September 18, 2014
Trevor Clayton knew exactly what was at stake, and he came through.
Clayton, who lives in Fresno, shot a final round 1-under Thursday at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park, wrapping up not only the NCGA Valley Amateur Championship title, but also NCGA Player of the Year honors. The 20-year-old, who is red-shirting this year and will begin attending Fresno State in the fall of 2015, finished the 36-hole championship with a total of 11-under 133, defeating runner-up Jeff Hoffman by four strokes.
“It feels really good to win,” said Clayton, who is attending Fresno City College this year after leaving CSU Stanislaus. “I didn’t win anything this summer and I put in a lot of work. So this feels good.”
In winning the title, Clayton also took over the top spot in the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors. The win boosted Clayton to 1, 317 points. Matthew Seramin, winner of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, did not play in the Valley Am. Jason Anthony, who was second in the points race, finished in a tie for fifth. Anthony, playing in his last event of the season, had to finish at least within the top three to win the crown.
This weekend’s Mountain View City Championship is a 50 point event. The LasPo Open the following (and final) weekend of the season is a 100 point event. Even if Seramin was to win both events, he wouldn’t catch Clayton.
“The points title is a bonus,” said Clayton, who took control of the Valley Am with a course record tying 10-under 62 on Wednesday. “It’s a validation of all the work I put in.”
Anthony, who shot 73 to finish at 142, had nothing but praise for the up and coming 20-year-old Clayton.
“I’m happy for him,” Anthony said. “He earned it. He’s going to be a fantastic player.”
Clayton really did have to toil for the win, too. Despite his 62, which gave him a five stroke lead over Zachary Solomon coming into the finale, he fell two strokes behind Hoffman after carding a triple-bogey on the 12th, the result of a plugged lie in the greenside bunker.
At the time, Hoffman, who shot a 68 to finish at 137, was coming off a birdie on the 11th that got him to a total of 8-under.
On the 13th, Hoffman made bogey while Clayton saved par after sinking a slippery 5-footer. A hole later, the momentum all came back to Clayton.
On the 306-yard 14th, Hoffman made par, while Clayton drove the green and sank his putt for eagle. On both the 15th and 16th, Clayton penciled in two more birdies, putting him back in control for good.
“After the triple bogey on 12 I was like, ‘What, I’m behind?’ The eagle got me back together,” Clayton said.
In shooting his first round 62, which is one of the low NCGA championship rounds ever, if not the lowest, Clayton was actually paired with players competing in the Senior portion of the championship.
“I got off to a hot start,” Clayton said. “I just told myself to keep hitting greens and the putts just kept falling.”
His 62 quickly became legendary. Rumors circulated that he’d driven it through the green on the 393-yard par-4 10th. It never happened.
“That’s a cool story, but that’s not what happened at all,” Clayton said with a laugh.
Solomon, playing out of Ancil Hoffman GC, placed third at 139 after carding a 72. Finishing tied for fourth with Anthony at 142 was Michael Tolladay, who shot a 72.
Defending champion Nick Moore of Seaside came in tied for seventh, shooting 144.
Valley Am Senior Championship
Once one of the top amateurs in the U.S., Joey Ferrari’s life took a detour when he was sent to prison for possession of drugs.
He’s since turned the page, and is on his way back.
Playing is his first tournament since being released from a Federal Correction Institution in Lompoc–where he spent nearly 16 years–Ferrari started what he hopes to be a new chapter in his life, carding a 1-under 71 to come from behind and win the NCGA Senior Valley Amateur Championship at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park. The Stockton resident finished the 36-hole event with a score of 3-under 141, edging Tim Grunsky by a stroke.
“It’s wonderful to be back,” said Ferrari, who was released from prison last October. “I messed up and can’t take it back. It was a learning experience and changed my life. It took me going to jail to wise up.”
Having quit playing in 1997, right when the trouble really started, Ferrari had to a buy a new set of clubs after his release.
“Basically everything I had was gone,” Ferrari said.
At the Reserve, his new set came though. Now working as a car wash operator in Stockton, Ferrari made his big push with three straight birdies on holes No.14 through No.16. On the 14th, he sank a 20-footer, following that up with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 15th.
Having started the day three behind Grunsky, things didn’t go so well for Ferrari early on. On No.3, he mishit a tap-in for par, leading to a bogey.
“That was my wake up call,” said Ferrari, who lost in the finals of the 1993 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. “I told myself I had to get back to playing tournament golf.”
That he did.
Grunsky, who had opened with a 67, slipped back with a 75. On his front-nine, he’d shoot 2-over 38 with three bogeys and just one birdie. On the back-nine, he’d temporarily tie Ferrari at 4-under after making a birdie. While Ferrari bogeyed the 17th, Grunsky made double-bogey after hitting his drive into the water. The two both made par on the 18th.
Placing third at 143 was recent NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play champ Dan Bieber, who had a final round 73. David Ujihara, playing out of Atascadero GC, finished fourth at 144 after a 72.
September 17, 2014
Trevor Clayton got off to a record start, while Jason Anthony took another step closer to earning NCGA Player of the Year honors.
Clayton, who reached the Round of 16 at this year’s California State Amateur Championship, jumped to to the top of the leaderboard in Wednesday’s first round of the NCGA Valley Amateur Championship at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton, posting a course record tying 10-under 62. Josh Ramey previously held the course record.
Starting on the 10th tee, the sophomore at nearby CSU Stanislaus opened with a 6-under 30 that included an eagle on the 519-yard par-5 11th and birdies on holes No.10, No.13, No.16 and No.17. On his back-nine, Clayton continued to sizzle, adding another birdie on the 1st and running off five straight birdies from holes No.3 through No.7. The lone bump in the road for Clayton, who was the last player in the Championship flight to turn in his scorecard, was a double-bogey on the par-3 8th.
Before Clayton came in, the leader had been been Ancil Hoffman GC member Zachary Solomon.
Solomon, who resides in Sacramento and qualified for the recent U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, was solid, carding five birdies to go with zero bogeys. Starting on the back-nine, Solomon opened with a birdie on No.10 and followed that up with two birdies on the 12th and 15th holes. On his back-nine (the front), he’d tack on two more birdies on holes No.2 and No.7, good enough for second place.
Anthony, who entered the championship just 11 points behind Matthew Seramin (who’s not playing) in the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors, is tied with Jeff Hoffman at 69, seven behind Clayton.
How’s it all break down in the race for Player of the Year honors?
Coming into the event, Anthony had 1,071 points. Clayton was fifth at 817 points. The Valley Am is worth 500 points.
If Clayton wins, he’ll walk away from the event with 1,317 points. Anthony, meanwhile, would need to finish at least third (250 points) to maintain his lead. Should that scenario unfold, Anthony would leave leading the points race by four points.
In making his own move, Anthony, who plays out of Green Valley CC, also went bogey-free, posting birdies on holes No.2, No.11 and No.12.
Hoffman, playing out of Cameron Park CC, had a much more adventurous day. The winner of the 2012 NCGA Master Division Four-Ball title penciled in six birdies but also three bogeys. On each of his nines he’d card three birdies. Slowing his pace down on the front-nine were a pair of bogeys on holes No.3 and No.4.
Coming in with 70’s, and in a tie for fifth place, were three players–Michael Tolladay, Zach Smith and Sonny Freitas. Tolladay, who entered the championship holding the No.13 spot in the points race (644), couldn’t get going on his front-nine, carding a 1-over 37. On his back-nine, the former University of Pacific standout carded five birdies, including three straight on holes No.10 through No.12, to go with two bogeys.
Smith had seven birdies, including three straight on holes No.16 through No.18 to finish his round, while Freitas posted four birdies and two bogeys.
Defending champion Nick Moore of Seaside is tied with two players for eighth place after a first round 71.
Valley Am Senior
Stockton resident Tim Grunsky obviously felt right at home.
Grunsky, who plays out of nearby Stockton Golf and Country Club, took the lead in the NCGA Senior Valley Amateur Championship, posting a 5-under 67 Wednesday at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park.
Grunsky got going early, posting a front-nine 4-under 32 that featured five birdies and a bogey. On his back-nine, he’d run off three straight birdies on holes No.10 through No.12 to get to 7-under. He’d sandwich in another birdie on the 16th between a bogey on the 13th and consecutive bogeys on the 17th and 18th to finish his round.
In at 69, in a tie for second, are Herb Jensen and Ron Johnson. Jensen, who won the Vintage Super Senior Championship in August and the Senior Valley Am in 2009, had four birdies, including back-to-back birdies on holes No.5 and No.6, with just one bogey. Johnson, who won last year’s NCGA Super Senior Championship, penciled in five birdies and two bogeys. Starting on the back-nine, Johnson got off to a great start, making birdies on both the 11th and 12th to quickly get to 2-under.
Finishing with 70’s was four players, including NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship winner Dan Bieber and the guy he beat for the title, runner-up Terry Foreman. Bieber had four birdies but also slipped back with bogeys on the 14th and 15th. Foreman had three birdies and a bogey.
Four-time NCGA Player of the Year Casey Boyns, who’s in search of his first NCGA Valley Amateur title, is tied for eighth with two other players after coming in with a 71.
September 10, 2014
It’s the last major of the 2014 NCGA tournament season, and it will play a huge factor in the race for Player of the Year honors.
When the 11th annual NCGA Valley Amateur Championship gets underway Wednesday at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton, a door will open for Fairfield resident Jason Anthony.
But the same door will also open for some others.
As of September 10, Matthew Seramin, winner of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, had taken the lead in the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors with a total of 1,082 points. Right behind Seramin is Anthony, who’s at 1,071 points.
While Anthony is playing in the Valley Am, Seramin will not due to school obligations. Being a 500 point event, it’s a good bet that Anthony will finish high enough to jump past Seramin and claim the No.1 spot.
But Anthony, the winner of this year’s Fresno City Amateur Championship, isn’t the only one to keep an eye on.
Also in the field are Trevor Clayton, Austin Roberts, Michael Tolladay and Danny Paniccia.
Clayton, who plays at CSU Stanislaus, will enter the championship with 817 points thanks in part to reaching the Round of 16 at this year’s California State Amateur Championship. Roberts, the winner of this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship, is at 698 points.
Tolladay will come in with 644 points and Paniccia, who won this year’s NCGA Four-Ball Championship with partner Mike Stieler (their second straight Four-Ball crown) will enter with 642 points.
A win for any of those players could be enough to get to the top, but that depends on where Anthony finishes. Should Anthony play well, he should be a shoo in to win Player of the Year honors.
The last big tournament before the end of the season (Sept. 30) is the LasPo Open, slated for Sept. 27-28.
As for the Senior portion of the Valley Amateur, there’ll be no drama in regards to Senior Player of the Year honors. As of Sept. 10, Sunnyvale resident Jim Knoll, the reigning three-time Senior Player of the Year, was in line to earn his fourth straight honor with a total of 2,808 points. The next closest player was four-time NCGA Player of the Year Casey Boyns at 1,595 points.
Due to competing in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, Knoll will not play in the Valley Am. Nor will 2006 NCGA Senior Player of the Year Gary Vanier, six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag or 2012 Senior Valley Amateur champion Jeff Burda for the same reason.
Boyns is in, and he’ll have something to aim for. While the Monterey resident has won a slew of NCGA titles, one of those missing from his resume is a Valley Amateur crown.
Others to keep an eye on in the Senior championship include Neil Duffy, Mark Miller, Ralph Costanzo, Terry Foreman and Dan Bieber. Bieber defeated Foreman 1-up to win the NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship in August.
The defending champion of the Valley Amateur is Seaside resident Nick Moore. Last year, Moore shot 67-70 at Riverbend GC to finish at 7-under 137, easily winning by five strokes.
Vanier won last year’s Senior Valley Amateur title with a two-day total of 1-over 145, edging Boyns by a stroke.
The 36-hole, stroke play championships will begin with Wednesday’s first round, to be followed by the second round on Thursday.
The championship was played for the first time in 2004 as a replacement for the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley Championships.