9th Annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship
Poppy Hills GC
July 13-15, 2012
July 15, 2012
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Going into Sunday’s final round all indications pointed to a win likely to come from a young up-and-coming NCGA player named Ben. El Macero resident Ben Corfee and Ben Geyer of Arbuckle separated themselves from the field after 36 holes as Corfee stood at 140 and Geyer stood at 141, with their nearest competitors at 144. After Sunday’s round was complete the odds turned out to be correct as the 20-year-old Geyer posted his third straight under-par score to win by four shots. A second consecutive day of 71 put him at a 54-hole score of 212, 4-under par, giving him the title of NCGA Stroke Play Champion.
Geyer captured the lead early in the round after his fellow-competitor Corfee double-bogeyed the first hole, while Geyer parred. Another bogey by Corfee on the par-3 second, gave Geyer a two-stroke cushion as he made par. By the end of nine holes the 20-year-old had a five-stroke advantage over Corfee and four strokes over the rest of the field as Geyer went out in 36, while Corfee struggled with a front-nine 42.
“My game plan definitely didn’t change [seeing Corfee struggle], I was just going to hit every shot as well as I could and try to make some putts,” said Geyer.
On the back nine Geyer continued to play steady as he made six total pars, two birdies and one bogey to post a final round red number. Despite winning by four strokes, Geyer really was I hoping he’d play better and run away with the win.
“It’s kind of bad [to say this], but I wanted to win shooting 66 or something, making sure no one else feel like they had any chance to win,” he said.
Finishing in second alone at 216 was Monterey’s Nick Moore, who shot the low round of the day with a 3-under par 69. Moore attributed his great play to ball-striking as he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and also his putting, at least on the back nine, where he fired a 5-under par 31. After birdieing the 10th hole, Moore made an eagle-3 on the 12th hole and followed that with a birdie on the par-4 13th. He then finished his round in style making a birdie on the par-5 18th.
“I was just happy with my game today,” said Moore. “I just went out and tried to keep the ball in the middle of the fairway and make some putts.”
Taking third place was Danny Paniccia of Clovis, who finished at a 54-hole total of 217, 1-over par, after posting a 1-under par 71. Paniccia played flawless the first 12 holes as he didn’t make any bogeys and converted three birdies on holes two, 10 and 12. However, he dropped a couple shots coming down the stretch with bogeys Nos. 13 and 15.
Rounding out the top five were six-time NCGA Player of the Year, Randy Haag, and defending champion Scott Hardy at 2-over par, 218. Both players started the day at 2-over par and finished there after each shot an even-par round of 72.
Hardy, the St. Mary’s College head golf coach, did get an apology from Geyer at the trophy ceremony, who is one of Hardy’s top players. The senior-to-be at St. Mary’s stated that while he was sorry he had to prevent his coach from defending his title, he was happy to keep the trophy in the St. Mary’s family.
What’s more, Geyer was relieved just to claim the victory. The past month the St. Mary’s senior-to-be has been playing some of his best ever golf, including runner-up finishes at the California State Amateur and the Sahalee Players Championship where he lost in a playoff.
“I was eager to get a win,” he said. “I texted my brother on the plane coming back from the U.S. Amateur Public Links, that I wanted to get a win, whether it’s the NCGA Stroke Play or the U.S. Amateur, I just want to get a win. So it feels good to get a win.”
July 14, 2012
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Ben Corfee is the 36-hole leader of the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills GC as he followed his 4-under 68 yesterday with an even-par 72 today. Unlike yesterday when the 18-year-old bogeyed his opening hole, Corfee made an eagle-3 on his opening hole, the par-5 10th. Hitting his drive down the center of the fairway, the El Macero resident had a little over 200 yards left and stuck his 4-iron shot to 10 feet away to set himself up for an eagle. After converting his eagle Corfee had thoughts creep into his head about possibly posting a low number, but after hitting his tee shot on the par-3 11th in the front bunker where he made bogey, he quickly put those thoughts to the side.
“I quickly leveled my head after that hole,” he said, explaining he’d go on to make six straight pars before a birdie on the par-5 18th. There Corfee had another great chance for eagle as he hit his approach shot to about four feet away, but this time he ended up missing his eagle putt. “My approach wasn’t a good shot, I got a little lucky, I toed it a bit and it landed on the hill and it rolled down towards the hole [location on the right side of the green],” he said.
Going out in 34, Corfee struggled a bit more on the front side as he made bogeys on holes one, two and nine, with his lone birdie coming on the eighth. Now holding the 36-hole lead, the incoming freshman at UC-Davis has the same game plan as he did going into today’s round when he held the 18-hole lead.
“I just can’t get ahead of myself, I’m going to take it one shot at a time and worry about the first hole,” said Corfee.
Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, who started the round two strokes back and alone in third, finds himself alone in second and only one shot behind Corfee. Geyer’s 1-under par 71 was only one of two scores that found the red in the morning wave, however, Geyer’s demeanor after the round conveyed a player who had shot well over par.
“I played stupid today,” said Geyer. “I was always behind the eight-ball.”
In particular the 20-year-old was upset about two things, bogeying his opening hole the par-5 10th when he hit his approach shot in the water and missing a two-footer during the round that he admittedly rushed hitting instead of marking. “You’re not going to win tournaments when you do stupid stuff like that,” he said.
However, despite the bad, Geyer was able to make two birdies on holes 12 and 18, and close out his round with an eagle-3 on the par-5 ninth. Additionally, he accounted for no missed fairways in his round and hit 16 greens in regulation. Geyer knows he’s in great position to win the tournament and hopes to continue his recent run of success going into tomorrow.
“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing [tomorrow], but not do anything stupid like getting greedy on par 5s,” he said.
Bobby Bucey of Concord and Michael Williams of Roseville are tied for third, having each posted a 36-hole total of 144. Bucey, who teed off in the morning followed his first round 71 with a 73 Saturday. The 23-year-old Bucey started on the back nine and made bogeys on 12 and 16 and a birdie on 17 to make the turn at 37. On the front side Bucey bogeyed the third hole, but finished strong with a birdie on the ninth.
Williams, started the day seven shots off the lead after opening with a 3-over par 75, but today nobody was better than Williams as he posted a 3-under par 69. The 43-year-old explained the biggest difference between his two rounds was that putts started dropping in for him today.
“Yesterday I hit it so well, but didn’t make a single birdie putt,” he said. “Today, I hit it pretty decent—the driver wasn’t as good as yesterday—but I finally made putts, I got the speed of greens down.”
Teeing off in the afternoon wave, Williams started off with a bogey on the first hole, but got things going with birdies on holes four, six and nine to make the turn at 34. After making another birdie on the 10th, Williams looked to take advantage of the par-5 12th, but hit it out of bounds right and ended up taking a bogey-6. However, the Roseville resident recovered nicely with a birdie on 14 before countering his bogey on 17 with a birdie on 18.
“Tomorrow, I just need to keep it in play and hopefully make some putts,” said Williams of his final round strategy.
In a four-way tie for fifth at 2-over par 146 are perennial NCGA contenders Randy Haag, Scott Hardy, Terry Foreman and Danny Paniccia. Haag, a six-time NCGA Player of the Year, who started off with a 3-under 69 yesterday, fell down the leaderboard after posting a 5-over par 77 Saturday. Defending champion Scott Hardy followed his even-par 72 with a 74 on Saturday as did Clovis resident Paniccia. Terry Foreman is representing the seniors well as the 55-year-old followed his 74 from Friday with an even-par 72 today.
In total, Saturday’s course setup yielded six under par scores, two in the morning and four in the afternoon. Besides Geyer and Williams, the other four players to manage under-par rounds were Nick Moore, Jordan Everson, Cameron Rappleye and Andy Nevin. Monterey’s Moore the other under-par morning score—who happened to be paired with Geyer—posted a 1-under 71 giving him a 36-hole of 147. Everson and Rappleye also shot 1-under 71s, which in their case was vital. Both players posted an 81 on Friday and with their exceptional play on Saturday, the two players made the cut on the number at 152. Nevin, on the other hand, missed the cut by one stroke as his 1-under par 71 wasn’t good enough to overcome his 82 from Friday.
As mentioned above, the 36-hole cut came at 152, one-stroke higher than 2011 as 43 players posted 36-hole scores of 8-over par or better. Tomorrow play will begin at 7:30 a.m. with all players going off the first tee.
July 13, 2012
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Ben Corfee, only 18-years-old, leads after the first round of the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship after posting a 4-under 68, Friday afternoon. His day didn’t start as he would have liked as he bogeyed the par-4 first hole, but birdies on holes three and eight got Corfee to make the turn at 1-under par. After taking a bogey on the par-3 11th, Corfee played the last eight holes 4-under par making an eagle on the par-4 14th and birdies on 12 and 18. On the 14th hole after hitting a solid drive that left him a little less than 110 yards out, Corfee holed out from the fairway with his 54 degree wedge.
“I knew if I hit greens today that I would have a chance to shoot a good round, and I hit a bunch of them today,” said Corfee.
The incoming freshman at UC-Davis knows not to get ahead of himself as he goes into tomorrow’s round with the lead. His game plan is to just worry about one shot at a time. As he explained after his round the only thing he’s worrying about is that opening tee shot. “I just need to hit the first fairway and go from there,” he said.
Six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag held the 18-hole lead briefly as he was the first group out in the afternoon wave at 12:30 p.m. and turned in a 3-under par 69. Haag’s round included four birdies and one bogey and was nearly flawless as he went 17 holes without a bogey before taking a bogey-6 on the par-5 ninth hole. Starting off the 10th tee, Haag got off to a quick start making birdies on 12, 13 and 17 to make the turn at 33. Another birdie on the par-3 second hole got him to 4-under par before a string of six pars and his lone bogey.
Sitting only two strokes back and alone in third is Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, who posted a 2-under par 70, also in the afternoon. Geyer, who just recently played some amazing golf at the California State Amateur two weeks ago, got off to a real fast start to his day birdieing four of his first seven holes before a couple bad mistakes. On the eighth hole with only 110 yards to the flag from the middle of the fairway, Geyer took a double-bogey-6, while similarly on the 14th with 120 yards to the flag from the middle of the fairway he took a bogey-5.
“I’m playing real good right now, but I left a few shots out there,” said Geyer. “[My score] should have been a lot lower today.”
In a three-way tie for fourth place at 1-under par 71 is Justin Estrada, Neil Summers and Bobby Bucey. Estrada got hot in the middle of his round as he birdied holes seven, 10, 13 and 14 to go along with his bogeys on holes three, five and 15. Summers, who started off the 10th tee exchanged bogeys for birdies on the even-numbered holes of the back-nine, taking bogeys on 12 and 16 and birdies on 14 and 18. He then ran off eight straight pars before closing with a birdie on the ninth. Bucey made five birdies in his round on holes three, eight, 12, 14 and 17 along with four bogeys on the seventh, 11th, 13th and 15th.
Defending champion Scott Hardy posted an even-par 72 to find himself in a tie for seventh place. The St. Mary’s head golf coach feels pretty good about where he’s at considering he hasn’t played an 18-hole round of golf since the final round of NCGA Four-Ball Championship over two months ago.
“Anytime you have an afternoon round here [at Poppy Hills], anything par or better is a good score,” said Hardy.
The two players who join Hardy at even-par 72 are Kyle Gentry and Danny Paniccia. Gentry made four birdies and an eagle on the day, which were countered by four bogeys and a double bogey. Paniccia’s round consisted of three bogeys and a double bogey to go along with five birdies. The two players co-led with their even-par total after the morning wave as not nearly as many good scores were posted during that stretch. In the morning only 41 of the 72 players were able to break 80 and none broke par. The afternoon proved to be much different as six players found red numbers.
Tomorrow, the waves will be reversed with the players who played this afternoon playing in the Saturday morning wave, while the players who played Friday morning will tee it up Saturday afternoon. At the conclusion of Saturday’s round a cut will be made for the low 40 ties to come back and compete on Sunday. With 18 holes in the books, the projected 36-hole cut looks to be 152. The cut in 2011 for the championship fell at 151.
NCGA Stroke Play Championship Preview
July 12, 2012
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Tomorrow many of Northern California’s best amateur players will flock to the Monterey Peninsula to play in the 9th Annual NCGA Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills GC. As usual this year’s field looks to be very strong and competitive. Two-time winner Scott Hardy looks to defend his 2011 title as he tees off No. 10 at 12:50 p.m. in the afternoon wave. After a stellar 2011, when Hardy won two major NCGA championships and was runner-up in a third—finishing third on 2011 the points list—Hardy has been almost nonexistent this year as he currently resides 139th on the points list. Unable to defend his NCGA Public Links title in April, Hardy is likely chomping at the bit to defend this one and become a three-time winner.
Also in the field are all three players who finished as runner-ups at last year’s event. Eric Ash of Loomis will tee off on the first hole at 7:40 a.m., while Grant Rappleye will tee off the 10th at 8:10 a.m. Four-time NCGA player of the year, Casey Boyns is the third of last year’s runner-ups and the 2007 champion of this event. He will tee off No. 10 at 12:40 p.m. in a group which features fellow seniors Terry Foreman and Jim Knoll, the 2011 Senior Player of the Year and current senior points leader. Knoll is less than four weeks removed from his NCGA Master Division title, which held its final round here and at the time he knew this week would present a challenge.
“I’m not sure I can be competitive from the back tees with these young kids, but I’ll give it a shot that’s for doggone sure,” said Knoll.
Preceding the highlighted groups off of No. 10 at 12:50 and 12:40 is the 12:30 p.m. group which features six-time NCGA Player of the Year and current points leader Randy Haag. Others to be aware of include California State Amateur runner-up Ben Geyer (1:10 p.m., No. 10), California State Amateur quarterfinalist Cameron Rappleye (8:20 a.m., No. 1), current Valley Amateur champion Logan Goulding (2:00 p.m., No. 10) and half of this year’s four-ball winning team Russell Humphrey (8:10 a.m., No. 10).
The first two rounds of pairings (Friday and Saturday) are set with morning play starting at 7:30 a.m. and afternoon play starting at 12:30 p.m. off of No. 1 and No. 10. At the conclusion of Saturday’s round the field will be cut to the low 40 and ties.