15th Annual NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship
May 22-24, 2013
May 24, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
NAPA – After nine holes of the final round of the NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship at Silverado Resort, Gary Vanier and Mark Miller’s four-stroke lead had vanished. What looked to be a mere formality going into the final round to get their names etched in tournament history turned out to be a lot harder than anticipated as Gary Ramsden and Dennis Younglove fired a 31 on the front-nine par 35 of Silverado’s South Course, while Vanier and Miller shot a one-over par 36. Still, Vanier and Miller got going on back-nine, while Ramsden and Younglove cooled off, giving Vanier and Miller a two-shot victory. Their final round 71, one-under par was good enough to total 199, 17-under par.
“I shot all my bullets the first two days,” said Vanier, “I was just mediocre today.”
It turned out to be a good thing the duo had a four-shot cushion—and recorded a 36-hole tournament record of 128—going into the final round as they would make three bogeys on the front nine after only having two bogeys over the first 36 holes.
“I think we were playing a little defensive today,” said Vanier of their front-nine struggles.
Things got nearly back to normal for the tandem on the back-nine as they birdied Nos. 11, 13 and 14, before dropping another shot with a bogey on the 17th. Despite their mistakes on Friday, their 18 birdies on Wednesday and Thursday was the key to winning 15th Annual NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship.
“It was nice to win, I felt like we won this tournament with our play over the first two days,” said Vanier of his team’s 63 and 65.
Vanier, who is having an incredible year, already winning the NCGA Senior Championship, San Francisco City Senior and Alameda Commuters Senior, added another victory and another unique NCGA major to his collection.
“I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball better than Gary did this week,” said Miller, who pointed out the countless number of four-foot birdie putts Vanier had over the first two days.
Miller, who has now won this event for a third time with a third different partner, was thrilled to win once again, yet deflected much of the credit to his different playing partners over the years.
“I have been lucky to have some of the best partners out there,” he said.
Ramsden and Younglove, who played in the penultimate group and started the day in third place finished in second place with a 54-hole score of 201, after a final round of 68. The duo was dialed in on the front-nine and was extremely close to a sub-30 nine, but a few blown opportunities had them settling for a four-under par 31.
“We birdied four of the first five holes, but then missed a three-foot birdie on No. 7, a three-and-half foot birdie on No. 8 and five-foot birdie on nine,” said Ramsden of their bittersweet front-nine.
On the back-nine Ramsden and Younglove looked to possibly have some more magic left in them, with a birdie on the 12th, but a bogey on the par-5 13th was the beginning of the end as they finished with five straight pars for an even-par 37.
Taking third place for the second year in a row, after winning the event two years ago in 2011, was Jim Knoll and Jeff Burda. The duo finished 54 holes with a score of 14-under par 202, following their first two rounds of 67 with a four-under 68.
Finishing tied for fourth after beginning the day alone in second were Dan Bieber and Robert Fulton at 203, 13-under par. Playing in the final group with Vanier and Miller , Bieber and Fulton matched their fellow-competitors with a 71 on Friday after back-to-back 66s the first two days. Also in fourth place were Herb Jensen and Michael Harding, who scored a second 68 on the South Course as they did on Wednesday.
Next year’s event is yet to be determined with date and site.
May 23, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
NAPA – Thursday was moving day for the NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship at Silverado Resort, but movement was absent near the top of the board. After the second round the top two teams remain the same with Gary Vanier and Mark Miller leading with a 36-hole score of 128, 16-under par.
Vanier and Miller, who had a three-shot lead going into the day after a first round 63, increased their lead to four, posting a seven-under 65 on Thursday. Vanier once again played exceptionally well scoring a 68 on his own ball, but wasn’t thrilled with how they started as a team.
“Today we were mediocre on our front nine, but we played well on the back nine,” said Vanier.
Starting off the No. 10 tee on Silverado’s North Course, Vanier and Miller made birdies on Nos. 11 and 14, before making a bogey on No. 15, but added another birdie on No. 17 to turn at 34. On the front-nine, the duo finished strong birdieing five of their last seven holes, converting birdies on Nos. 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9.
Despite their advantage going into tomorrow’s round, Vanier isn’t taking anything for granted and believes he and Miller will need to team up for another mid-60s score.
“We just need to keep making birdies,” he said. “We still need to shoot a really low number [to win], I’d assume, especially in this format.”
Joining Vanier and Miller in the final group, and remaining in second place as they started the day, is the team of Dan Bieber and Robert Fulton at 132, 12-under par. The duo matched their first round of 66 in the same fashion making six birdies and no bogeys on the day. Starting on the 10th tee, Bieber and Fulton went the first six holes with all pars, but then the floodgates opened as they birdied five of the next six holes (Nos. 16, 17, 1, 2 and 3).To close their round the tandem would make a birdie on the par-5 ninth.
“We were both real solid striking the ball the last two days,” said Fulton.
Bieber and Fulton who have been playing golf with one another for the past 45 years know each other’s tendencies on the golf course and hope they’re able to put together another exceptional round tomorrow.
“We have to shoot as good as we did today or better [to have a chance to win],” said Fulton.
One shot back in third place at 133, 11-under par are Gary Ramsden and Dennis Younglove. The duo improved greatly from Thursday’s round following their three-under par 69 with an eight-under par 64. The tandem was able to make nine team birdies on the day, with their best stretch coming on Nos. 13-16, where Younglove made four straight birdies on his own ball.
“My partner hit his irons incredibly today, hitting six shots within 10 feet of the hole,” said Ramsden, who made four birdies of his own.
The duo, who have been teaming up in four-ball events for 30 years, know that they’ll need to do much of the same for Friday’s final round to have a chance at the title.
“Tomorrow we’re going to stay aggressive,” said Ramsden.
At 10-under par 134 and alone in fourth are 2011 champions Jim Knoll and Jeff Burda, who had a second consecutive day of 67. Unlike Wednesday’s round, which included an eagle and two bogeys, Knoll and Burda were bogey-free on the North Course, making five birdies on Nos. 2, 6, 8, 11 and 17. The former champions will join Ramsden and Younglove in the penultimate group for Friday’s final round.
Still in the hunt are Herb Jensen and Michael Harding, and David Ujihara and Mel Collins tied for fifth at 135, nine-under par. Right behind them and tied for seventh are Terry Foreman and Scott Anderson, and Doug Johnson and Rob Adolph at 136, eight-under par. Johnson and Adolph made the biggest move up the leaderboard on Thursday as they followed their opening round 73 with a 63, nine-under par. Adolph, who was playing Silverado’s North Course for his first time, shot a 64 on his own ball, scoring a 32 on each nine with eight total birdies and no bogeys.
The cutline came at 144 even-par with 33 teams advancing to Friday’s final round. Kevin MacGillivray and his partner Kenneth Griffith didn’t make the cut posting a two-day total of 150, but MacGillivray will have a shot he’ll always remember as he aced the 15th hole. All participants in tomorrow’s final round will start off the No. 1 tee on Silverado’s South Course with the first group going out at 7:00 a.m. and the leaders teeing off at 9:40 a.m.
May 22, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
NAPA – After the first round of the NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship Gary Vanier and Mark Miller have a three-shot lead, firing a nine-under par 63 on Silverado Resort’s South Course. Vanier and Miller, who were the second group out in the morning wave, teamed up making 10 birdies on the day, six on the par-35 front-nine and four on the par-37 back-nine. The duo’s front nine birdies came on Nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9, with their only mistake of the day coming on the par-4 fifth, taking a bogey. Success continued for the tandem on the back-nine, converting birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 14 and 16.
Miller, who is defending his half of the 2012 title (playing with a different partner in Vanier), made it clear where the credit should go for the team’s exceptional score.
“Gary hit it stiff every hole and had nine birdies,” said an effusive Miller about his teammate. “He’s in a world by himself when he plays like that.”
Vanier’s play was very impressive as he shot a seven-under par 65 on his own ball. He made five birdies and two bogeys on the front-nine for a 32, while on the back-nine he was responsible for all four team birdies to come in with a 33.
“He’s hitting his irons as good as anybody,” said Miller, whose two contributions to the duo’s score were a birdie on the fourth hole and a par on the seventh hole.
In second place is the team of Robert Fulton and Dan Bieber at six-under par 66. Teeing off in the second group of the afternoon wave, Fulton and Bieber converted four birdies and an eagle on the day. After birdies on Nos. 2 and 5, the duo took advantage of the short par-5 ninth guarded by a lake making an eagle-3 to go out with a 31. On the back-nine Fulton and Bieber would take advantage of two of the three par-5s making birdies on Nos. 13 and 18 to come in with a 35, for a bogey-free 66.
Tied for third place with scores of five-under par 67 are the teams of David Ujihara and Mel Collins, Jim Knoll and Jeff Burda, James Sheppard and Glen Bierer, and Tony McBroom and Tim Grunsky.
Ujihara and Collins, who were runner-ups in the 2012 championship, kept a clean card with no bogeys and five birdies on the day. Starting off the No. 10 tee as the second group in the morning wave, Ujihara and Collins converted their birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 17, 6 and 7.
Knoll and Burda scored their five-under par 67 by making five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle. It took some time for the 2011 champions to warm up, making a birdie on No. 2 and a bogey on No. 5 to turn at even-par 35. On the back-nine Knoll and Burda had a great stretch making four straight birdies on Nos. 11-14, before finishing with a bogey on No. 17 and an eagle on No. 18.
Sheppard and Bierer, who started off No. 10 in the afternoon wave, had three birdies over their first nine holes, taking birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 18. On their back nine the duo would add two more birdies on Nos. 5 and 7, for a bogey-free 67.
McBroom and Grunsky had six birdies and one bogey in their round. After trading a birdie on No. 2 with a bogey on No. 3, the tandem had five birdies over a six-hole stretch, making birdies on Nos. 9, 10, 12, 13 and 14.
Tied for seventh and in the hunt at four-under par 68 are the teams of Herb Jensen and Michael Harding, and Terry Foreman and Scott Anderson, and Robert Goodwin and Frank Pieper.
The tee times will reverse tomorrow with Wednesday’s morning wave going out in the afternoon and Wednesday’s afternoon wave going out in the morning. The field will also switch over to Silverado’s North Course. At the conclusion of tomorrow’s round the field will be cut to the low 30 and ties for Friday’s final round. After Wednesday’s round, 42 teams finished at one-over par or better.
NCGA Senior Four-Ball Preview
May 21, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
NAPA – Change is a big theme for this year’s NCGA Senior Four-Ball. The most obvious change is venue. After holding the first 14 championships at Poppy Hills GC the 15th edition of the NCGA Senior Four-Ball will be held 150 miles away at Silverado Resort in Napa. Players will compete on Silverado’s South Course on Wednesday and the North Course on Thursday, with the top 30 teams and ties who qualify for Friday’s final round returning to the South Course.
Another change to the event is the timing of it. Traditionally held in early June, the championship was moved up prior to Memorial Day. Instead of experiencing the June gloom of the Monterey Peninsula, players can be expecting pleasant temperatures in the mid-70s with plenty of sunshine for three straight days.
The final change is a guarantee that a title defense will not occur. Last year’s champions Mark Miller and Casey Boyns will not be teaming up this year, with Boyns out of the event and Miller partnering up with current NCGA Senior Champion Gary Vanier. The odds were against the duo anyway as only one team been successful in defending a title—Rob Thompson and Bob Berg in 2007 and ‘08—but still the possibility is no longer there.
Besides the formidable duo of Vanier and Miller—Miller will try to win a third title with a third different partner—plenty of players should contend for this year’s championship. Vanier and Miller are in the second group out Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. off the first tee, while last year’s runner-ups David Ujihara and Mel Collins tee off at the same time off the opposite tee (No. 10). Ujihara and Collins will be paired up with three-time champions Thompson and Berg (’05, ’07 and ’08). Gregory Saiki and Joe Beato, who finished alone in fourth place last year, also tee off in the morning wave, pegging it at 8:20 a.m. off No. 10 tee.
Jim Knoll and Jeff Burda, the 2011 champions, get things started in the second group of the afternoon wave teeing off No. 1 at 12:10 p.m. Doug Johnson and Rob Adolph, who finished in third place in 2011, tee off No. 10 at 12:30 p.m., while the Roddy Ranch duo of Scott Anderson and Terry Foreman tee off No. 1 at 1:00 p.m.