July 8, 2014
San Jose resident Justin Suh continued his torrid play, while Marina resident Jessica Fore’s hot round was enough to claim the title.
Suh shot a final round 1-over 73 to finish at 1-under 215, the only player under par for all three rounds, and Fore posted a 69 to come in at even par 144 as the pair won the NCGA Junior Championship Boys’ and Girls’ titles, respectively, at par-72 Spyglass Hill Golf Course on Tuesday.
For Suh, a senior at Evergreen Valley High, the win continued what has been an amazing summer. He finished the school year with a win at the CIF Boys’ State Championship, and quickly followed that up with a win at the Santa Clara County Championship. The 17-year-old also advanced to match play at the recent California State Amateur Championship.
He’ll now get his name on the Nelson Cullenward Trophy, joining the likes of Johnny Miller, Bobby Clampett and Ken Venturi as former NCGA Junior champions.
“It feels great. Having my name in there with those guys is validation,” said Suh, who plans on playing at USC starting in 2015. “They were playing great at the same point, and they obviously went on to bigger things.”
It took a comeback for Suh to win, too. Having entered the final round a stroke behind Derek Ackerman, by the time the two reached the tee at No.11, Suh trailed Ackerman by three. But that’s when things began to change.
On the the par-5 11th, Suh reached the green with driver and 7-iron. His 7-iron approach landed 21 feet from the pin, and he’d go on to make the putt for eagle to cut Ackerman’s lead to one.
An Ackerman birdie on the 12th again made it a two stroke difference, but Suh cut into the deficit with a birdie on the 14th after he stuck his wedge shot to within two feet of the flagstick.
“I’ve had experience where I’ve come back. The thing is to not give up,” Suh said. “After the eagle I was like, ‘Yeah I can do this.'”
While still leading by one, it all unraveled for Ackerman on the tough 16th. The Sacred Heart Prep senior tried to cut the corner with his drive and instead found the trees on the right. He’d eventually punch out but was left with a triple-bogey. From there, Suh never gave up the lead.
“I just had one bad hole,” said Ackerman, who carded a 76 to finish tied for second at 217, two behind Suh. “Other than that, I hit the ball well. I just couldn’t make any putts.”
As for his recent run of success, Suh pointed to pals Carlos Briones and Joe Bramlett and San Jose Country Club head pro Shaun McCarty. Suh regularly plays with Briones (and Bramlett when he’s healthy) at San Jose CC.
“The support and vibes I get from those guys carries over to the golf course,” Suh said. “I can feel it. I’m really confident with my game right now.”
Also finishing at 217 was Roseville’s Corey Eddings, who had a final round 73. Fourth place went to Gold River’s Alexander Lee, who shot 74 to come in at 218.
Fore also got the win courtesy of some big shots. The recent Monte Vista Christian School grad posted four birdies with just one bogey to win by four strokes over defending champion Samantha Hutchison.
On each of her four birdies, Fore knocked in putts from over 10 feet.
“I imagined the putts and they all did exactly what I wanted them to do,” Fore said.
For Fore, the win could be a huge boon in her future plans. While she’s already been accepted to Cal Berkeley, she is not currently a member of the Bears’ women’s golf team. She plans on changing that by either trying to walk-on or red-shirting. The more attention she can get by winning, the better her chances.
“I’m trying to get good results to show the Cal coach,” Fore said. “This helps.”
In last year’s championship, Fore had an opening round 87. Since then, she’s just 2-over in three rounds (including a second round 74 last year) at Spyglass Hill.
One of those who took notice of Fore’s play was Hutchison. Trying to become the first repeat girls’ champion in over 25 years, Hutchison put up a 73 to place second at 148, four strokes behind Fore. In winning last year, Hutchison shot 152.
“I can’t complain. I played better than last year,” said Hutchison, a senior at Pioneer High. “Jessica played really, really well.”
Finishing third in the Girls’ championship at 150 was Concord’s Yealimi Noh. The recent California Junior Girls’ State Championship winner had a final round 74.
Vallejo’s Maria Davis and San Jose’s Quynn Duong finished tied for fourth at 144 after rounds of 77 and 80, respectively.
In the Boys’ 14-15 division, Ryan Grauman of Alamo shot 74 to finish at 8-over 224 and win by three over Thomas Hutchison, who had a final round 80.
The Boys’ 13-under division saw Brendan Hy of San Ramon come out on top. Hy shot a 71 to finish at even par 144, three shots better than runner-up Brian Ma of Milpitas, who had a 73 to come in at 147.
July 7, 2014
The annual NCGA Junior Championship is unfolding just as one would expect it to. Things are tight, and it’s going to come down to the final round.
In the Boys’ 16-18 Championship, not even 36 holes could separate the leader. Derek Ackerman, who hails from Half Moon Bay, jumped into the lead Monday at par-72 Spyglass Hill by posting rounds of 70-71 to finish the long day in the lead at 3-under 141. Just a stroke behind Ackerman is San Jose’s Justin Suh, who fired rounds of 72-70 for a total of 142.
Ackerman, a senior at Sacred Heart Prep, had six birdies in the first round–all coming back-to-back–to counter four bogeys. In his second round, Ackerman, who advanced to this year’s CIF Boys’ State Championships, was more steady, posting two birdies to go with one bogey and 15 pars.
On Ackerman’s heels is the red hot Suh. Suh, who won the CIF Boys’ State Individual crown and followed that up with a win at the Santa Clara County Championship, was solid in both of his rounds. Over his 36 holes, the Evergreen Valley High senior and 2013 Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year penciled in six birdies and 26 pars with just four bogeys.
Both Ackerman and Suh have company, too. Sitting in a tie for third at 144, just three off the lead, are Roseville resident Corey Eddings and Gold River’s Alexander Lee.
Following a first rounds 72 that featured two birdies and a double-bogey on the par-4 10th, Eddings was a bit more all over the place in the second round, carding a double-bogey and four bogeys in his second round. He’d offset the miscues, however, with an eagle on No.1 and four other birdies.
Lee, who has three wins on the JTNC circuit this season, was the definition of consistent. In both of his rounds of 72, Lee had three birdies and three bogeys.
There’s a lot to still be settled in the Girls’ Championship too.
Three players–Jessica Fore, Quynn Duong and defending champion Samantha Hutchison–are tied atop the leaderboard after posting identical 3-over 75’s.
Fore, who’s from nearby Marina, had three birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-4 10th. Duong, who hails from San Jose, had a birdie to fo with four bogeys. Hutchison, winner of the recent Junior Golf Association of Northern California Fresno City Junior Amateur. carded a pair of birdies to go with five bogeys.
With a win, Hutchison would join Jamille rose (1988-1989) as the only girls to win back-to-back titles.
Concord resident Yealimi Noh, winner of the recent California Junior Girls’ State Championship, is just a stroke back after an opening 76. The Concord resident had two birdies but also had four bogeys and a double-bogey on the 16th.
Maria Davis of Vallejo, who’s coming off a win at the Junior Tour of Northern California Summer Series III Championship, is just three behind after a 78. San Jose resident Sabrina Iqbal, currently the leader in the JTNC Girls’ points standings, is at 79 along with Stephanie Yu and Kimberly Liu.
Things are tight in the Boys’ 13-under division as well. There, San Ramon resident Brendan Hy took the first round lead with a solid 1-over 73 that included four birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey on the 16th.
Right behind Ly at 74, just a stroke back, are Milpitas resident Brian Ma and Pleasanton’s Drew Kim. Starting on the back-nine, Ma was 1-under through his first six holes before a crucial triple-bogey on the 16th. Kim had two birdies but was slowed by a double-bogey on No.10.
Ma won both the JTNC Spring Series V and VIII First Flight titles. Kim captured the Spring Series IV First Flight crown.
Also in the mix is San Jose’s Sebastian Iqbal, who posted a 75 that included two birdies and five bogeys. Iqbal currently holds the No.4 spot in the JTNC Boys’ points standings race for Player of the Year.
The Boys’ 14-15 division is also jammed up. In the Boys’ 14-15 division, which also played 36 holes on Monday, San Francisco’s Charles Porter and Thomas Hutchison of San Jose are knotted at the top at 3-over 147.
Hutchison had three birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey over his two rounds (74-73). Porter opened with a shaky 78 but rebounded with a stellar 69 that featured six birdies to go with three bogeys.
Tuesday’s second rounds will also be held at Spyglass Hill.
July 2, 2014
It could be called the Masters for juniors in Northern California.
When the annual NCGA Junior Championship gets underway Monday at Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach, the fields for both the Girls’ and Boys’ championships will be chock full of players who have already collected some big wins this season.
Some of the names in what should be a highly competitive Boys’ 16-18 division include Justin Suh, Joshua McCarthy, William Brueckner and Ryan Knop. In the Girls’ Championship, meanwhile, there’s defending champion Samantha Hutchison, Yealimi Noh and Sabrina Iqbal.
And that’s just a sample of the junior stars which are slated to compete.
Suh, who hails from San Jose, will enter the championship on a roll. In June alone, the 2013 Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year won the Individual title at the CIF State Boys’ Championship and the Santa Clara County Championship. Other achievements were reaching match play at the California State Amateur and finishing as medalist at the recent U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier at Stanford GC.
McCarthy, meanwhile, will come in holding the No.1 spot in this year’s JTNC points standings. Among McCarthy’s victories this season are wins at the JTNC Spring Series V and Summer Series I Championships and another in the American Junior Golf Association Junior at Lone Tree.
Brueckner and Knop are coming off stellar runs at the California State Amateur. Knop, who finished as runner-up to Corey Pereira in last year’s NCGA Junior, made it to the quarterfinals before being knocked out by Paul Smith. Brueckner also advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Matt Hansen.
For Hutchison, the event will be a sweet homecoming. Last year, the San Jose resident held on to win by two strokes over Amanjoty Sangha.
“My heart was racing. I was nervous but I pulled through,” Hutchison said. “It really means a lot. It’s something I can look back on.”
Her success last year has carried over. Following her victory at Spyglass Hill, Hutchison went on to win the JTNC Fall Series III Championship. She also picked up a win at the recent Junior Golf Association of Northern California Fresno City Junior Amateur.
As per players coming in hot, there’s also Noh and Iqbal. Noh just won the annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, joining LPGA Tour member Christina Kim as former winners of the event. Iqbal, on the other hand, currently holds the No.1 spot in the JTNC Girls’ Points Standings for Player of the Year honors. Since last August, Iqbal has racked up five victories on the JTNC circuit.
Along with the Boys’ 16-18 and Girls’ divisions, there’ll also be competition in the Boys’ 14-15 division and Boys’ 13-under division.
Former winners of the championships include Ken Venturi, Bobby Clampett, Matt Bettencourt and Joel Kribel. Former winners of the Girls’ Championship include Kim Cathrein and Dorothy Delasin.
On Monday, play will be held in each of the divisions, with the Boys’ 16-18 and Boys’ 14-15 divisions playing 36-holes. Tuesday’s play will consist of each division playing 18 holes.