NCGA Senior Championship
Spyglass Hill GC
April 1-2, 2013
April 2, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Gary Vanier may have a new nickname after his latest victory at the 52nd Annual NCGA Senior Championship. When presented the first place medal by NCGA Vice President Brian Morse, he dubbed the new champion “Mr. Lucky.”
Despite having a two-stroke lead going into the day, everyone who stuck around was surprised to see the 2009 champion add a second title to his name, even Vanier himself.
“This one here I really take as a gift,” said Vanier comparing his second title to his first. “Casey [Boyns] really had it won coming down 14, but I guess that’s why you play all 18 holes.”
Ah, the 14th hole, a 525-yard downhill, winding hole with a green guarded by a lake. That was the undoing of Boyns’ brilliant round. Up to that point Boyns had made five birdies on the day, and found himself at four-under par, five strokes ahead of Vanier, who was three-over for the day through 13 holes.
But that’s when disaster struck for Boyns, who made a quintuple bogey 10. After hitting his drive off to the right behind some trees (1), Boyns attempted a large cut shot with a 3-iron around a tree, which ended up being pulled into trees left of the fairway less than 150 yards from the green (2). Finding his ball, Boyns then stepped on a branch a yard away causing his ball to move, costing him a penalty stroke (3). After replacing his ball, Boyns hit two shots that went about a total of five feet, before finally being able to chip out (4-6). Boyns then flew his approach shot over the green into the back bunker (7), hit his bunker shot onto the green (8) and two putted (9-10).
With Vanier making a birdie on the 14th, the Olympic Club member suddenly had a one-stroke lead after going into the hole five strokes behind. Still, despite a horrendous number by Boyns on the 14th, the Pacific Grove resident was able to string four pars together, while Vanier had three pars and a bogey, forcing a tie after 36 holes at one-over par 145.
In the sudden playoff, Vanier was again fortuitous sealing up the sudden-death playoff on the first hole. The players teed off the 10th hole, with Vanier hitting his drive in the right rough about 135 yards away, while Boyns left himself in the first cut of rough on the right side with 110 yards in. After Vanier’s shot rolled off the green, Boyns left a wedge 20 feet below the hole. For his third shot Vanier chipped to within two feet, assuring a par. With a chance to win, Boyns got aggressive with his uphill birdie putt, slamming it four feet past the hole. What happened next summed up Boyns’ day as he lipped-out his putt for par, making a bogey.
“I tell you, [the 10] isn’t as disappointing as the three-putt right there,” said Boyns minutes after the playoff. “I hit the ball too well to lose this thing.”
Maybe a more appropriate nickname after the 2013 NCGA Senior Championship would be for Boyns being “Mr. Unlucky.” After all, Vanier is one of the all-time NCGA greats, having not only two NCGA senior titles to his name, but also an NCGA Amateur Match Play title, an NCGA Master Division title, a CGA Amateur and CGA Senior Amateur title.
Vanier admits he’s playing well of late, having won another San Francisco City Senior title last month and he hopes to see continued success.
“I’ve been playing really well the last month,” said Vanier. “Casey always plays these courses well, so I feel very fortunate [to win].”
Finishing third and earning a medal was Dan Bieber of Alamo with a 36-hole score of 147. Bieber, who also played in the final group, followed his first round 71 with a 76.
April 1, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – The cream rose to the top Monday at Spyglass Hill for the 52nd Annual NCGA Senior Championship. Tomorrow’s final group will feature four previous NCGA major winners, and the final round should be a battle of attrition between the four perennial players.
Leading the way by a single stroke is 2009 NCGA Senior Champion and multiple NCGA and CGA champion Gary Vanier, who fired a two-under par 70. Vanier’s round included three bogeys and five birdies, none more important than the back-to-back birdies he converted to close out his round on Nos. 17 and 18.
“I knocked in two 12-footers over the last two holes, and I’m not sure how they went in,” said a somewhat incredulous Vanier.
While his putting may have been a little too inconsistent for his taste, Vanier’s ball-striking was in top form as he would explain he hit nearly every green in regulation and kept the ball out of trouble. As for how he feels about tomorrow’s round the former champion is keeping a stoic poker face about the whole situation, saying simply that “tomorrow will be interesting.”
Joining Vanier in the final pairing is Dan Bieber of Alamo, a former NCGA Senior Match Play Champion. Bieber held an early clubhouse lead with a one-under 71, but that lasted for all of 20 minutes, until Vanier posted his two-under par round. Bieber’s day did not get off to the start he wanted with a bogey on the par-5 first. However, the 60-year-old wasn’t fooled by the other par 5s as he birdied Nos. 7, 11 and 14, with his only other bogey occurring on the eighth hole.
The other two players to round out the group are Casey Boyns and Terry Foreman, who each posted an opening round score of even-par 72. Boyns, arguably the most storied NCGA golfer in history owning over a dozen NCGA championships to his name, had a steady day with 14 pars, two birdies and two bogeys. The Pacific Grove resident has yet to add an NCGA Senior title to his resume, but he’s itching to do so in his third start, especially coming off a third place finish in last year’s event.
Foreman, who’s playing in only his second NCGA Senior, had a similar type round to Boyns as he made three birdies and three bogeys. Foreman is the most recent senior player of the group to win an NCGA major at Spyglass Hill as he won the NCGA Senior Match Play Championship in August beating none other than Gary Vanier.
The final group will tee off Tuesday at 9:50 a.m. off the first tee at Spyglass Hill.
BRANNAN TRIBUTE: At the conclusion of Monday’s first round, around 3:30 p.m., a few dozen senior players gathered around the upper putting green at Spyglass Hill near the Founder’s Club to honor defending champion, the late Michael Brannan. Brannan, who passed away earlier this year after a battle with cancer, was honored by a few words from his peers. NCGA Vice President Brian Morse, who emceed the event asked for Jim Knoll and Casey Boyns to share a few lasting memories of Brannan. Knoll reminisced the days when he played against Brannan in college, as PGA Tour members and most recently in some NCGA senior events. Similarly, Boyns recalled days of playing against Brannan as they attended rival high schools in Monterey County and later in college at BYU and Utah.
After a few words were spoken in his honor all previous champions that were present were asked to putt towards a hole, representing a final putt in Brannan’s memory. Additionally, a flag signed and framed by all senior participants was presented to Brannan’s surviving father and brother.