August 15, 2014
Matthew Seramin’s self-proclaimed slump is officially over.
Seramin more than snapped out of his funk Friday at par-72 Spyglass Hill, draining a tough 13-foot putt for birdie on the 36th hole to defeat No.1 seed Aaron Beverly 1-up in the finals of the 111th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship.
Just last summer, Seramin was so unsure of his golf future that he began contemplating a temporary divorce from the game. The last time the finals came down to the 36th hole was in 2009, when George Gandranata defeated Casey Boyns 1-up.
“It’s awesome. But I’m also definitely exhausted,” said Seramin, a fifth-year senior at UC Davis. “Yeah, I think it’s safe to say the slump is over, but I still need to work on my wedges.”
On the pivotal 36 hole (the par-4 18th), a wedge never entered the equation. After hitting his drive slightly into the right rough, the No.26 seeded Seramin knocked his second shot to 13 feet above the flagstick. Beverly, at least for a moment, appeared to be in better shape, hitting his approach to within 6 feet of the flagstick.
Despite facing a downhill, sliding putt, Seramin sank it for birdie, while Beverly’s birdie try slid past the cup.
“I just played it as high as I could and let it slide,” Seramin said.
Early on, it was Seramin himself who was sliding.
In the morning round, Beverly, a junior at Sacramento State, made birdie on the 17th hole to take what appeared to be a commanding 5-up lead. Seramin responded with a birdie of his own on the 18th, but the two entered the break with Beverly holding a 4-up lead.
“On Aaron’s first 18 he probably had one missed shot,” said Seramin of Beverly, who shot 67 in the morning. “My goal had been to be 2-down at the break.”
In the afternoon portion, Seramin, who vaulted to the No.2 spot in the points standings for NCGA Player of the Year honors, got his first break when Beverly bogeyed the 20th hole (No.2) to make it 3-up.
Two holes later on the 369-yard, par-4 4th, Seramin upped the ante by driving the green and sinking his 8 foot putt for eagle. Playing downwind, both players had gone for the green, but Beverly went long into the sand dunes.
The momentum change was brief, as Beverly again made it 3-up with a par on the 5th, but Seramin again made it 2-up when Beverly bogeyed the 24th hole.
“I’d feel like I was getting back into it, and then I’d lose a hole and it’d be gone,” Seramin said.
When Beverly double-bogeyed the 26th hole (No.8) after hitting a bad drive, the lead shrank back to 1-up.
Still hanging in there, it was on the 28th hole (No.10) that Seramin received an extra boost as well when college roommate and teammate Luke Vivolo showed up to caddie. Having stayed with Vivolo during the week, Seramin wasn’t sure if Vivolo was going to make it.
“He (Vivolo) had said he may come out. Thank God he did,” Seramin said. “I was struggling. I know his game and he knows my game. He calmed me down.”
Rejuvenated, Seramin went on to take his first lead of the match, 1-up, on the 31st hole after draining a 12-foot putt for birdie.
But again he couldn’t keep the momentum. On the ensuing 32nd hole (the par-5 14th), Seramin carded a double-bogey after hitting his approach shot into the bunker above the pond. From there, the two would halve pars until Seramin closed the deal with his putt on the 36th hole.
Prior to Vivolo’s appearance, Seramin had already gotten a huge lift. Missing earlier in the week due to other obligations, both his mom Ann and dad Rick came to watch. Afterwards, Seramin thanked his parents for coming whilst wiping away some quick tears.
“I can’t even talk about how much that meant,” said Seramin, whose game has come more together after working with new coach Don Parsons of Santa Barbara, who also coaches Matt Hansen.
For Beverly, the end was also heartbreaking, but for other reasons. Also looking for his first big amateur victory, Beverly had his dad, Ron, on the bag all week. The Monday of championship week was Ron’s birthday, and Beverly was hoping to deliver a title.
Both of Beverly’s parent are also cancer survivors.
“It was a great week,” said a distraught Beverly afterwards. “I accomplished a lot.”
As for Seramin, the victory party plans include a trip to Ireland in a few weeks with some of his teammates. There’ll be some casual golf, and maybe a few pints thrown back.
“I think he wants a pint right now,” said his father as Seramin smiled.
August 14, 2014
Call it the Clash of the Yolo Causeway.
Aaron Beverly, a junior at Sacramento State, and Matthew Seramin, a senior just down the Interstate-80 corridor at UC Davis, will meet in Friday’s finals of the 111th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship after the pair swept through both their quarterfinals and semifinals on a grueling day at par-72 Spyglass Hill.
Beverly stamped his finals ticket via a 1-up semifinals win over Ryan Han, while Seramin moved on with a 19th hole victory over Matt Cohn.
“It was a grind all day,” said Beverly, the No.1 seed. “It’s physically and mentally exhausting.”
Playing in his first career match play event, Beverly finally got past the No.12 seeded Han when the freshman to be at UC Davis missed a 3 foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole that would have sent the match to extra holes. With Han’s miss, the two halved the hole par with pars, thanks to a brilliant up and down by Beverly from off the green.
Just a hole earlier on the 17th, it appeared that Beverly, then holding a 1-up lead, had a chance to shut the door after Han’s approach shot bounced to the top back portion of the green. Despite the downhill lie, Han sank his 12 foot putt for birdie, instantly shifting the pressure back to Beverly. Beverly answered with a clutch putt of his own, draining a 10-footer for birdie.
“On the 18th, I was just trying to make par because anything can happen,” said Beverly, who has had his father, Ron, on the bag all week as caddie. “The putt on 17 I just treated like any other putt. Give it a good read and hope it goes in.”
While Beverly had trouble shaking off Han, the No. 26 seeded Seramin’s first task was simply catching Cohn. The 33-year-old Cohn, who hails from San Francisco, took a quick 3-up lead on the heels of Seramin bogeys on the 6th and 7th holes.
But Seramin never panicked. Following two Cohn bogeys on holes No.8 and No.9, and after draining a huge 30-foot putt for eagle on the 11th, Seramin brought the match back to all-square.
“When I was down three I had been making bogeys. So I knew I could come back,” said Seramin, who finished fifth at the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship. “When I made that putt on the 11th, I really knew I had a chance.”
Thing didn’t look so good for Seramin when another bogey on the 16th gave Cohn a 1-up lead, but Cohn returned the favor with his own bogey on the 18th, sending the match back to the par-5 1st.
On the first playoff hole, Cohn’s drive hit a tree on the left and dropped straight down, while Seramin’s drive bounced through the fairway and into the pine straw. While Cohn could only manage to get his third shot into the greenside bunker, Seramin’s third shot–an 8-iron from 144 yards out after a great second shot out of the woods–stopped less than 10 feet from the pin. Cohn could not get up and down from the bunker, while Seramin calmly two-putted for the win.
“It feels really good, but I’m also very tired,” Seramin said. “You’ve got to play good golf out here.”
Cohn,who was making his first appearance in the semifinals, lamented previous lost opportunities. He could have taken a 5-up lead with wins on the 8th and 9th, but on the 8th he flew his approach shot too far to the back of the green, while on the 9th he missed a 4-footer for par.
“This season has been kind of awful for me, but getting this far changes that,” Cohn said.
Seramin knows the feeling. He described himself as being “in a funk” for the last two years. A new coach and “lots of time” have put him in the position he’s in.
“I’m starting to roll in the right direction,” Seramin said.
A year after missing the stroke play cut, Beverly is also just a day away from the biggest win of his amateur career.
In the morning quarterfinals, Beverly, a former standout at Armijo High, stamped his ticket to the semis via a 2-up win over No.25 Scott Hardy. Hardy, the head coach at St. Mary’s had been the oldest player in the field remaining at age 38.
Han, meanwhile, ousted No.29 Bobby Bucey, 3 and 2.
Seramin moved on with a 4 and 2 win over No.21 Robby Salomon, and Cohn advanced with a 2 and 1 win over No.3 Corey Pereira.
Through his first three matches, Han never trailed. In his quarterfinals win, Cohn played the front-nine at a blistering 5-under.
Friday’s championship match will tee off a 7 a.m.
The last player to earn medalist honors and win the championship is Ryan Thornberry, who accomplished the feat in 2006.
August 13, 2014
No.1 seed Aaron Beverly cruised, while everyone else struggled to stay alive.
Beverly, a junior at Sacramento State, put an exclamation point on both his first and second round wins Wednesday at the NCGA Amateur Match Play Chamionship at par-72 Spyglass Hill, claiming 6 and 5 wins in both rounds.
For the rest of the field, the day was a test of mettle.
No.2 seed Jon Peterson of Granite Bay fell victim in the first round, falling on the 20th hole to CSU Monterey Bay senior Robby Salomon. No.4 seed Stephen Griggs also was bounced in the opening round, losing 3 and 2 to defending NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champion Bobby Bucey.
Bucey, the No.29 seed, defined the unpredictability of the day. In his morning match against Griggs, the former Chico State standout fell four behind through just the first six holes. Bucey came roaring back though, winning holes No.7 through No.10 to bring the match back to all-square. Three more wins on holes No.13, No.14 and No.16, and Bucey, who went 4-under after the 7th, was on his way to the Round of 16.
Once there, he’d keep the momentum going, posting an easy 7 and 6 win over No.13 seed Jeremy Sanchez.
Also advancing through it all was St. Mary’s men’s golf coach and three-time NCGA Public Links champion Scott Hardy. Hardy, at age 38 the oldest competitor left in the field, first knocked out No.8 JT Harper, 3 and 1. In the Round of 16, Hardy, the No.25 seed, grinded out a 2 and 1 win over No.24 Brandon Wu.
Trailing by one through 14 holes, Hardy won holes No.15 through No.17 to claim the victory.
“I hit it all over the place and just kept getting up and down,” said Hardy, who due to fatigue began pulling all of his drives low left late in the day. “My short game saved me.”
Good fortune also visited No.3 seed Corey Pereira. On the 20th hole of his first round match, Pereira, who ran away with the title at the Pacific Coast Amateur, appeared to be doomed when No.30 Zach Smith knocked his approach shot on No.2 to within four feet of the pin. Smith, however, missed the putt. On the 21st hole (the par-3 3rd), Pereira won with a par when Smith pulled his tee shot left into the ice plant.
Just over 20 minutes or so later, Pereira was back at it against No.14 Dan Sullivan. The two see-sawed through the first 11 holes before Pereira took control to pull out a 3 and 1 win.
Pereira and Beverly are the only two Top 10 seeded players left in the brackets.
Also grinding out victories were No.22 seed Matt Cohn of San Francisco and No.26 Matthew Seramin.
In the first round, Cohn escaped with a 1-up win over No.11 Taylor Knoll after the pair halved the 18th with pars. Later, Cohn sent No.27 seed Jason Anthony packing via a 2 and 1 victory thanks to a pair of clutch birdies on the 15th and 17th holes. Anthony entered the event holding the No.1 spot in the points race for NCGA Player of the Year honors.
Seramin, meanwhile, marched on with a pair of 1-up wins over No.7 Michael Tolladay and No.23 Ricky Owaki, respectively.
Coming off his win over Peterson, Salomon also had to dig deep. In the second round, he wouldn’t shake off No.15 Seb Crampton until the 20th hole. Earlier in the day, Crampton had advanced to the Round of 16 with a 1-up win over good friend Skyler Finnell, a former teammate at nearby Stevenson School.
The only other player other than Beverly who could breathe somewhat easier was former Hollister High star Ryan Han. Han, a freshman to be at UC Davis and the No. 12 seed, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7 and 6 first round win over No. 21 Lawrence Connor and a 4 and 3 win over No.5 Andrew Bonner.
Han, who made it to match play for the first time, never trailed in either of the two matches. His only other match play experience came at the San Francisco City Amateur four years ago.
“I just played steady,” Han said. “What made it a lot easier is both rounds, I started out with a few birdies.”
In Thursday morning’s quarterfinals, the red hot Beverly will take on the veteran Hardy, while Bucey and Han will tangle. The other two quarterfinals matches will pit Salomon against Seramin and Pereira versus Cohn.
The quarterfinals will begin at 7 a.m., to be followed by the semifinals starting at 12:30 p.m. Friday’s 36-hole finale will also start at 7 a.m.
August 12, 2014
This time, Fairfield resident Aaron Beverly left no doubts regarding his fate.
Beverly, a junior at Sacramento State, claimed medalist honors and the No.1 seed at this week’s NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship on Tuesday, shooting a 3-under 69 at par-72 Spyglass Hill to finish stroke play qualifying with a 36-hole score of 141.
Last year, Beverly failed to advance to match play.
“It was just a steady round. I hit the ball in the right spots on the greens and kept it in the fairways,” said Beverly, who’ll face No. 32 seed Jack Persons in the first round.
A day after carding a steady opening round 72 that featured one bogey and a birdie, Beverly took it deeper, posting five birdies to go with just two bogeys.
Also moving on to match play was University of Washington sophomore Corey Pereira. Pereira, who recently ran away with the title at the Pacific Coast Amateur, also shot 69 to finish in a tie for second at 144 along with Stephen Griggs and Jon Peterson.
Others moving on included defending Alameda Commuters champion Jonathan De Los Reyes (146), Pacific Coast Amateur runner-up Matt Hansen (146), 2014 NCGA Public Links Championship runner-up Hayden Shieh (149) and three-time NCGA Public Links champion Scott Hardy (150).
Hardy, the No.25 seed, will face No.8 JT Harper in the first round.
In a twist, another first round match will pit former Stevenson School teammates Seb Crampton (No.15) and Skyler Finnell (No.18) against one another.
Among those just squeezing in right at the cut line (151) were recent NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship winner Bobby Bucey, who shot a second round 77, and Jason Anthony (75), who entered the event holding the No.1 spot in the standings for NCGA Player of the Year honors.
Some of those coming short in stroke play qualifying were record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag (152), defending NCGA Public Links champ Austin Roberts (153) and two-time defending NCGA Four-Ball co-champ Mike Stieler (155). Haag, who could have competed in this week’s NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, posted rounds of 76-76. Roberts, from nearby Seaside, fired a 71 a day after carding an 82.
Wednesday’s first round of match play will commence at 7 a.m., to be followed by the second round (Round of 16) starting at 1 p.m.
August 11, 2014
The chase for the No.1 seed and medalist honors is on at this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship.
On Monday at par-72 Spyglass Hill, a trio of players–Matt Hansen, Connor Lawrence and Trevor Clayton–took the first round lead in the stroke play qualifying portion of the championship with each carding 1-under 71.
Hansen, coming off a runner-up finish at the recent Pacific Coast Amateur, was the first player in at 71. The Los Osos resident and Olympic Club member’s round included an eagle on the par-5 7th, four birdies and five bogeys.
Clayton, who entered the championship at No.12 in the NCGA points standings for Player of the Year honors, also had an eagle (on the par-5 11th) to go with three birdies and four bogeys. Lawrence, meanwhile, penciled in four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.
Five players are just a stroke back after opening with rounds of even-par 72 including JT Harper, Brandon Wu and Blake Abercrombie.
Harper, a former star at nearby Pacific Grove High who played for Seton Hall this past season, posted four birdies and four bogeys.
Wu, runner-up at the recent NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, had five birdies but also five bogeys.
Jason Anthony, who came into the event holding the No.1 spot in the race for Player of the Year honors, opened with a 76 and is tied for 30th. Corey Pereira, who ran away with the title at the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, came in at 75 and is tied for 19th.
Following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play qualifying, a cut will be made with only the low 32 advancing to match play. Following Monday’s play, 18 players were tied for 30th at 76.
The hole that caused the most headaches in the first round was the uphill par-4 8th, which played to a stroke average of 4.822. Only three players made birdie on the hole, which played at 400 yards.
August 4, 2014
There’ll be more than just a trophy on the line at the 111th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship.
While players will be looking to hoist the event’s trophy, there’s no doubt that the results of the championship, to be held Aug. 11-15 at Spyglass Hill, will have a major effect on the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors.
As of Monday the 4th, Jason Anthony led the Player of the Year standings with 861 points. But there were 19 players with 461 points or more well within range of catching Anthony.
And that’s where things get interesting.
The winner of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship will be awarded 700 points, which means that there’s a great chance that the champion will assume the lead in the points race.
Following the Amateur Match Play Championship, there’s only one more NCGA major left on the schedule–the annual NCGA Valley Amateur, slated to be held Sept. 17-18 at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.
In other words, crunch time has arrived.
The points leader, Anthony, will enter the championship on somewhat of a roll. Along with picking up a win at the Fresno City Amateur over Memorial Day weekend, the former Fresno State standout reached the Round of 16 at the California State Amateur Championship.
But there are a slew of other names to keep an eye on, including Matt Hansen, Corey Pereira and Jonathan De Los Reyes.
Hansen, who’s at No.8 in the points standings (612), reached the semifinals at the California State Amateur. The former UC Davis star also was runner-up at the Memorial Amateur and advanced through U.S. Open local qualifying.
Arguably the hottest player coming in, Pereira meanwhile was a one-man show at the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship. Propelled by back-to-back rounds of 62, the Cameron Park resident went on to win the championship with a record score of 19-under 261.
De Los Reyes, on the other hand, comes in at No.4 (685) on the points list. The St. Mary’s standout, who made it to match play at the recent U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, has won four times this season, including a record setting performance at the Alameda Commuters Championship.
There’s plenty more too, including NCGA Public Links champ Austin Roberts, NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champ Bobby Bucey, Ryan Knop and Jeremy Sanchez.
Last year, Ben Geyer, now a professional, continued what became an historic season. 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 capture both the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play and Match Play championships in the same year as he defeated Andrew Morgan 5 and 4 in the 36-hole finale.
Both Monday and Tuesday’s action will consist of stroke play qualifying. Following Tuesday’s play, a cut will be made with the low 32 advancing to match play.
Wednesday’s play will feature both the first and second rounds of match play, while Thursday’s action will consist of the quarterfinals and semifinals. On Friday, it’s the 36-hole championship, set to start at 7 a.m.