Final Quarter of the Points Season is the Most Important
July 3, 2013
PEBBLE BEACH – The last three months are critical in the NCGA Player of the Year race, just look no further than 2012 as the leading example. The race had three different leaders in that span with Randy Haag, Ben Geyer and Michael Weaver each claiming the top spot for a period of time. However, when all was said and done, Geyer came out on top despite a late surge by Danny Paniccia, who came up 27 points shy of the top spot after earning approximately half of his points in the final six weeks.
A big reason for the jumbled leaderboard over the final quarter of the NCGA Player of the Year race—which occurs from October 1 to September 30 year-in, year-out—is because the amount of points that are at stake. Approximately 40 percent of the available points in the NCGA Player of the Year race are available between July 1 and September 30 with major tournaments such as the NCGA Amateur Match Play, NCGA Amateur Stroke Play, NCGA Valley Amateur and U.S. Amateur accounting for a good chunk of a player’s potential points. Add in specialized events like the U.S. Mid-Am, U.S. Junior, U.S. Public Links and NCGA Junior and even more points are available to certain players.
The way the 2013 race is shaping up, it looks to be Cory McElyea’s to lose. Nine months into the race the Santa Cruz native has a 505-point lead over Fresno’s Pace Johnson, 1,405-900. McElyea is having a stellar summer having won the 102nd California State Amateur and also qualifying for and participating in the 2013 U.S. Open. Still, just as last year proved, anything can happen over the final few weeks and McElyea has solid competition within striking distance with eight players within 900 points of him. While that may seem like a lot of points, considering the winners of events like the NCGA Amateur Match Play (700 points), NCGA Stroke Play (600 points) and NCGA Valley (500 points) get several hundred points things can change in a hurry.
Johnson is a definite threat and is actually a made five-foot putt away from reversing position with McElyea on the leaderboard. Besides his semifinal performance at the California State Amateur, Johnson has won solid events such as the Palo Alto City (150 points), the Fresno City (200 points) and the Alameda Commuters (200 points) this year. Nick Moore, who made it to the quarterfinals of the California State Amateur, is third on the points list at 894 points, which was bolstered by his NCGA Public Links title. Six-time NCGA Player of the Year Haag is in fourth place at 728 points, helped by his NCGA Master Division title, while Russell Humphrey is in fifth place at 715 points with two runner-ups and a win in NCGA events this points season.
Others not far off include 2012 U.S. Amateur runner-up Weaver and California State Amateur runner-up Bryson DeChambeau tied for sixth at 650 points. Josh Stone is eighth at 603 points, California State Amateur semifinalist Matt Hansen is ninth at 595 points, and Paniccia, winner of the 2012 NCGA Valley Amateur and 2013 NCGA Four-Ball is 10th at 539 points.
In the senior division Jim Knoll looks to be on pace to win a third consecutive NCGA Senior Player of the Year. Knoll currently holds a 97-point lead over Casey Boyns 1,901-1,804. Knoll has been aided by his semifinal performance at the 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur along with runner-up performances at the 2012 CGA Senior Amateur and the 2013 NCGA Four-Ball Championship. Boyns has had a stellar year winning the 2012 CGA Senior Amateur and nearly winning the 2013 NCGA Senior Championship, losing in a playoff.
Despite the robust resumés of Knoll and Boyns, there may not be a hotter senior player than current third place resident Gary Vanier. The two-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year has 1,580 points and has accumulated those points in a mere 11 events. His average of 143.6 points per event entered is better than both Boyns (120.2) and Knoll (100). Vanier has been buoyed by his victories in NCGA events—NCGA Senior, NCGA Senior Four-Ball—and outside events—Alameda Commuters Senior and SF City Senior.
Whatever the case may be, know that a lot of movement on the points list is ahead. While it may feel like it’s the end of the points year, it’s really just the beginning.