June 23, 2007
PEBBLE BEACH – It’s never over until it’s over is the perfect mantra for Josh Anderson. Pushed to the brink to qualify for match play and needing extra holes on two occasions throughout the week, the recent Murrieta Valley high school graduate used grit and perseverance to defeat Joseph Greiner 4 and 3 and capture the 96th California Amateur Championship at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
|CGA President Dick Skavdahl and champion Josh Anderson|
The 36-hole finale brought the seventh round in six days for both players. Anderson wasted no time Saturday by birdieing the first two holes to take a 2-up advantage through three. Uninspired play ensued with both players trading bogeys and making the turn over par. However, respective birdies on No. 10 jump-started the finalists into a display of amateur golf at its best on the back nine.
Greiner took his first lead of the day by virtue of birdies on 12 and 14 coupled with an Anderson bogey on 15. Clutch wedge play and putting was the perfect antidote for any deficit or challenge Anderson during the championship. To no one’s surprise the 31st seed had an answer, and a decisive one in that. Birdies on the last three holes led to a 1-up advantage at the midpoint of the championship.
The precise iron play continued as Anderson birdied the first and enjoyed a 4-up advantage through 24 holes. His lead was cut in half by the 30th hole but the 18-year-old responded with an ensuing birdie. The championship ended with an exclamation point by virtue of a 40-foot bomb for birdie on the 33rd hole. “I could be aggressive with the putt since it was uphill,” explained the champion, the fifth 18-year-old to win the event and the first since Patrick Nagle defeated Spencer Levin in 2003.
The concluding birdie personified a week for Anderson where he lived dangerously. Each time he was put in a tough position he responded with precision wedge play and putting. The week ended almost before it began for Anderson, as he needed birdies on two of his last three holes in stroke-play qualifying to obtain a spot in a 10-player playoff for match play.
Anderson also relied on last-minute heroics in a victory against two-time State Amateur champion Casey Boyns. The Pebble Beach caddie had a clear advantage on the 19th hole of the match, reaching the Shore Course’s first in two shots while Anderson was in the tall grass short and left of the green. Anderson chopped out to two feet for a conceded birdie while Boyns was unable to two putt, giving the match to Anderson. Boyns joined Eddie Olson, 2005 NCGA Amateur champion, and Tim Honeycutt as the only Northern Californians to reach the quarterfinals.
Less than five hours after his defeat of Boyns, Anderson added a new chapter to the State Amateur’s glorified history. The Southern Californian holed out for eagle to force extra holes in his semifinal match against good friend Sihwan Kim and then made birdie two holes later to take a spot in the finals.
“I was able to hang in there the entire week,” said Anderson, who shortly after qualifying for the tournament in 2005 was severely injured in an auto accident, forcing him to miss the event. “I knew once I made match play we could throw the seeds out. I knew I could win this if I played extremely well. Winning this championship has always been a dream of mine, there are so many great names on this trophy.”
|Runner-up Joseph Greiner|
While Greiner wasn’t able to add his name to the impressive list of winners, the week on the Peninsula proved to everyone in the golf world that he possesses the talent and fortitude to play Division I golf. The College of Canyons student posted a near perfect front-nine 28 in his second-round match against Gregor Main. Having never played a match-play event or the Dunes and Shore courses before Sunday’s practice round, the 20-year old remarkably notched 17 birdies while advancing past the opening two rounds of match play.
“It hurts to lose but it feels good to play this well” explained Greiner. “I knew I had it in me but I surprised myself with the 28. You hope to make a name for yourself and I think I did that this week. I would love to play Division I golf and this week will help me get there. ”
Anderson’s place in college golf was never in doubt (he signed with Pepperdine University), but his heroics at the State Amateur have raised the stakes: “This gives me a lot of confidence heading into college — you can’t get any higher than this.”
This year marked the start of a new era for the California Amateur, which will now rotate between Northern and Southern California with next year’s tournament at Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake and Oakmont CC in Glendale. Monterey Peninsula Country Club was the perfect host for the venerable championship. Glorious weather, a generous membership and some of the best greens in the country complemented a week full of exciting amateur golf.
Match Play Bracket
Quarterfinals and Semifinals Match Play Coverage
Thursday’s Match Play Coverage
Wednesday’s Match Play Coverage
First and Second Round Coverage
California State Amateur website