NCGA Public Links Preview
April 25, 2013
PEBBLE BEACH – The 48th edition of the NCGA Public Links Championship begins this coming Monday and will do so with a new twist. For the first time in its history the championship and net fields will be separated, doubling the standard field size of 120 total players to 240. Traditionally, the championship and net players all played among one another at Spyglass Hill for two days, but this year each field will play a day at Bayonet GC in Seaside and the other day at Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach. Players in the championship field will duel it out Monday at Bayonet GC and wrap up Tuesday at Spyglass Hill, while the net field will compete at the two courses on opposing days.
In the championship field Trent Tessler will defend his title beginning Monday at 8:00 a.m. off the No. 10 tee at Bayonet. The San Jose resident didn’t exude much confidence about his chances of a title defense, then again he felt the same way going into last year’s championship.
“I just don’t have too high of expectations, based off lack of play,” said the 36-year-old mid-amateur, who has been preoccupied with work and family. “Just like last year, my game could be pretty good or it could be pretty bad.”
Having won with a 36-hole score of 149 in 2012—the highest-winning total since 1993—Tessler believes that a lot of things will factor in who comes out on top. Speaking from experience Tessler won last year with an unusually high score, but a decade earlier he was a runner-up to Logan Goettsch, who fired a 140 to Tessler’s 141, which is the second lowest winning total in Public Links Championship history—a feat that’s been accomplished only three times. The winning score can definitely be unpredictable.
“It all depends on how the courses play, but I’d say you’d have to love anything around even-par,” he said.
If Tessler were to fire a mid-140s score and come up with a victory at this year’s championship, he’d be in some elite company as there are only three back-to-back champions all-time: Mike Powers (1972-73), Mitch Thomas (1978-79) and Scott Hardy (2010-11). One of those three, Hardy, will be in the field this week and technically will be going for his own version of a three-peat. Unable to play in the 2012 championship because of a work conflict, Hardy could win his third straight Public Links Championship, and fourth overall, tying him with Casey Boyns for the most titles.
Hardy, who will tee off Monday at 7:30 a.m. off the 10th tee at Bayonet GC, will be one of many challengers Tessler will be faced with and he knows it.
“I couldn’t convince Scott not to play,” said Tessler in a joking manner. “He’ll be tough to beat.”
Here’s a short list of who else could contend for the title:
Danny Paniccia (8:20 a.m., No. 1) – Won the NCGA Valley Amateur title in September helping him finish second in the NCGA Player of the Year race. 2012 Public Links Result: T-11
Austin Roberts (8:20 a.m., No. 1) – Roberts was the co-medalist at the 2012 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship with a 36-hole score of 141 at Spyglass Hill.
Matt Cohn (8:40 a.m., No. 1) – Two top-10 finishes the last two years in this event, including a runner-up finish in 2011. 2012 Public Links Result: T-6
Russell Humphrey (9:20 a.m., No. 1) – Won two NCGA majors in 2012, but both were team events: NCGA Four-Ball Championship and Master Division Four-Ball. Currently, Humphrey leads all players in the 2013 NCGA Player of the Year race with 343 points.
The field will also include four other past champions besides Tessler and Hardy:
1977 champion: Terry Foreman (9:00 a.m., No. 1)
1982 champion: Jim Knoll (9:00 a.m., No. 1)
2001 & 2009 champion: William Moore (9:50 a.m., No. 1)
2008 champion: Kyle Prolo (8:00 a.m., No. 1)