golf season is finally here. The 101st California State Amateur begins this coming Monday June 25 at La Cumbre CC in Santa Barbara and as usual a very strong field of players will be competing to have their name engraved on the Edward B. Tufts trophy. Here are some noteworthy storylines going into this year’s event.
In total, six former champions are in the field including last year’s champion Bhavik Patel, who hopes to become the first back-to-back champion in 57 years. Other former champions include Ed Cuff (1998), Darryl Donovan (2001), Don DuBois (2005), Tim Hogarth (1999) and Steve Woods (1994).
Southern California Dominance
In recent years a Southern California player has been the last one standing as six of the last seven champions have been SCGA members. The last NCGA member to win was Geoff Gonzalez in 2009 at Lake Merced GC.
While an SCGA member has been earning the title of California State Amateur champion, NCGA members have been coming up just short. Last year, Arnold resident Kevin Wentworth lost in the final and in 2008 Austin Roberts of Carmichael lost in the final. That’s not to mention Fairfield’s Jeff Wilson losing to Gonzalez in the 2009 final.
College players have a stronghold in the championship recently as the past six champions have either been incoming, current or outgoing collegiate players: Patel – 2011 (Fresno State), Scott Travers – 2010 (Santa Clara), Gonzalez – 2009 (Cal-Poly), Nick Delio – 2008 (Cal State Northridge), Josh Anderson – 2007 (Pepperdine) and Jordan Nasser – 2006 (USC).
CGA Challenge Cup
During the first two days of competition the NCGA and SCGA will compete for the Roger Lapham Challenge Cup competitors. Six pre-selected players from the NCGA and six from the SCGA will be involved in the competition, where the five best scores of six players from each team are counted to the team’s total score. In 2011, the NCGA gained possession of the cup for the first time since 2008 by beating the SCGA 724 to 736. In the 15 year history of the cup the SCGA leads the series with nine wins compared to the NCGA’s six.
The Challenge Cup competitors will tee off Monday in the morning wave between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. off the 10th tee. On Tuesday they will tee off the first hole in the afternoon wave between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m. The NCGA team members include Ben Geyer, Randy Haag, Scott Hardy, Pace Johnson, Sam Smith and Michael Weaver. The SCGA’s team consists of Max Homa, Jacob Knapp, Kevin Marsh, Bhavik Patel, Jack Perry and Manav Shah.
Mission Viejo’s Beau Hossler was to make his California State Amateur debut this week, but got a last second exemption to play in the PGA Tour’s AT&T National and withdrew. The 17 year-old captured the golf world’s attention when he briefly led the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club on Friday and finished tied for 29th place overall.
One intriguing pairing is that of three of the last four CIF champions playing together. Austin Smotherman, the 2012 CIF champion, will tee off with 2011 CIF champion Xander Schauffele and 2009 CIF champion Kevin Dougherty.
The youngest pairing in the championship with the combined age of 52 features La Jolla’s Ben Doyle (16), Atherton’s Jonathan Garrick (18) and Bryson DeChambeau (18) of Clovis.
Of the 156 players in the field, only 65 are NCGA members, roughly 41 percent.
The Short and Long of it
The player in the field with the least amount of characters in his name (including spaces) is Sam Yi of Northridge (6), while the player with most is Jonathan de los Reyes of Antioch (21).