110th Annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship
Spyglass Hill GC
August 12-16, 2013
August 16, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Ben Geyer just keeps making history. A month after becoming the first player in 54 years to win back-to-back titles in the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, Geyer became the first player in 51 years to win the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play and Match Play championships in the same year. He accomplished that by winning the 110th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill on Friday beating Andrew Morgan 5-and-4 in the 36-hole final.
“Reading about that in the [match play preview] article kind of pumped me up to want to play really well and win this tournament,” he said.
With the victory the 2012 NCGA Player of the Year now deeply cements his legacy in NCGA amateur golf. It almost may not have occurred as Geyer originally had hoped to be playing in the U.S. Amateur this week, but the day after his Stroke Play victory a month ago, the Arbuckle native failed to qualify the next day at Del Rio CC. Amazingly though, thinking he had gone out on top once already, adding another title to go out on top again makes things twice as nice.
“To [win both events] is really special and a nice way to go out,” said Geyer, who plans to go professional in the coming weeks.
The 21-year-old’s victory started off by halving the first seven holes with Morgan, before things quickly turned into Geyer’s favor. On the eighth hole Morgan hit his tee shot down the right and was obstructed by some trees on his second shot, forcing him to layup 30 yards short of the green to take bogey. Geyer on the other hand made a two-putt-par from 30 feet from the back fringe to take a 1-up lead, which he never relinquished and instead built on.
The Arbuckle native won the next three holes (Nos. 9, 10 and 11) with two pars and a birdie to take a 4-up lead, rolling in the first birdie of the day between the two competitors on the par-5 11th. Morgan briefly cut Geyer’s lead to 3-up with a two-putt birdie on No. 14, but a wedge to three-feet on the par-3 15th and an up-and-down par from the bunker on No. 16 gave Geyer a 5-up lead, which he would take into the afternoon round.
“[Winning Nos. 8-11] just really freed me up and I was able to keep trying to make more birdies and trying to hit it close to put pressure on my opponent,” said Geyer.
Morgan, who had trailed for all of two holes in his four matches combined, found himself in an unfamiliar spot. As frustrated as the redshirt freshman at Cal might have been losing those four holes, Morgan tried not to let it deter him and kept fighting on.
“You never want to play from behind, but I was optimistic I knew it was a long day,” said Morgan.
The day continued to get longer for Morgan over the second 18 when Geyer made birdie on the par-4 second to increase his lead to 6-up. It looked as if Morgan might still have a chance when a peculiar situation happened on the par-4 sixth that cut Geyer’s lead to 4-up, losing the sixth and seventh holes only seconds apart.
After a plugged shot in the bunker, Geyer failed to extract the ball out on his first attempt and barely got it out on his second attempt. With Morgan getting his third shot within a foot of the cup for a conceded par cutting the match status to 5-up, Geyer took a practice bunker shot in violation of the Rules of Golf. The penalty was loss of the next hole, cutting the lead to 4-up, having the players skip the seventh hole and go onto the eighth. But just as No. 8 was the turning point in the morning 18, it was again in the afternoon as Geyer sank a 15-foot birdie putt, while Morgan subsequently missed a birdie putt from a similar length, giving Geyer a 5-up lead. Trading holes with birdies on the 10th and 11th, the two players then halved the next three holes with Geyer winning the match 5-and-4 on the par-5 14th hole.
Geyer spoke highly of Spyglass Hill GC calling it his favorite course, and was grateful for the help his collegiate coach, St. Mary’s Scott Hardy, over the past few years. He also mentioned how NCGA tournaments have been a big help in his career and made him a better player. Above all though, Geyer was most grateful for the support of his family as more than a dozen people were out following his match. Family is so important in fact that Geyer hopes to make it through Q-School so he can have a home-base in Northern California and not have to move to Florida or Arizona for a mini-tour circuit.
“Hopefully I’ll stay in Arbuckle for sure if I get to the Web.com Tour,” he said.
August 15, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – A day and half after 32 players had a chance to win the 110th Annual NCGA Amateur Championship at Spyglass Hill GC now there are only two. Ben Geyer and Andrew Morgan will face off Friday beginning at 7 a.m. in a 36-hole match to determine the 2013 champion in what looks to be a promising final.
Geyer, the No. 13 seed, playing in the first semifinal match of the afternoon at 12:30 p.m. squared off against medalist and No. 1 seed Alex Franklin, who has displayed a great prowess at Spyglass over the previous three days. However, a couple mistakes by Franklin along with a couple of birdies by Geyer turned the match into Geyer’s favor to win by a 4-and-3 margin. Geyer who was 1-down after five holes won four consecutive holes with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, and pars on Nos. 8 and 9 to go 3-up. After failing to get up-and-down on No. 12 cutting his lead to 2-up, Geyer made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to go dormie-4 and close out the match on the 15th.
The Arbuckle native, who made it to 36-hole final of the 2012 California State Amateur Championship, won’t be leaning on that experience for tomorrow’s match, but instead hopes his putter continues to carry him throughout his matches.
“To have a hot putter is really nice, when I do putt well I’m usually in contention,” said Geyer.
In the second semifinal match all 18 holes were needed to determine a winner as No. 11 seed Andrew Morgan defeated 10th-seeded Corey Pereira 1-up. Morgan, who had yet to trail in any of his three matches, finally experienced his first deficit when he lost No. 8 with a double-bogey. Luckily for the 19-year-old the moment was ephemeral as he quickly squared the match back up when Pereira bogeyed the 10th, and recaptured the lead with a par on the 15th. From there all the Long Beach native needed to close out the match was three straight pars.
“I knew it was going to be a really good match because Corey is a great player, so I knew it would come down to the last hole,” said Morgan.
One thing the two players have had in common in each of their respective four matches thus far is that both players have been playing out in front of their opponents the past two days. Geyer, who trailed early in his round of 32 match, took early leads in his other three matches, while Morgan has taken a 1-up lead after the first hole in all four of his matches.
Geyer remembers getting down early in all of his California State Amateur matches in 2012, and realizes the uphill battle it can present by getting down early.
“I don’t lose badly it seems [when I get down early], but I’m fighting uphill. It’s nice to get an early lead because you feel that you have house money that you can play with a little bit,” said Geyer.
Despite his impressive starts thus far, Morgan, who is a redshirt freshman at Cal, is more focused on the match as a whole.
“No matter what the start is you have to keep plugging away and keep grinding,” said Morgan.
As both competitors know the finish is more important than the start as only one can be crowned the 2013 NCGA Amateur Match Play Champion.
Quarterfinal matches took place Thursday morning at Spyglass Hill GC with three of the four matches ending early and only one match going the full 18 holes.
The match to go the distance was the third match out at 7:30 a.m., which featured 18-year-old Pereira and 17-year-old Sebastian Crampton. Pereira looked to be following suit with the other matches as he took a 3-up lead after nine holes, winning Nos. 5, 6 and 9. After halving the next four holes, Crampton finally won a hole, making par on the par-5 14th, while Pereira bogeyed. Similarly on No. 16 Pereira erred again by making bogey, while Crampton made par cutting his lead 1-up. After trading birdies on the 17th to halve the hole, both players made par on the 18th allowing Pereira, the current NCGA Junior Champion, to advance by a 1-up margin.
In the first match out at 7:00 a.m., Franklin advanced beating No. 24 seed Cody Robinson 3-and-2. Franklin captured a 3-up lead early by winning Nos. 3, 4 and 5, which gave him enough cushion to fend off a couple charges by Robinson, who twice cut the lead to 1-up, but couldn’t get any closer.
In the second match out, Geyer beat mid-amateur and No. 5 seed Jeff Murphy 4-and-3, by only losing one hole all day. The two competitors halved the first six holes, and then traded holes with Geyer winning No. 7 and Murphy winning No. 8. Geyer, the 2012 and ’13 NCGA Stroke Play Champion, then won Nos. 9 and 10 to take a 2-up lead, and shortly thereafter won Nos. 14 and 15 to close out the match.
The final match of the morning at 7:45 a.m. was the largest margin-of-victory of the four as Morgan beat Ryan Knop 6-and-5. Morgan had yet to trail in a match and it looked like he very may well once again never get a match re-squared once he won the first hole again for his third straight match. However, after winning the first hole Knop won the second hole with a birdie re-squaring it briefly before a Morgan regained his lead by winning No. 3. From there on out the 19-year-old would only lose one more hole No. 5, while winning six others (Nos. 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12) to close out the match on the 13th hole.
August 14, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – After the rounds of 32 and 16 at the 110th Annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill, only eight players are left, and surprisingly enough, the player arguably playing the best golf is the lowest seed remaining.
Cody Robinson, the No. 24 seed, won both his matches with considerable ease on Wednesday, winning his first match over No. 9 seed Austin Weatherholt 4-and-2, and his afternoon match against No. 25 seed Matt Cohn 4-and-3. In short, the Discovery Bay resident played only 31 holes, the only player remaining in the field who didn’t have to play the 17th and 18th holes.
“I just have been focusing on playing my own game, I’m not really thinking about what other guys are scoring” said the 22-year-old.
The rising senior at St. Mary’s College had five birdies and an eagle over his two matches and hopes to continue to hit fairways giving himself scoring opportunities on Thursday. He also hopes he’s fortunate enough to not have any matches come down to the wire.
“I feel like if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be pretty set,” he said.
Robinson’s quarterfinal opponent on Thursday only gets tougher as he squares off against medalist and No. 1 seed Alex Franklin at 7:15 a.m. The San Rafael resident had a grind-it-out match Wednesday morning against No. 32 seed Jordan Weir, winning the match on the 18th hole with a par. In his round of 16 match, Franklin had a much easier time beating Austin Roberts 5-and-3, never trailing once in the match after winning the fourth hole.
Also playing extremely well, having only played 31 holes on Wednesday is No. 10 seed Corey Pereira. The 18-year-old had what seemed more like a semifinal match in the morning, going up against 17-year-old Maverick McNealy, the No. 23 seed. Pereira advanced there winning 2-and-1, and then cruised in the afternoon beating 18-year-old Cameron Champ 6-and-5.
Matching up against Pereira in the quarterfinals at 7:30 a.m. is another teenager, 17-year-old Sebastian Crampton, the No. 18 seed. The Pacific Grove resident didn’t have to see the 18th hole on Wednesday winning his morning match against No. 15 seed Joe Huston 4-and-2, and then beating the No. 2 seed Jonathan De Los Reyes 3-and-1.
Crampton has made a nice progression in the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship over the past couple years, making it to the round of 16 in 2011 and the quarterfinals in 2012. This year he hopes to continue that progression by winning his Thursday morning match, but knows he has a tough task ahead of him.
“I’d like to do it, but I have to take it one match at a time, and Corey [Pereira] is a [great] player,” he said.
The first match out Thursday morning at 7 a.m. features No. 5 seed Jeff Murphy against two-time NCGA Stroke Play Champion Ben Geyer, the No. 13 seed. Murphy’s day consisted of matches that went to the 16th and 17th holes, beating No. 28 seed Keelan Kilpatrick 2-and-1 in the morning, and No. 22 seed Taylor Hobin 3-and-2 in the afternoon.
At 26-years-old, Murphy is the oldest remaining player left in the field, and the only hope for a mid-amateur to repeat. Having recently gotten his amateur status back within the last 18 months or so, Murphy has been enjoying his transition back into amateur golf. The only thing on the Pleasant Hill resident’s mind after Wednesday’s matches was recharging for another day of golf.
“I just want to get a good night’s sleep, I’m tired, it’s been a long day,” said Murphy.
Geyer feels extremely fortunate to be in the quarterfinals, when it looked like he very may well have been out of it. After beating former college teammate Alex Bungert in the morning 2-and-1, Geyer’s round of 16 match with No. 4 seed Cody Blick came down to the 18th hole.
Going into No. 18 all square after being 2 down through 13 holes, Geyer short-sided himself in the bunker left of the 18th green, while Blick was 30 feet away on the green for birdie. After Geyer hit his bunker shot to four feet, Blick’s slick downhill putt went past the hole and down a tier to leave himself with a 25-foot par putt coming back. Once Blick missed his par putt, Geyer calmly knocked in his par putt to win the match 1-up.
“I got fortunate that he three-putted,” said Geyer. “It was a huge relief to have that change of emotion to think you’re probably going home, and then have it so you’re actually going to win the hole.”
The final quarterfinal match on Thursday at 7:45 a.m. pairs No. 19 seed Ryan Knop with No. 11 seed Andrew Morgan. Knop had a fairly easy time in his morning match beating Daniel Butcher 4-and-3, taking the lead after the first hole and never relinquishing it. Then in his afternoon match the 16-year-old beat out one of the pre-tournament favorites, No. 3 seed Matt Hansen 3-and-2.
Similarly, Morgan took out top players of his own, first taking out defending champion Jake Yount in the morning by a 2-up margin, and then beating No. 6 seed Josh Stone 4-and-3. The 19-year-old was very impressive winning the first hole in both of his matches and never having a match square up once.
The four players to survive their quarterfinal matches will play Thursday afternoon at 12:30 or 12:45 respectively, with the winner of those two matches qualifying for the final. The 36-hole final will take place Friday beginning at 7:00 a.m.
August 13, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – The bracket is set for the 110th Annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship as qualifying wrapped up Tuesday at Spyglass Hill GC. Ironically, the first person off the golf course on Tuesday, Alex Franklin, captured medalist honors and the No. 1 seed, while the last person to hit a shot at Spyglass on Tuesday, Jordan Weir, earned the No. 32 seed winning the final spot in a sudden-death playoff that had six players competing for two spots. The two will square off Wednesday at 8:10 a.m.
Franklin, who competed in the first group out Tuesday morning, seized the early 36-hole clubhouse lead, which never changed hands as scores came in. Franklin fired a three-under-par 69 in his second round complementing his opening round of 71 nicely, for a 140, four-under-par total. The 21-year-old has been pleased with his game thus far and credits his exceptional play to staying out of trouble.
“I never really put myself in a bad position today,” he said. “I just kept the ball in play, put the ball on the green and had a lot of two-putt pars. Really, I just didn’t have too many stressful pars.”
Starting out with seven straight pars, Franklin finally saw a change on his scorecard with a birdie on No. 8 and a bogey on No. 9 for an even-par 36. Then on the back nine, the San Rafael resident opened with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 and finished with a birdie on the 18th for a bogey-free 33.
With match play beginning tomorrow and the top-seed in tow, the incoming junior at Oregon State doesn’t look to change his game plan too much and mainly hopes to continue to hit the ball well.
“If I play the way in match play I’ve been playing the last few days, it’s going to be pretty good because I’ve been hitting a lot of greens and fairways,” he said.
Earning the second overall seed is Jonathan De Los Reyes, who finished tied for second place at 141, three-under-par with Matt Hansen. Beginning the day alone in second after opening with a four-under-par 68, De Los Reyes followed up with a one-over-par 73, which included two bogeys and one birdie. Hansen, who finished shortly after the 19-year-old, followed his opening round of 70 with a 71. The rising senior at UC-Davis scored four birdies in his round to go along with three bogeys.
First-round leader Cody Blick couldn’t muster up the same magic he produced on Monday, but the 19-year-old played well enough to finish alone in fourth place at 142, two-under-par to earn the No. 4 seed. The soon-to-be sophomore at San Jose State followed his five-under-par 67 with a three-over-par 75, which included two birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.
Two other players finished 36 holes with an under-par score as Jeff Murphy of Pleasant Hill and Josh Stone of Stockton each posted a 143, one-under-par. Murphy, who competed in the morning wave fired rounds of 72 and 71 to earn the fifth seed, while Stone, who played in the afternoon wave, had reversed scoring compared to Murphy, shooting rounds of 71 and 72.
The round of 32 will take place Wednesday morning beginning at 7:00 a.m. with the No. 12 seed Eric Taylor facing the 21st seed Taylor Hobin. The final match of the morning will conclude at 9:30 a.m., which features defending champion Jake Yount as the No. 22 seed. Players lucky enough to survive the morning will compete in the round of 16 with matches beginning at 1:00 p.m. and concluding at 2:24 p.m.
LAST MEN STANDING: At the conclusion of Tuesday’s round, with 37 players at 149 or better, a playoff was needed to determine the final two spots among seven remaining players. The playoff began at 6:50 p.m. with only six players participating as Connor Lawrence no-showed. It quickly looked as if nobody wanted the final spots as pressure got to the players when all six bogeyed the first playoff hole (No. 10). Then after a few missed par putts within 15 feet of the hole on No. 9 (the second playoff hole), Evan McLeod sank a six-footer for par, while Weir made his three-foot par moments later to tie up all loose ends, shortly after 7:30 p.m.
August 12, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – After the first round of the 110th Annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship Cody Blick holds a one-shot lead. Blick, 19, fired a five-under-par 67 on Monday, which included seven birdies and a pair of bogeys on the day.
Starting off his round with a bogey early on No. 2, the sophomore-to-be at San Jose State birdied Nos. 4 and 7 to make the turn with a 35. Things then heated up on the back nine as he made five birdies in a six-hole stretch. After not converting birdies on two of the more benign holes Spyglass has to offer (Nos. 10 and 11), Blick reeled off four consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-15. A bogey on No. 16 derailed him briefly, but the Danville native recovered nicely birdieing No. 17 to come in with a 32.
“On No. 11 I missed a short birdie putt and that really just kind of got me angry, so the next hole I stuffed it and that led to four birdies in a row,” he said.
Blick, who made it to the quarterfinals of his first California State Amateur Championship earlier this summer, is again off to a superb start in his NCGA Amateur Match Play debut. Having only played Spyglass Hill GC twice before going into the day’s round, the 19-year-old was able to take advantage of solid ball-striking, which included hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation.
“I think that’s the key out here is ball-striking; leaving yourself in the right spot,” said Blick.
Not far behind Blick and currently in second place at four-under-par 68 is another 19-year-old, Jonathan De Los Reyes. The Antioch native made five birdies and one bogey in his round getting off to a very nice start. The rising sophomore at St. Mary’s College opened with birdies on Nos. 2, 6 and 7 to make the turn at 33. Birdies followed on both of the back-nine par-5s, Nos. 11 and 14, to get to five-under-par, but a dropped shot on No. 18, his only bogey of the day, gave him a 68.
Tied for third at two-under-par 70 are two players who also competed in the morning wave, Matt Hansen of Los Osos and Connor Lawrence of San Jose. Lawrence had a circuitous way to get to 70, making a birdie early in his round on No. 4 before three bogeys in the middle (Nos. 6, 8 and 10), followed by an eagle (No. 11) and two birdies (Nos. 12 and 14) for a strong finish.
Hansen held the early clubhouse lead with the first under-par score posted, scoring four birdies and two bogeys. Starting with a birdie on the par-5 first, the senior-to-be at UC-Davis bogeyed No. 8 for an even-par 36. Then on the back nine Hansen got some momentum with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, before trading a bogey on No. 14 with a birdie on No. 17. A semifinalist in this year’s California State Amateur Championship, Hansen was pleased with his effort, but is focused solely on making the match play field.
“Really the goal is just to make it to match play, it doesn’t matter how well you shoot [in qualifying], you just want to get there,” said Hansen.
The low score of the afternoon wave was a one-under-par 71, posted by four players (Nick Sako, Andrew Morgan, Michael Tolladay and Alex Franklin). Three other players shot the same score in the morning wave (Austin Roberts, Cameron Champ and Josh Stone), making for a total of seven players tied for fifth place at one-under-par 71.
Four players shot even-par 72, while nine players fired rounds of one-over-par 73 including current NCGA Junior Champion Corey Pereira and current NCGA Stroke Play Champion Ben Geyer. Thirteen players are at two-over-par 74 including multiple NCGA champion Scott Hardy and current Pacific Coast Amateur Champion Tyler Raber.
Currently 37 players are two-over-par or better, meaning the projected cut for Tuesday is likely to fall at 148 or 149. At the conclusion of Tuesday’s round the field will be cut to the top 32 scores for match play on Wednesday. A physical sudden-death playoff will occur to determine the final spots if necessary.
Notable players currently on the outside looking in include three 2012 NCGA Amateur Match Play stalwarts at three-over-par 75: defending champion Jake Yount, runner-up Eric Ash and semifinalist Maverick McNealy. At four-over-par 76 is six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag, while current NCGA Public Links Champion Nick Moore is at six-over-par 78.
Amateur Match Play Preview
August 8, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
PEBBLE BEACH – Jake Yount defied the odds last year when he became the first mid-amateur in more than a decade to win the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship. With the 110th edition beginning on Monday, Yount will once again attempt to defy the odds and become only the 11th back-to-back champion. His quest for a successful title defense begins at 1:12 p.m. off the No. 1 tee.
While recent history would indicate a repeat champion is not too far-fetched (see John Catlin 2010 and ’11), the 26-year-old will have his work cut out for him as consecutive back-to-back champions have only occurred twice. This year’s field also offers a robust group besides losing players such as 2013 California State Amateur stalwarts Cory McElyea (champion), Bryson DeChambeau (runner-up) and Pace Johnson (semifinalist) to the U.S. Amateur Championship.
The odds-on favorite based off the World Amateur Golf Ranking is Corey Pereira, who checks in at No. 86. in the world. The 18-year-old from Cameron Park has already had a spectacular summer which has included co-medalist honors at the California State Amateur and an NCGA Junior Championship title. The incoming freshman at the University of Washington will tee off No. 10 Monday at 12:19 p.m.
Another player who would have to be considered a favorite based off his prowess at NCGA events is Ben Geyer. The 21-year-old, who had hoped to be playing in the U.S. Amateur this coming week, looked as if he’d be ending his NCGA amateur career with a second consecutive victory at the Stroke Play Championship last month. However, after failing to qualify for the U.S. Amateur the next day, Geyer finds himself in the field of 156 and a chance to do something that has only been done twice before and last occurred 51 years ago by John Lotz: winning the Stroke Play Championship and Match Play Championship in the same year. With a victory Geyer would also likely be on his way to a second consecutive NCGA Player of the Year. The recent St. Mary’s graduate will tee off No. 1 Monday at 8:42 a.m.
Other players to keep a keen eye on are Matt Hansen, Tyler Raber and Nick Moore. Hansen made it to the semifinals of the California State Amateur Championship in June, Raber recently won the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur Championship in July and Moore, the current NCGA Public Links Champion, made a quarterfinals run in the California State Amateur this summer. Hansen will tee off No. 1 Monday at 7:39 a.m. with Raber following in the group behind at 7:48 a.m., while Moore tees off No. 10 at 8:06 a.m.
NOTABLES: Besides these top-ranked amateurs others in the field include players with previous NCGA Amateur Match Play success including a pair of past champions. Randy Haag (1992, ’93) and Jeff Gilchrist (1995) each have won the event previously and will start in opposite waves respectively with Haag teeing off No. 10 at 7:48 a.m. and Gilchrist at 1:21 p.m. off No. 1. Last year’s runner-up, 20-year-old Eric Ash returns to the event, going off No. 1 at 9:00 a.m., along with quarterfinalists Maverick McNealy (No. 10, 1:30 p.m.), Scott Hardy (No. 1, 12:18 p.m.) and Sebastian Crampton (No. 1, 1:48 p.m.).
The championship will commence Monday at 7:30 a.m. with the afternoon wave beginning at 12:00 p.m.