October 25, 2014
Whitney Oaks has its own place in the NCGA history books.
The two-time defending champion Whitney Oaks GC squad set a new precedent Saturday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course, defeating Kings River GC, 24-12 to become the first team to win three NCGA Team Match Championship titles. For Whitney Oaks, the win was its third consectuive title, also an NCGA record.
Both Spring Creek G&CC (2003. 2007) and Tehama GC (2005, 2010) also were two-time winners, but in separate years. The championship uses a format where two players from a side face off against two players from an opposing side in a four-ball and individual matches concurrently, with players earning two points for a win and one point for a halve.
“We’re proud of it,” Whitney Oaks captain Gary White said. “We had been talking about the three-peat. We have a good mix from top to bottom.”
In their previous wins, Whitney Oaks defeated StoneTree GC (2012) and Lake of the Pines GC (2013). Against Kings River, they’d also have to play through two hours of rainfall. The wet conditions didn’t bother them at all.
In what was an early tale of the tape, Whitney Oaks jumped out to a commanding 12-0 lead based in part by a sweep of both their individual matches and four-ball match by the pairings of Jeff Burkhead and White and Kyle Gillmore and Chris Carolon.
Kings River got on the scoreboard via a win by Anton Bartolussi and a four-ball win by Bartolussi and Travis Schletewitz in the third grouping, but that still left Kings River trailing, 15-3.
Whitney Oaks’ fourth grouping of Scott Straub and Greg Larson clinched the title, as Straub won his match and with he and Larson also winning at four-ball. Kings River swept the final grouping with wins by Nick Boratovich and Dan Cowherd, but by then it was all over. With the match already in hand, some of the focus briefly turned to a players’ ball on 18 that hit the cart path, bounced onto the roof of the NCGA headquarters and then rolled back off the roof into play. The player had a chance to make par but didn’t putt out due to the match play format.
According to White, one of the keys to Whitney Oaks’ recent string of success has been a skins game at the course that keeps players competing year-round. There’s also that, in his opinion, the Rocklin-based Whitney Oaks is simply a tough layout.
“Whitney Oaks is such a tough course that you learn to manage your game in all different environments,” White said. “So we play well when we have to travel to other courses.”
The third place match between Wilcox Oaks and Oakhurst was a completely different matter.
There, things came down to the last grouping. In what was the deciding match, Ron Hurtz of Oakhurst defeated David Cripps to give Oakhurst GC a tight 19-17 victory.
Following a win from Malcolm McDonald, a halve from Devan Leitem in a match versus Pat Henk and a McDonald/Leitem win in four-ball, Wilcox Oaks had taken a 10-8 lead. The next two groupings left Oakhurst clinging to a 17-13 lead, setting the stage for Hurtz’ deciding victory.
October 24, 2014
Whitney Oaks is now in pursuit of its own place in NCGA history.
Two-time defending champion Whitney Oaks got past the first hurdle Friday in its quest to become the first team to three-peat in the annual NCGA Team Match Championship, knocking off Oakhurst GC 24-12 in the Thursday semifinals at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
The first big push for Whitney Oaks came when partners Chuck Roberts and Terry Siler won both their individual matches and Four-Ball match to earn the squad six points. The championship uses a format where two players from a side face off against two players from an opposing side in a four-ball and individual matches concurrently, with players earning two points for a win and one point for a halve.
Later in the day, Whitney Oaks’ Jerry Emry and Doug King also won their individual matches and four-ball match for another six points.
No team has ever won three straight overall titles since the event began in 1989, or three titles in separate years. Both Spring Creek G&CC (2003. 2007) and Tehama GC (2005, 2010) have won two overall titles.
One of the strengths of Whitney Oaks is unity and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. According to Whitney Oaks captain Gary White, the 24 players on the roster have been together for 15 years.
“It’s been a really neat experience for us and a lot of guys have become very good at match play,” White said. “Some of the guys are now really tough match play players. They how understand how to play match play.”
Whitney Oaks also got five points from the duo of Scott Straub and Mike Poetsch.
Oakhurst had gotten off to a nice start, getting four points with a win from Renata Young and a halve from Kip Vaughn, along with the two halving their match versus Spencer Page and Pat McDonald.
Through the first two groups, Oakhurst led, 7-5. But that was before Straub and Poetsch got their wins, setting the stage for what would become an overwhelming comeback by Whitney Oaks.
In the Saturday semifinal, Kings River GC advanced to take on Whitney Oaks, defeating Wilcox Oaks, 23-13.
Steve Jones and Mike Cassidy, the second group for Kings River, got things going by winning their individual matches and four-ball match. Their victories broke a 3-3 tie and gave Kings River an early 8-3 edge.
Like Whitney Oaks, Kings River later got a huge surge, getting six points from Blaine Sanders and Greg Lopez to make the score 16-8.
Kings River put the match away late, getting another seven points from among others Nick Buratovich, who won his match thanks in part to an albatross on the par-5 9th.
The Whitney Oaks and Kings River championship match will tee off Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. to be immediately followed by the consolation Oakhurst vs. Wilcox Oaks match.