June 3, 2014
It took extra holes to determine winners in two of the flights at the annual NCGA Senior Net Championship on Tuesday at par-72 Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey.
Chico resident Roberto Esparza won in a playoff to take top honors in the Chardonnay flight and Sacramento’s Fred Granados won in a sudden death playoff to win the Zinfandel flight, while Simon Tao of San Francisco cruised to victory in the Merlot flight.
Esparza, who plays out of Table Mountain GC, and Visalia GC member Matt Howard both finished regulation in the Chardonnay flight (11.0 handicap index or lower) tied at 2-under 142 following second round scores of 69 and 70, respectively.
In the playoff, which started on Del Monte’s par-4 10th, both Esparza and Howard opened with bogeys. Esparza took the title on the second hole of sudden death, No.11, when Howard carded a double-bogey to Esparza’s par.
“It feels fantastic to win,” said Esparza, a 60-year-old employee at Sierra Pacific Industries. “I didn’t think I’d do very well today. I had some good, fortuitous bounces. It was a lot of luck”
Esparza entered the final round four strokes behind first round leader and Course at Wente Vineyards member Dave Petersen, who had opened with a 69. With Petersen falling backwards to a 77, that opened the door for Esparza and Howard.
Coming off a 73 in the first round, Esparza, who was making his championship debut, went to work, carding an eagle on No.8 and five birdies–including back-to-back on holes No.14 and No.15–to go with just one bogey.
Howard, meanwhile, also took advantage of the opportunity. Having entered the day three behind Petersen, Howard tallied five birdies–going back-to-back on holes No.15 and No.16–to go with three bogeys to match Esparza through regulation.
Placing third in the Chardonnay flight was Saratoga CC member Tom Cook, who came in at 143 after rounds of 74-69. Taking fourth place was Lake Wildwood GC member Terry Thelan, who finished at 145 after a final round 73.
While Esparza had to fight through extra holes, Tao marched his way to the title in the Merlot flight (11.1 to 15.4 handicap index).
Also playing in the event for the first time, Tao was a force to be reckoned with. The Harding Park GC member followed up an opening round 68 with an even better 6-under 66 to finish at 134 and win by six shots over the rest of the Merlot field.
The 59-year-old marine engineer’s two-day total of 134 was the overall low in the event’s three flights.
“I just didn’t think anything,” Tao said. “I just took it one shot at a time both days. All of a sudden it was like, ‘Hey, I have a shot to win this thing.'”
While he wouldn’t have any eagles in Tuesday’s finale, Tao rang up eight birdies including a stretch of four in a row on holes No.10 through No.13. His only blips on the radar screen were a pair of closing bogeys on the 17th and 18th, but by then Tao’s lead was safe. Even though he wasn’t so sure of himself.
“I was kind of getting nervous those last few holes,” Tao said. “I wasn’t sure what everyone else was doing.”
Coming in second in the Merlot flight at 140 was Rooster Run GC member Tim Elias after a 70. Dave Sanchez of Brandywine GC placed third at 141 following a final round 69.
Bob Gorman of Las Positas GC (70) and Bob Godfrey (65) of Green Hills CC shared fourth place at 142. Godfrey had opened with a 77.
In the Zinfandel flight (15.5 handicap index and above), E-Club Sacramento member Fred Granados also had to go to extra holes to get the win.
Granados and E-Club East Bay member Darrell Santos finished tied after regulation at 135 following rounds of 69 and 66, respectively.
In their playoff, Granados won when Santos missed a 15-inch putt for bogey on the first hole (No.1) of sudden death.
For Granados, it was finally his turn at the top. It was the fourth time the 60-year-old State of California employee was competing in the championship.
“I am on cloud nine,” Granados said. “My goal coming in was to finish in the top 10, and here I end up winning. It’s great.”
Granados, who had come in to the finale tied for the lead at 66 with Ancil Hoffman GC member Morris Bell III and Agilent Technologies GC member James McLay, had an eagle (No.9) and seven birdies but was also slowed by four bogeys.
With Lay and Bell III faltering, Santos made his run to tie Granados by carding an eagle (No.16) and eight birdies to go with four bogeys. A birdie on the 18th had pushed Santos into a tie with Granados.
Finishing alone in third place at 136 in the Zinfandel flight was EWGA Sacramento Chapter member Karen Biscaha, who shot 68.
One of the big turnarounds of the event came in the Chardonnay flight, with Calippe Preserve GC member Douglas Midgley posting a 67 a day after shooting 82.
June 2, 2014
Dave Petersen had it going in Monday’s first round of the annual NCGA Senior Net Championship at par-72 Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey.
Starting on the back-nine, Petersen, who plays out of the Course at Wente Vineyards, had three net birdies and an eagle on the par-5 13th en route to a 3-under 69 and a two stroke lead in the Chardonnay flight (11.0 handicap index or lower) portion of the championship.
Petersen, who also had two birdies on his back-nine but was slowed by four bogeys, leads Ukiah Golf Club member Bo Strong, who finished the day in second after posting a 1-under 71. Strong had eight birdies, including five straight on holes No.12 through No.16, but slipped with three double-bogeys on his front-nine (holes No.1, No.4 and No.5).
Five players–Lake Wildwood GC member Terry Thelan, E-Club Central Valley member Gary Kiedrowski, Greenhorn Creek GC member Don Pulliam, Harding Park GC member Bill Carle and Ukiah GC member Matt Howard–are all tied for third after carding opening 72’s.
In the Merlot Flight (handicap index 11.1-15.4), Simon Tao of Harding Park GC jumped out to a two stroke lead after carding a 4-under 68.
Tao’s charge included eagles at No.7 and No.8 and five birdies. He could’ve gone lower but was tripped up by a triple-bogey on the par-4 3rd.
In second place at 70 are Lake Chabot GC member Barry Savnik and Rooster Run GC member Tim Elias. Savnik posted six birdies, including back-to-back on holes No.10 and No.11 and four bogeys. Elias had four birdies, nabbing back-to-back birdies on holes No.7 and No.8, and two bogeys.
Three players are tied for tied for fourth in the Merlot flight at 71–Ibew 595 and Friends member David Nelson, Bankamerica-Golden Gate GC Kevin O’Leary and Ancil Hoffman GC member Ross Nelson.
The Zinfandel flight (15.5 handicap index and above) leaderboard is also tight. There, three players–Ancil Hoffman GC member Morris Bell III, Agilent Technologies GC member James McLay and E-Club Sacramento member Fred Granados–are tied at the top after posting identical 6-under 66’s.
Bell III had two eagles (No.13 and No.17) and seven birdies but was stung by three bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-5 17th. McLay had an eagle on the 7th and eight birdies but also suffered a double-bogey on the par-4 3rd. Granados racked up seven birdies with just one bogey.
Alone in third place at 68 is Golden Bay GC member Butch Harrison. In at 69, in a tie for fourth are three players–Pajaro Valley GC member Anthony Fisher, San Benito MAGA Chapter GC member Alicia Meiners and e-Club South Bay member Jeff Wong.
The second round will be held Tuesday at Del Monte Golf Course.