August 16, 2007
PEBBLE BEACH – In the end, youth was served.
The semifinal winners of the NCGA Amateur Match Play at Spyglass Hill guaranteed that the champion will once again come from the ranks of golfers under age 25, continuing a recent trend. The last mid-amateur to win was James Hay in 2000.
Jeremy Gearhart, a 23-year-old who recently rejoined the ranks of amateur golfers, defeated Gary Tewell 2 and 1 to punch his ticket to the finals. Gearhart earlier took out Kory Storer of Peninsula GCC 5 and 4 in the quarterfinals, going 6-under before the match ended on the 14th hole.
But the afternoon match proved more of a challenge to the Atascadero resident, perhaps because of the fourth straight day of golf and second straight day of 36 holes. “I was getting tired but I got it home,” Gearhart said. “I just kept grinding trying to make par.”
After building a 2-up lead, Gearhart survived numerous charges made by Tewell, a former member of the Cal State East Bay golf team. Tewell, of Tri-Valley GC, had defeated Jeff Lyons of Tracy 4 and 2 to get to the semifinals.
Gearhart, who recently became a father for the first time, sees no reason to change his approach for the finals: “I just try to play my own game and hope things fall my way.”
In the other semifinal match, 19-year-old Ryan Hallisey (right) upended the lone mid-amateur still in the field, NCGA veteran Randy Haag. Hallisey had a comfortable lead most of the match before bogeying 16 and 17. “I made some dumb errors because I was a little nervous down the stretch. I left the door open,” the 2006 Sacramento Bee high school Player of the Year said. It was a door that Haag couldn’t walk through, as the Olympic Club member missed a 12-foot putt on the 18th hole to extend the match.
Hallisey earlier defeated Jon Peterson of the Olympic Club 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals. Hallisey is a Granite Bay High alum and rising sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno. Earlier in the summer, he claimed the Sacramento County Championship. Haag defeated Steven Chung of Teal Bend 3 and 2 to get to the semifinals. He now gears his game for the U.S. Amateur, being held at his home club next week.
The scheduled 36-hole final begins Friday at 7:00 am.
Semifinalist Gary Tewell
Semifinalist Randy Haag