August 10-14, 2009
Spyglass Hill GC
August 14, 2009
PEBBLE BEACH – Forgive George Gandranata if he ignored NCGA history.
The 23-year-old posted “the biggest win of his life” in defeating 53-year-old Casey Boyns for the NCGA Amateur title at Spyglass Hill. Gandranata played the role of Stewart Cink in stopping Boyns’ Tom Watson-like quest to add an amazing 15th NCGA title to his legacy. In the semifinals, the champion had stopped the other legend in the younger NCGA ranks, Randy Haag.
“They never give up,” the champion said regarding his semifinal and final opponents. “I really respect both of them; they really pushed me.” Indeed, after building a 3-up lead against Boyns, the Cal Berkeley senior watched that lead evaporate on the 32nd hole. But he took advantage of a Boyns mistake on the 35th hole, as the Pebble Beach caddie left his approach shot in the front bunker and made bogey. The champion made par to eek out a 1-up lead he held on to on the final hole.
“I felt like I was due,” the native of Indonesia said. “I’ve been down before this week so I felt I could still do it. Just persevere and play strategically – anything can happen.” The two-time All Pac-10 team member is majoring in Economics and has a clear picture of his near future: “Accuracy has always been my strength. Getting longer is the key for me to reach the next level.” All week, Gandranata was usually first hitting into greens – even in the finals despite the 30-year age difference. But his remarkable consistency and accuracy with long irons and fairways woods made the champion a very tough competitor. The Emeryville resident had previously trained at the IMG Academy in Pendleton, Florida under David Leadbetter’s direction.
For runner-up Casey Boyns, who was making his fifth trip to the finals in hopes of adding to his two titles, an internal battle with his swing kept the Pacific Grove resident from the winner’s circle. “The whole week I was fighting my swing,” Boyns said. “Then I’d hit a good shot and he kept answering. I just didn’t make any putts today.” Save for one. A 55-foot bomb on the 26th hole, Spyglass’ brutal uphill 8th, stopped the champion’s momentum and led Boyns tieing the match six holes later. Boyns concluded the morning 18 on a mini roll, winning three of the last five holes to take a one-up lead. But Gandranata responded on the first nine of the afternoon, taking four holes to stake a three-up lead. Once Boyns squared the match, it became clear that the last player to make a mistake would lose, a distinction the runner-up earned when he found the bunker on the 35th hole.
The good news for other competitors in NCGA events is that Boyns will indeed become a senior golfer. But before that occurs two years hence, the NCGA legend clearly still has some noise to make amongst younger players.
Finals Photo Gallery
Semifinals and Quarterfinals
August 13, 2009
Casey Boyns will face George Gandranata in the finals of the NCGA Amateur Friday at Spyglass Hill. It is Boyns fifth NCGA Amateur final and will represent his third title should he prevail.
Boyns defeated 2008 runner-up Chris Marin 4 and 3 in the morning quarterfinals in a battle of Pebble Beach caddies. In the afternoon semifinals, Boyns’ putter got hot as he upended Matt Williams of Coyote Creek 5 and 4. Williams, who is the same age as as Boyns’ son Christopher, never got settled as the four-time NCGA Player of the Year holed putt after putt. “You have your ups and downs, so it feels really good to be here,” the 53-year-old finalist said. “I’ve been fighting my swing but my putting has kept me in it.”
George Gandranata took out State Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez in the morning, 3 and 1, and then built a three-hole lead against NCGA points leader Randy Haag in the semifinals. Haag’s putter caught fire after the 11th hole, as the 50-year-old birdied 12,14 and 15 to square the match. Neither player could put the other away then, until Gandranata was able to par the first extra hole to Haag’s bogey.
“I had my chances after I lost the lead,” the 23-year-old Cal Berkeley senior said. “I thought I had it a couple of times. I”m not sure about Randy, but I’m tired.”
The Emeryville resident and native Indonesian attend the IMG Academy in Pendleton, Florida before coming to Cal. He has previously won the Vacaville City (2007) and Contra Costa County (2006).
The finals are an interesting contrast in age – the competitors are 30 years apart and legacy. Gandranata is seeking his first major title while Boyns is going after his 15th NCGA title, nearly 30 years after his first, the 1981 Public Links.
Photo Gallery – Match Play
First Round and Round of 16
August 12, 2009
Randy Haag is on a mission.
The Olympic Club member, long one of the region’s best and, at the #4 seed, the highest-seeded player still alive in the tournament, has his sights firmly set on a fourth NCGA Player of the Year Award. A win this week at the NCGA Amateur at Spyglass Hill (his third overall title) will all but remove any doubt that the 50-year-old will achieve that goal. After a dominating first day of match play – Haag won his two matches 2-up and 6 and 5 over Terry Schrier of Stevinson Ranch and Bruce Hanavan of The Olympic Club, respectively – he has clearly built some momentum. A fourth Player of the Year Award would tie Haag with Casey Boyns, who reached that total in 2007.
Standing in Haag’s way in Thursday morning’s quarterfinals is 2007 champion Ryan Hallisey. The rising senior at Nevada-Reno looked quite comfortable in dispatching Dash Lindsell in the round of 16 and Grant Norton in the first round.
Two-time champion Casey Boyns went extra holes twice in taking out St. Mary’s Golf Coach Scott Hardy and Kevin Wentworth of Players Choice GC. Boyns will face the 2008 runner up in this event, Chris Marin of Monterey, who defeated Ricky Stockton of Salinas 1-up.
State Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez has also established some momentum. After struggling to get by NCGA Junior champion Michael Weaver in the first round in 19 holes, the rising senior at San Luis Obispo cruised in the afternoon round of 16, taking down Russell Humphrey 2 and 1. Gonzalez faces Cal Berkeley player George Gandranata, who had to go 21 holes to get past Chad Vivolo of Monterey Peninsula CC. Should Gonzalez win the title, he would be the first to accomplish winning the State Amateur and NCGA Amateur in the same year since Spencer Levin in 2004.
NCGA Valley Amateur champion Steven Chung defeated Spencer Fletcher of Los Altos 3 and 2 and is opposite Matt Williams of Coyote Creek in the quarterfinals. Williams eliminated #3 seed Tim Honeycutt of Cold Springs.
Upsets ruled the first round as the top two seeds were taken out in lopsided matches. Medalist Matt Montez of Valley Hi lost 6 and 4 to the #32 seed Humphrey while #2 seed Reid Scarff was taken out 7 and 5 by Chris Marin. Both Marin and Humphrey survived a playoff Tuesday night just to qualify for match play.