6th Annual NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship
Poppy Hills GC/Spyglass Hill GC
August 13-17, 2012
August 17, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH – Since 1977, the 12th hole at Spyglass Hill has been special for Terry Foreman, winner of the 6th Annual NCGA Senior Match Play Championship.
More than three decades ago, the 160-yard par 3 became his mother’s favorite as she made her first visit to Spyglass when Foreman won the NCGA Public Links Championship as a 20-year-old. Last year when Dena passed away, he spread her ashes on the tee. And now in his first year competing as a senior, the 12th is where he took the lead for good in his championship match with Gary Vanier.
“Every match I had, on the walk to that tee, I’d get a little emotional and think something good is going to happen on that hole,” Foreman said, eyes glistening. “And it never did. I always hit it on the side of the hill, and I’m going ‘Mom, what are you doing?’”
Today was no different. The Antioch native hit his tee shot to the side of the hill on the right side of the green and chipped it to within five feet while Vanier found the water hazard left and conceded Foreman’s par putt. After a back-and-forth battle through rough and tumble conditions to start the match, Foreman took his second lead of the day and never looked back.
On the 514-yard par-5 14th, Foreman’s confidence was soaring as he striped his drive deep down the fairway. Going the route of safety, the champion played his second shot safe and well shy of the right side water. Vanier again found himself in the drink and conceded the hole to go down by two.
Foreman was still 2 up on the 16th and in good position to finish the match after another solid drive. His opponent was left of the fairway with a multitude of trees and a trio of deer to contend with.
“I knew if I just hit the green, I won,” Foreman said. “I was trying to hit a little slinger in there and just left it out.”
His miscue on the approach left the door open for Vanier to regain a hole and continue the match after The Olympic Club member placed his third shot on the green with a chance to par. Instead, Vanier’s steady putter missed its mark and the hole was halved heading to No. 17.
“I knew Gary was going to do something good on 17,” Foreman said. “I had to make birdie, because I didn’t want to go to 18 again. I didn’t. Or we would have gone 19, actually.”
Foreman’s long birdie try from left of the hole found the bottom of the cup and the match was over 3 and 1. As his jubilation at his first NCGA victory since the 2006 Master Division Four-Ball Championship turned to reflection in his latest golf accomplishment, Foreman’s mind went back to No. 12.
“Maybe my mom never wanted me to hit that green,” Foreman said as he stared at his champion’s medal in a state of disbelief.
Ironically, today’s par at No. 12 was his first of the week.
August 16, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH – Throughout Gary Vanier’s run through the 6th Annual NCGA Senior Match Play Championship, being the leader has become almost a given. Through 72 holes and four rounds played, Vanier has only trailed on three holes and that was in the Round of 16. Since that time he’s been in control of every match, and Thursday at Spyglass Hill was no different.
He took a 1-up lead with a par on the first hole of the semifinal match with Scott Anderson and stretched it to 3 up by the fourth. Anderson battled to win the next two holes to trim the differential to one where it stayed through the turn. For Anderson, who found himself down by two through 10, he let an opportunity to capitalize on a rare Vanier mistake slip by on the 491-yard par-5 11th hole.
“[Anderson] knocked it onto the edge of the green on No. 11 in two and I’m in the bunker,” Vanier recalled. “I barely get it on, but he hits his chip by and misses a putt. That’s a big turning point. He gets that up and down and I’m only 1 up versus up two and I think it probably carried over on him on the next tee. After that I played steady.”
The lead for the Pleasant Hill native ballooned to 4 up through 14 after Vanier made birdie. On the 15th, the hole was halved and Vanier advanced with a 4-and-3 win. His plan for tomorrow is to maintain his consistent play from tee to green.
“I just need to try to hit it in play,” Vanier said of his strategy. “This is the kind of golf course where you don’t want to be flag hunting out here. You just want to hit good shots and try not to do the spectacular because it will bite you if you try to do that.”
He will be facing off with a newcomer to the senior event schedule in Terry Foreman, competing at this level in his first season. Foreman, the 11th seed, unseated the defending champion Casey Boyns in his semifinal match. Similar to his finals opponent, Foreman has only trailed for four holes of match play, all of which came in the semifinals.
The day started with Boyns taking a 1-up lead after a birdie at the third hole, a 146-yard par 3. After exchanging holes for the remainder of the front nine, Foreman squared the match on the ninth hole with a birdie.
The Antioch native continued his momentum past the turn and gained a 2-up advantage on the 11th where Boyns faltered with a bogey and Foreman responded with a birdie. Boyns wasn’t done battling, however, and he squared the match for the sixth time on the 13th hole. Foreman gained a 1-up advantage with another birdie, his fourth of the day, on the 14th and he never relinquished the lead again. Though Boyns had opportunities to even the match on the last three holes, Foreman was unfaltering and went on to win 1 up but not without some tense moments on the 18th green.
“I had a perfect lie yesterday [on 18] and hit it heavy,” Foreman reflected on his extra-hole quarterfinal match with Michael Brannan. “Today my ball was in the front of the divot. I took less club because I figured I was going to trap it and I did exactly that but it went definitely too far. I was dreading going to 19 again.”
Boyns had a long putt attempt to win the hole and set the match to all square a la Brannan, but Foreman was determined to close the contest on the 18th. His smooth up and down after a stellar chip and putt gave Foreman the 1-up win to advance to face Vanier.
“I kept telling myself to stay patient, keep the rhythm and don’t get quick with it, and that’s all I’m going to think about tomorrow,” Foreman said.
Vanier and Foreman meet in the championship match Friday at Spyglass Hill, starting at 7:15 a.m.
August 15, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH – Defending champion Casey Boyns looks poised to repeat after advancing to the semifinals of the 6th Annual NCGA Senior Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill.
Boyns disposed of Doug Johnson 4 and 3 in Wednesday’s afternoon match after racing to a commanding 5 up lead after the first five holes of the competition. Johnson, playing through pain for the duration of the round, got a boost of body and spirit at the sixth green when he chipped in from the greenside bunker.
“The highlight of my round is I didn’t want to get beat 9 and 8,” Johnson quipped after the round. “And when I chipped in on the sixth hole I knew I’d make it to 10. Pure guts and Swedish stupidity.”
Johnson battled to get the match to 3 up, but a birdie by Boyns on the 15th sealed the 4-and-3 win. He earned his way to the quarterfinals after taking down Bob Rowland 4 and 2 in the morning match. Boyns has not trailed at any time during the event, and has not had to see the 17th or 18th holes in any match.
Boyns semifinal opponent needed extra holes to earn his way to the match. Michael Brannan fell behind after his opponent Terry Foreman gained two holes after a birdie on No. 4 was followed by a par to win the fifth hole. It stayed that way until the 16th when Brannan got a hole back. And on the 18th, Brannan capitalized on an errant approach shot by Foreman to roll in a 25-foot downhill breaking putt to birdie and set the match at all square. On the 19th hole both players had nearly identical paths to the green, but this time it was Foreman’s putter that made the difference as he drained his attempt at par after Brannan’s fell just short.
In the morning match, Foreman also gained an early lead over Herb Jensen with a par on the fourth hole and he went on to win 2 and 1.
In the top side of the bracket, Scott Anderson took down the No. 1 seed Jim Knoll, again leaving Knoll with the dubious distinction of never advancing past the quarterfinal round in this event. Anderson started out strong in his afternoon match to find himself 4 up through eight after two straight bogeys from Knoll. Anderson went on to win 2 and 1 and is soaring with confidence after two top-notch matches on Wednesday.
“My Spyglass caddy did everything for me. He sees breaks that I don’t see. His reads on the greens and his enthusiasm made the difference today,” Anderson said. “I was hitting the hole all day and nothing was going in. If my putting comes back, I’ve got huge confidence. But winning today was huge, that’s the boost I needed.”
In the morning match, Anderson found himself in a battle with Rob Adolph. Adolph took the early lead on the second hole, but Anderson scrapped to his own 1 up lead by the sixth hole. However, Adolph used a par on the 13th to square the match before Anderson finished the match with a 2-and-1 win.
Anderson will face a “fortunate” Gary Vanier in the semifinals. Though Vanier led his match with Dan Bieber from the outset, it was all square at the turn. After a steady back nine to regain his lead, a par on the 15th gave Vanier a 3-up advantage in the match which he went on to win 3 and 2.
In the morning Round of 16, Vanier also started the day with the lead over opponent Tom Marks. However, the lead turned tenuous on the back nine when Marks went 1 up after a par on the 13th. It took Vanier all the way to the final roll to walk into the quarterfinals with a 1 up victory.
“I was sort of fortunate to win this morning and then I played good in the afternoon,” Vanier said of his day. “It was really just survival today, that’s all this is. Survive and advance.”
The two semifinal matches are slated to begin at 8 a.m., Thursday at Spyglass Hill.
August 14, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH – No. 1 seed Jim Knoll continued his torrent of success in 2012 by advancing to the round of 16 in the 6th Annual Senior Match Play Championship after besting Michael Harding 4 and 2 at Poppy Hills.
Knoll got his first advantage after a birdie on the sixth hole before finding himself 4 up by the 11th after winning back-to-back holes with a par on No. 8 followed by an eagle on the ninth. But his turning point came much earlier in the round. After a shaky start, the top seed found himself losing ground to his opponent in the early goings.
“I chipped in for a birdie on the third hole,” Knoll said. “I was not playing very well at the time and was about to go down two. I chipped in from a spot below the green and it was really unexpected.”
He is joined in the Round of 16 by 13 higher seeds after three upsets were posted on the day. Seventh-seeded Peter Moren fell to James Duncan, the 26th seed. The match was all square through five when Moren rattled off pars on four of his next five holes to go 4 up. Duncan battled back with birdies on the 12th and 13th and squared the match with a par on the 402-yard 16th hole. The match stayed even through 18 when Duncan took his one and only lead of the day on the 19th, earning his way into the Round of 16 as the lowest seed to advance.
It also took super senior Bob Rowland an extra hole to finish off 15th-seeded Ken Noonan. Rowland took the lead from the start after birdieing No. 1 but he could never move the match past 1 up. Noonan earned his only advantage of the day after a birdie the 17th hole. Rowland maintained his composure by squaring the match on the 18th and rolled in a par on No. 19 to earn the victory.
The third upset of the day came as Tom Lyons, the 17th seed and top qualifier, downed David Baskins 3 and 2. The back and forth battle turned in favor of Lyons on the 13th hole as he squared the match with a double-bogey 6 on the 371-yard par 4.
“All day long Baskins was making putts to halve holes and it’s so difficult to do that,” Lyons said of his match. “But on 13 he three putted, and that was what I needed.”
Lyons rolled in three consecutive pars as Baskins could only muster bogeys to finish the match on the 16th green. After an eagle during the qualifying round, No. 13 has been good to Lyons in his two rounds at Poppy Hills.
“I popped up my drive, and I had 180 yards in so I hit a rescue club,” Lyons recounted yesterday’s feat. “I saw it kick down toward the hole so I hoped it was good. When I got up there, I noticed there was a ball missing. I went from five over to one over and from that point it wasn’t too hard getting it to the house.”
Other notables to advance include the defending champion Casey Boyns who posted a 6 and 4 win over Michael Wishart. After two-time Match Play winner Rob Thompson faded on the back nine, Jeff Burda carded to a 4 and 3 victory in the Round of 32.
“Robby (Thompson) beat me a few years ago in this, so it’s always nice to get another chance for redemption,” Burda said. “We both played pretty well. It was back and forth for a while there, but Robby just couldn’t get any putts to fall. This is as good a field as I can remember in this event. Especially after today, anyone can win.”
Two rounds of match play are slated for Wednesday at Spyglass Hill, with the Round of 16 beginning at 9:40 a.m., and the quarterfinals expected to go off at 2:26 p.m.
August 13, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH – The track at Poppy Hills proved to be difficult during the 18-hole qualifying round for the 6th Annual Senior Match Play Championship. Despite no red numbers on the day, Tom Lyons and Bob Rowland came in at one over to lead the way for the 16 qualifiers.
Lyons of Pleasanton was propelled to take the top spot and 17th position in the match play bracket after posting a back-nine 33 including an eagle on the par-4 383-yard 13th hole. This was good enough to best Rowland’s 36 on the back nine in a card off. Coincidentally, both men are members of Castlewood CC.
Three players, Neil Duffy, Tom Scarlett and Greg Olson, finished at 3-over 75 and were followed closesly by John Enright and Craig Gandy who both fired 76 to earn their way into the bracket. In 2011, Enright upended No. 1-seeded Jim Knoll in the first round of match play before he advanced into the semifinals. Seven men finished their qualifying round with a 77 to find their names in the match play field. Rob Thompson, a two-time Senior Match Play champion, 2010 runner-up and 2011 semifinalist, is among this group of qualifiers.
After finishing with a score of 6-over 78, a playoff between Terry Leach, Michael Harding, Marshall Raymer and Michael Wishart was conducted to fill the final two opening-round matches. Wishart and Harding advanced after a one-hole playoff. Interestingly, Wishart is the only player to make it through qualifying without carding a birdie in the round. He will be rewarded for his efforts by earning the right to face the 2011 champion and No. 2 seed Casey Boyns.
Unlike in years past, the 2012 match play bracket field has been doubled to include these 16 qualifying seniors and the top 16 players on the senior points list. The first round of match play is slated to take place Tuesday at Poppy Hills, beginning at 7:30 a.m.
NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship Preview
August 9, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH – Casey Boyns won the 2011 NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship as a rookie on the senior circuit beating Jeff Burda in a thrilling 18-hole match. It was his first NCGA major as a senior player and 15th overall. Since then Boyns has added his second major as a senior by winning the Senior Four-Ball with partner Mark Miller in June, placing him at a total of 16 majors in his storied NCGA career. The 56-year-old will try to add a 17th to his resume as the No.2 seed, when he attempts to defend his title this week. However, he will do so in a modified format from last year.
For the first five years of the NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, an exclusive number of senior players were allowed to play. Only those players who were in the top-16 of the senior points list made up of the 16 player match play field. With a growing interest in the championship however, the format was modified during the offseason to accommodate more senior players.
This year the top-16 players on the senior player of the year list still earned a spot in the match play field, but unlike previous years that doesn’t mean they will necessarily get to play Spyglass Hill. That’s because the primary change that was made to the event was expanding the match play bracket to 32 players. The 16 players atop the points list as of August 1 received an automatic spot in the bracket, but the other 16 spots will be decided after an 18-hole Monday qualifier held at Poppy Hills GC. This year 64 players will compete for those 16 at-large spots, which allows players like two-time Senior Match Play winner Rob Thompson, a crack at the match play portion of the event where anything can happen. On Tuesday the event will hold the round of 32, with players competing at Poppy Hills in groups of four, having two matches going on simultaneously. From Wednesday to Friday the event will move over to Spyglass Hill, where the final four rounds will be held, just like in years past.
So who is the favorite to win this year’s senior match play? It’s hard to pinpoint a clear-cut favorite, but several players are more than capable. Jim Knoll is close to sewing up a second consecutive NCGA Senior Player of the Year title, but the Sunnyvale resident has traditionally struggled in this event. Last year as the No. 1 seed—the same seed he has in this year’s event—Knoll lost in the quarterfinal round. In fact, Knoll has two things working against him: 1) he has never made it past the quarterfinals; 2) a No. 1 seed has never won the event. Despite those facts, this could be Knoll’s breakthrough year. Earlier this summer, Knoll accomplished a feat that had eluded him for nearly 20 years by winning the Master Division Championship.
Boyns will be an opponent no fellow senior wants to face. The defending champion won his matches last year by margins of 5 & 4, 3 & 2, and 6 & 5, before a closely fought final match with Burda. The 56-year-old has always proven to be a tough match play competitor, especially when looking at his history in events such as the California State Amateur (two-time winner) and NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship (two-time winner and three-time runner-up).
Jeff Burda has had great success in this event, having won in 2009 and finishing runner-up twice (’08 and ’11). He earned the fifth seed in this year’s event, but could very well draw 2010 champion Dan Bieber, who is the 12th seed, in the round of 16. The winner of that matchup will likely face Gary Vanier, the fourth seed, who has played some exceptional golf this year with runner-up finishes at the CGA State Senior and the NCGA Master Division Championship. Mark Miller is the last of the top five seeds (No. 3) to mention. The Antioch resident has made it to the semifinals twice in this event and the quarterfinals three times, but in order to just make it to this year’s quarterfinals Miller will likely need to get past current NCGA Senior Champion Michael Brannan, the 14th seed, in the round of 16. Brannan is a two-time California State Amateur Champion and a former NCGA Amateur Match Play Champion, proving he knows how to succeed in match play.
Qualifying action begins Monday at 7:30 a.m. at Poppy Hills GC.