NCGA Public Links Championship
Bayonet GC/Spyglass Hill GC
April 29-30, 2013
April 30, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Par proved to be paramount at the 48th Annual Public Links Championship, just ask winner Nick Moore. The 30-year-old Monterey resident feasted on pars over the 36-hole competition, converting 30 total pars, 15 each day.
“[Pars] were the key, just keeping the ball in play and getting the ball on the green giving myself a chance for birdie,” he said.
Moore, who had two bogeys and one birdie in his first round at Bayonet GC yesterday, did the opposite today at Spyglass making two birdies and one bogey. His birdies both came on par 3s, each on the third hole of the two nines, No. 3 and No. 12, with his bogey coming on the par-4 10th. His two rounds of 73-71 for a 144 even-par total were good enough to claim top prize and come back from a day, which he started in sixth place.
“Today was almost the same as yesterday, where I hit greens in regulation, but couldn’t make a putt,” said Moore. “So, I’m really happy to escape with a win only making three birdies over two days.”
Moore’s story to the top ranks of amateur golf here in Northern California is incredibly unique. A competitive baseball player his whole life, including a four-year collegiate career, Moore didn’t pick up a golf club until the age of 23. Since then he has worked tirelessly at his golf game playing over 100 rounds every year, without spending any time at the practice range, learning golf solely on the course.
Last year, the 30-year-old mid-amateur broke out on the Northern California golf scene with a runner-up performance at the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship and finished 13th on the NCGA Player of Year points list to earn a spot on the Hanna-Wehrman Cup team. For Moore, his game is finally coming together after lots of time on the golf course.
“I’ve just really needed more time to really understand myself and my game, and I think I’m at that point now,” he said.
Another reason for his quick ascension is not only his obsession with playing golf, he also totes bags for a living as a caddie at Cypress Point Club.
“I would definitely say that my job helps my golf game,” said Moore, who’s been at it full-time for six years. “I’m constantly reading putts for people and walking off yardages, so my golf mind is always working.”
All-in-all, Moore is pleased to claim a victory and looks forward to many more opportunities.
“I’m happy with my game right now, and it’s great to be a winner,” he said.
Finishing in second place one shot back was first-round leader Russell Humphrey. The Lodi resident followed his opening round 71 with a two-over par 74. On the 18th hole Humphrey had a good look at birdie, but his 20-foot putt slid by the hole and he settled for par. Such was the story of his day.
“I just had too many putts today, but I hit the ball great,” said Humphrey, pointing out that he had four three-putts on Tuesday.
In third place was Danny Paniccia of Clovis at 146, following his opening round 72 with a 74 Tuesday. The 36-year-old had a chance to capture a second NCGA major to go along with his Valley Amateur win last September, but he faltered down the stretch making four consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15-18.
Defending champion Trent Tessler disqualified himself prior to Tuesday’s round when he realized that he had signed for an incorrect scorecard after yesterday’s opening round.
April 29, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
SEASIDE – After the first round of 48th Annual Public Links Championship, current NCGA Player of the Year points’ leader, Russell Humphrey, leads by a single stroke. Humphrey posted a score of one-under 71 at Bayonet GC—a course that was stretched out to nearly 7,100 yards—to lead a quartet of players at even-par 72.
Humphrey started off his round steady, making pars on the first seven holes before converting a birdie on the par-5 eighth hole. A bogey on the ninth dropped Humphrey back to even-par, but he made up for it with a birdie on the 10th to get back to one-under. After reeling off four straight pars on holes 12-15, the Lodi resident traded scores with a bogey on No. 16 and a birdie on No. 18 to post a one-under 71.
“I drove the ball well, hit almost every green in regulation and was never really in trouble, so that made a big difference,” said Humphrey.
Humphrey, who won two NCGA majors in 2012, is looking for his third major in the last 12 months. This one would stand out from the other two though as his other wins were in team competitions, winning the Four-Ball Championship with James Watt and the Master Division Four-Ball with Jeff Hoffman. He’ll have plenty of competition though as he’ll be paired with three of the four players, who are only one shot behind.
The early clubhouse leader was Giovani Ayong of Stockton. Ayong’s 72 included an eagle, two birdies and four bogeys. The 38-year-old, who started off No. 10 tee, opened up with a birdie but gave it right back on No. 12 to shoot an even-par 36 over the first nine holes. He started off his second nine with a birdie on No. 1, but once again gave it right back on the second hole. The highlight of his round was holing it out from the fairway on the 343 yard par-4 fifth for an eagle-2. Bogeys on the sixth and ninth hole prevented the Stockton resident to finish in red numbers.
Danny Paniccia, the 2012 NCGA Valley Amateur Champion, also carded one of the even-par 72s. The 36-year-old got off to a quick start making three birdies in his first six holes (Nos. 1, 5 and 6) before making his first bogey on the ninth hole to go out with 34. The Clovis resident then got to four-under par for the round with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, but that’s when things started going south. Paniccia would finish with four bogeys over the final six holes (Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 17) to come in with a 38 for an even-par 72.
Austin Roberts, who was paired with Paniccia, reversed roles with the mid-amateur as he opened with a 38 on the front-nine, but finished with a 34 on the back-nine to shoot even-par 72. On the front-nine the 20-year-old had three bogeys (Nos. 2, 4 and 8) and one birdie (No. 5), while he had three birdies (Nos. 10, 11 and 18) and one bogey (No. 15) on the back nine.
Mark Mallin, the last of the four to fire an even-par 72, had three birdies and three bogeys in his round. Beginning on No. 10 tee Mallin made birdies on Nos. 13 and 18, while bogeying No. 15 for a 35. On the front nine he made bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5, while converting a birdie on No. 7 for a 37.
Also in contention and finding themselves in the penultimate group are Nick Moore, Matthew Yount and Joshua Stone. Moore is alone in sixth place after a one-over par 73, while Yount and Stone are tied for seventh at two-over par 74. Defending champion Trent Tessler finished at six-over par 78 and is currently in a tie for 25th place.
The final round will take place tomorrow at Spyglass Hill with the leaders going off last at 9:50 a.m.
PUBLIC LINKS PREVIEW
April 25, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – The 48th edition of the NCGA Public Links Championship begins this coming Monday and will do so with a new twist. For the first time in its history the championship and net fields will be separated, doubling the standard field size of 120 total players to 240. Traditionally, the championship and net players all played among one another at Spyglass Hill for two days, but this year each field will play a day at Bayonet GC in Seaside and the other day at Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach. Players in the championship field will duel it out Monday at Bayonet GC and wrap up Tuesday at Spyglass Hill, while the net field will compete at the two courses on opposing days.
In the championship field Trent Tessler will defend his title beginning Monday at 8:00 a.m. off the No. 10 tee at Bayonet. The San Jose resident didn’t exude much confidence about his chances of a title defense, then again he felt the same way going into last year’s championship.
“I just don’t have too high of expectations, based off lack of play,” said the 36-year-old mid-amateur, who has been preoccupied with work and family. “Just like last year, my game could be pretty good or it could be pretty bad.”
Having won with a 36-hole score of 149 in 2012—the highest-winning total since 1993—Tessler believes that a lot of things will factor in who comes out on top. Speaking from experience Tessler won last year with an unusually high score, but a decade earlier he was a runner-up to Logan Goettsch, who fired a 140 to Tessler’s 141, which is the second lowest winning total in Public Links Championship history—a feat that’s been accomplished only three times. The winning score can definitely be unpredictable.
“It all depends on how the courses play, but I’d say you’d have to love anything around even-par,” he said.
If Tessler were to fire a mid-140s score and come up with a victory at this year’s championship, he’d be in some elite company as there are only three back-to-back champions all-time: Mike Powers (1972-73), Mitch Thomas (1978-79) and Scott Hardy (2010-11). One of those three, Hardy, will be in the field this week and technically will be going for his own version of a three-peat. Unable to play in the 2012 championship because of a work conflict, Hardy could win his third straight Public Links Championship, and fourth overall, tying him with Casey Boyns for the most titles.
Hardy, who will tee off Monday at 7:30 a.m. off the 10th tee at Bayonet GC, will be one of many challengers Tessler will be faced with and he knows it.
“I couldn’t convince Scott not to play,” said Tessler in a joking manner. “He’ll be tough to beat.”
Here’s a short list of who else could contend for the title:
Danny Paniccia (8:20 a.m., No. 1) – Won the NCGA Valley Amateur title in September helping him finish second in the NCGA Player of the Year race. 2012 Public Links Result: T-11
Austin Roberts (8:20 a.m., No. 1) – Roberts was the co-medalist at the 2012 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship with a 36-hole score of 141 at Spyglass Hill.
Matt Cohn (8:40 a.m., No. 1) – Two top-10 finishes the last two years in this event, including a runner-up finish in 2011. 2012 Public Links Result: T-6
Russell Humphrey (9:20 a.m., No. 1) – Won two NCGA majors in 2012, but both were team events: NCGA Four-Ball Championship and Master Division Four-Ball. Currently, Humphrey leads all players in the 2013 NCGA Player of the Year race with 343 points.
The field will also include four other past champions besides Tessler and Hardy:
1977 champion: Terry Foreman (9:00 a.m., No. 1)
1982 champion: Jim Knoll (9:00 a.m., No. 1)
2001 & 2009 champion: William Moore (9:50 a.m., No. 1)
2008 champion: Kyle Prolo (8:00 a.m., No. 1)