10th Annual NCGA Valley Amateur & Senior Valley Championship
September 16-17, 2013
September 17, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
MADERA – Nick Moore made things look easy for the second day in a row at the 10th Annual NCGA Valley Amateur Championship, winning the event Tuesday at Riverbend GC by five shots. As he stressed the day before, Moore did exactly what he said he planned to do and play golf one shot at a time.
“It was a good day,” said the newly crowned champion. “I stuck to the game plan and took it one step at a time.”
Following his first round 5-under-par 67, Moore fired a final round score of 2-under-par 70 to finish with a 7-under-par 137 total. Playing his first round without a bogey, the first-round leader nearly duplicated the feat again, making only one bogey Tuesday, which came on his 31st hole of the tournament (No. 13). In fact, the tournament looked well-in-hand early as the Seaside resident made birdies on Nos. 1, 8 and 10 stretching his lead to nine shots at that point.
“The birdie on the first hole really eased me for the day,” said Moore. “It was a pretty stress-free day.”
With the victory, Moore adds a second NCGA major title to his resume, the other coming earlier this year at the NCGA Public Links Championship. Having only played golf for a little more than seven years, the 31-year-old has been pleased to see his game progress to this point.
“Overall, this year has been a really big step for me in the right direction,” said Moore, who also qualified for his first USGA event earlier this summer.
Finishing in second place and firing the round of the day with a 3-under-par 69 was Austin Roberts of Carmichael. The 20-year-old, who had less than a stellar start with a 2-over-par 38 on the front, had an incredible back nine of 31, which included three birdies and an eagle-2 all in a five-hole stretch (Nos. 13, 14, 16 and 17).
“I played really solid, I’m happy with the way I finished today,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ 36-hole total put him alone in second place at 2-under-par 142, while tied for third place were Matt Cohn and Mike Stieler at even-par 144. Stieler, who started the day in second place, faded back to a tie for third following his opening round 70 with a final round 74, while Cohn posted a 72 for the second straight day. Defending champion Danny Paniccia finished alone in fifth place with a 36-hole score of 145, which included rounds of 73 and 72.
In the senior division, Gary Vanier added a third NCGA Senior Valley Amateur Championship title to his name with a two-day total of 1-over-par 145. Starting the day in a tie for second place, three shots off first-round leader Mel Collins, Vanier followed his opening round of 73 with an even-par 72.
“I hit the ball good; made a couple mistakes, but I putted really well,” said Vanier.
The Pleasant Hill resident started off nicely making birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 before dropping back with a double bogey on No. 6 to turn at even-par. Despite a bogey on the 10th, Vanier kept his composure and made seven pars and a birdie (No. 16) over his final eight holes.
After two years of close calls—getting overtaken in the final round in 2011 and then double bogeying the 18th hole in 2012 to lose by two shots—Vanier’s third title in this event comes after a six-year drought, last winning titles in 2006 and ’07.
“It’s just nice to keep doing it,” said the 62-year-old. “As you get older you don’t know how much longer you’re going to be able compete at this level, but I’m just glad I’m able to do it.”
Vanier will come up shy of being honored with NCGA Senior Player of the Year due to his position on the points list, but arguably no senior player has performed better in 2013. With the victory Vanier adds a third NCGA Senior major to his name, having already won the NCGA Senior Championship in April and the NCGA Senior Four-Ball with partner Mark Miller in May.
“I’ve just been really focused and been trying to keep things as simple as I can,” said Vanier. “I’m not trying to be a hero out there, just hit it solid one shot at a time and it’s worked out well all year.”
Casey Boyns, who played in the penultimate group of seniors, finished one shot behind Vanier at 2-over-par 146 with rounds of 74 and 72 for second place. In third place at 6-over-par 150 was senior points’ leader Jim Knoll, who had rounds of 74 and 76. David Ujihara finished alone in fourth place at 7-over-par 151, while alone in fifth place was Jim Williams at 8-over-par 152. Collins, the first-round leader, had a disastrous final found, following his opening round 70 with a final round 84 to finish at 154 and tied for sixth place.
September 16, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
MADERA – A bogey-free round is always good round, but a bogey-free round along with five birdies is even better, just ask Nick Moore of Seaside. After the first round of the 10th Annual NCGA Valley Amateur Moore holds a three-shot lead thanks to a 5-under-par 67.
“I think it’s every golfer’s goal to play 18 holes with no bogeys, so I’m pretty happy with that considering it doesn’t happen too often,” said Moore.
The 31-year-old mid-amateur started off his round with eight pars and one birdie on the front-nine, converting his lone birdie on the par-5 fourth to turn with a 1-under 35. Then on the back-nine things heated up with three consecutive birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13, before adding a final birdie on the par-4 16th.
“That was a nice little stretch to get me going,” said Moore of his birdies on Nos. 11-13, which he estimated were all made putts less than 15 feet in length.
Moore credited not only solid ball-striking and a few made putts for his good play, but a friend from San Diego who was on the bag for him, which helped him play loose. Going into tomorrow’s final round, Moore knows it will be important not to get ahead of himself and focus on one shot at a time. Luckily, Moore is a proven winner, having won the NCGA Public Links Championship less than six months ago.
“The game-plan for tomorrow is just to come out and play golf,” said Moore. “If I just focus on short-term goals—hole-by-hole—I think the overall outcome will take care of itself.”
The biggest threat to overtaking Moore and alone in second place is Mike Stieler, who fired a 2-under-par 70. The 46-year-old made a bogey early (No. 4) and a bogey late (No. 18) with four birdies in between, which came in pairs (Nos. 5/6 and 10/11).
Stieler, who is Riverbend’s course superintendent, knows the course better than any player in the field and has had a couple close calls the last couple years. Last year he shared the 18-hole lead and in 2011 he lost in a playoff. The Coarsegold resident hopes his course knowledge may give him a slight advantage as he knows that it has helped other past NCGA legends capture their various titles.
“It’s nice to be at my home track, I feel like Casey Boyns or Randy Haag at Spyglass” he said. “It’s nice to know every nook and cranny out here, but you still have to get it in the hole.”
Three players are tied for third place at even-par 72: Matt Cohn, Bradley Peil and Joe Huston. Three others are tied for sixth place at 1-over-par 73 including defending champion Danny Paniccia.
In the senior division Mel Collins, who was in the final group out of the afternoon teeing off at 2:21 p.m., leads with a 2-under-par 70. Collins’ front-nine was bookended with a birdie on No. 1 and bogey on No. 9 to turn at even-par 36. Then on the back nine, the Long Beach resident opened with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with seven straight pars to come in with a 2-under-par 34.
“I just hit the ball really good today,” said Collins, who hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation. “Tee to green was good, I just would like to putt the ball a little better.”
Two players are tied for second place as Jim Williams and two-time Senior Valley Amateur champion Gary Vanier each fired a 1-over-par 73. Williams of Orinda had a par-filled round, converting 15 pars along with a birdie (No. 2) and two bogeys (Nos. 8 and 16). Vanier’s round was much more volatile including four birdies and five bogeys. Starting on No. 10, the Pleasant Hill resident made two birdies (Nos. 11 and 15) and two bogeys (Nos. 14 and 16) on the back-nine to turn at even-par 36. Then to start his back-nine, Vanier opened with three straight bogeys on Nos. 1, 2 and 3 before following with birdies on Nos. 4 and 7 to come in with a 1-over-par 37.
Tied for fourth place at 2-over-par 74 are Nos. 1 and 2 players on the senior points list Jim Knoll and Casey Boyns along with David Ujihara and James Duncan. Defending Senior Valley champion, Jeff Burda, had to withdraw due to an injury on his hand.
The final round will commence Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the senior players going out first off of double tees.
Valley Amateur Preview
September 12, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Last month PGA Tour players competed in the PGA Championship a tournament with the long-standing mantra of “Glory’s Last Shot” referring to a player’s chance to capture the final professional major of the year. If ever there were a parallel when it comes to amateur golf in Northen California, the Valley Amateur Championship would fit the bill.
The 10th Annual Valley Amateur Championship takes place this coming Monday and Tuesday at Riverbend GC in Madera, the host of the event for the past two years. The 36-hole tournament, where top amateurs in the region will attempt to add their names to NCGA history, is the last chance of the 2013 points season to not only win an NCGA major, but make a significant move in the player of the year races. Several players in the event are seeking a top-15 finish on the 2013 NCGA Player of the Year points list, which would secure exempt spots into both 2014 NCGA Amateur Championships (Stroke Play & Match Play).
Defending champion, Danny Paniccia, is one of those on the outside looking in as he currently resides in the No. 17 spot, 18 points behind the No. 15 spot. Paniccia, a golf shop attendant at Riverbend GC, has more playing experience at the course than any other player with the exception of his NCGA Four-Ball partner, Mike Stieler, the Riverbend GC superintendent. Stieler, who is currently No. 14 on the points list, has had two great opportunities the last two years at the Valley Amateur finishing tied for fifth last year after a share of the first round lead, and losing in a playoff two years ago to Logan Goulding.
Contenders hoping to join the winner’s circle and further solidify already stellar years are Matt Cohn (No. 6), Public Links Champion Nick Moore (No. 8) and Austin Roberts (No. 10). Other players hoping for a good showing and/or title to move into the top-15 are Jeff Hoffman (No. 18), Jason Anthony (No. 20) and Johnny Partridge (T40).
In the senior division Jeff Burda will attempt to successfully defend his title. The 2008 NCGA Senior Player of the Year already has multiple senior major victories with the NCGA Senior Championship (2008, ’10) and the CGA Senior Amateur Championship (2008-10), but didn’t win his first Senior Valley title until last year. He’ll need to beat a few past champions like Carl Selkirk (2004), Jim Knoll (2008, ’11) and Gary Vanier (2006-07) for a second title to his name, along with other perennial senior players such as Casey Boyns, Mark Miller and Terry Foreman.
Knoll is only 20 points behind his record setting senior points total of 2011, and essentially just has to show up to surpass that mark. Boyns has put a little more pressure on Knoll this year as he’s a little more than 300 points behind, however, he’ll need something miraculous to overtake Knoll for Senior Player of the Year at this point. Vanier, who is third on the points list, already has two senior major titles to his name in 2013 (NCGA Senior and Senior Four-Ball) and hopes to add a third to his outstanding year.
The 10th Annual NCGA Valley Amateur Championship will commence Monday, Sept. 16 at noon with the final round taking place Tuesday morning.