September 20, 2015
A thermometer hovering around 100 degrees, 18 grueling holes of regulation and a nine-hole sudden death playoff against an opponent who simply would not budge.
All that, plus NCGA Player of the Year honors on the line.
In an example of fortitude and willpower, Monterey resident Nick Moore conquered them all.
Moore, 33, outlasted 17-year-old Blake Hathcoat of Clovis in what was one of the greatest NCGA finishes ever, beating Hathcoat with a par on the 9th hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the 12th annual NCGA Valley Amateur Championship on a stifling Sunday at par-72 Dragonfly GC in Madera.
For Moore, the victory was his second Valley Am title (2013), his second NCGA win of the year (Public Links Championship) and most importantly, put him in the driver’s seat in the 2014-2015 NCGA Player of the Year points standings.
“Being Player of the Year motivated me more than anything,” Moore said. “I knew that if I finished in second it didn’t do anything. I knew I had to win it.”
Standing in Moore’s way, and doing everything he could to stay there, was Hathcoat. The Clovis North High senior’s goal was to not just get his first win but also to impress a potential college suitor.
He’d push Moore until the 9th extra hole (the par-4 18th), where he lost with a bogey after missing the green in regulation.
“It was a lot fun. I enjoyed it,” said Hathcoat, who has been recruited by numerous colleges but has yet to commit to anyone and was also runner-up at this year’s NCGA Junior Championship. “On the final hole, I just didn’t play enough wind and it pushed the ball away from the green.”
With Hathcoast finally gone, Moore breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“It was one of the most intense nine holes I’ve ever played,” Moore said.
The morning 18 holes weren’t a picnic, either.
Having entered the day trailing Hathcoat by two, Moore would post a 5-under 67 with eight birdies and three bogeys. Hathcoat shot a 69 despite an early double-bogey on the par-5 2nd.
“The morning was equally intense. I was keeping Blake’s scorecard so I knew exactly what he was doing and what I had to do,” Moore said.
Moore got to a total of 7-under to tie Hathcoat after sinking a huge 10-footer for birdie on the 17th.
“I played a good round so I was confident going into the playoff,” said Moore, who just missed a 12-foot birdie try on the 18th that would’ve won it. “It was a battle. There were a couple of times my heart started thumping, but I’d stop and tell myself to just relax and take it one shot at a time.”
Finishing in third place at 138, just a shot out of the playoff, was Fresno’s Michael Tolladay after his second straight 69. The low round of the day came from two-time Valley Am champ Steven Chung, who shot a 64 to climb into fourth place.
Coming off a disappointing 2013-2014 season where he went winless, Moore had started the 2014-2015 wanting to get back on track. He showed his first signs that he was ready with his victory in April at the Public Links Championship.
Recently, he also qualified for this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
“I had my mind made up to give it a good effort,” Moore said. “It’s a great way to cap the season.”
Senior Valley Amateur
Contra Costa CC member Dale Bouguennec finally got his turn at the top, and may have served notice for the future in the process.
Bouguennec, a 55-year-old rookie on the NCGA Senior Amateur Tour, won the final event of the 2014-2015 season on Sunday, shooting a final round 2-under 70 at Dragonfly GC to win the Senior Valley Amateur by two over a star-studded quartet of some of the Tour’s best players.
It’s the first NCGA title for Bouguennec, who finished the 36-hole event with a two-day total of 2-under 142.
“I was a nervous son of a gun on the 18th. The nerves were really flowing,” said Bouguennec, who finished with an inconsequential bogey. “I’d played in the final group before, but I’d never won.”
Despite the jitters, Bouguennec held off a who’s-who list of challengers. Coming in two shots behind the champion at 144 were record three-time Senior Valley Am champ Gary Vanier, four-time NCGA Player of the Year Casey Boyns, soon-to-be record five-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll and 2014 NCGA Senior Championship runner-up Steve Wilson.
Vanier and Knoll both shot second round 70’s, while Boyns and Wilson had 73.
First round leader Scott Anderson of Roddy Ranch GC, who’d opened with a 70, slipped back to a T-7 finish after a 76.
Bouguennec, an operations manager for AT&T, played with Boyns, Anderson and Wilson in the final foursome.
Earlier this year, Bouguennec won the Granite Bay Senior Four-Ball playing with Wilson. He’d finish second at the Marin County Senior Four-Ball with Anderson as a partner.
“It was great playing with Casey and those guys,” said Bouguennec, whose self-described “steady” round included four birdies and two bogeys. “I’m just thankful to win an event that those guys (Vanier, Knoll) have won. It’s a thrill for me to just tee it up with them.”
September 19, 2015
It’s only fitting that the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors will come down to the final round of this weekend’s NCGA Valley Amateur Championship at par-72 Dragonfly Golf Club in Madera.
While Fresno high school senior Blake Hathcoat took the lead with a 4-under 68 on Saturday, the four players–Jason Anthony, Nick Moore, Matt Cohn and Jerry Ledzinski–who would earn Player of the Year honors with a win are right smack dab in the mix.
All playing in the same foursome, Anthony, of Fairfield, and Monterey’s Moore have the early upper hand, as both finished the first round just two shots behind Hathcoat with identical scores of 70.
The runner-up to Trevor Clayton in last year’s Player of the Year standings, Anthony couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start. On his front-nine, he’d card a 4-under 32 that included an eagle on the 299-yard par-4 4th. It was on the back-nine, however, where things got a bit dicey. Despite carding two more birdies, Anthony also posted two bogeys and a finishing double-bogey on the 18th for a 38.
Moore had a similar fate. The winner of this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship got going with a front-nine 34. He too could’ve gone lower, adding a trio of birdies on the back-nine. But Moore also double-bogeyed the par-3 16th and finished with a bogey on No.18.
Cohn, who lost to Maverick McNealy in the NCGA Amateur Match Play finals, and Ledzinski, the winner of this year’s NCGA Masters Division Championship, didn’t fare as well after opening with matching 73’s, but the duo is hardly out of it at just five strokes back (T-9).
Along with Hathcoat, the four will need to leapfrog Monterey Peninsula CC member Michael Tolladay. Tolladay, who formerly played at University of Pacific, is alone in second after a 69 that included five birdies and two bogeys.
Senior Valley Amateur
Roddy Ranch GC member Scott Anderson grabbed the first round lead with a 2-under 70, but he’s got a number of big names right on his tail.
For Anderson, what was a roller coaster ride began on the back-nine when he shook off an opening double-bogey on the 10th by carding three straight birdies from holes No.12 through No.14 to open with a 1-under 35.
After making the turn, Anderson, who’s looking for his first win since the Oakland City Senior Championship in May, kept things going by penciling in an eagle on the par-5 2nd to get to 3-under. A bogey on the 4th dropped him back to 2-under, but Anderson again righted the ship with back-to-back birdies on holes No.5 and No.6. He couldn’t keep the momentum, however, playing his final three holes at 2-over courtesy of another double-bogey on the 7th.
Just a stroke behind the leader at 71 are fellow Roddy Ranch GC member Steve Wilson and NCGA Senior Amateur Championship winner Casey Boyns.
A quarterfinalist at August’s NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, Wilson posted three birdies and two bogeys. Boyns, who is looking for his first Senior Valley Amateur title, also had three birdies and two bogeys.
Dale Bouguennec, whose last win came at July’s Marin County Senior Amateur, is alone in fourth place after a 72.
Four players, including Ron Collet and Terry Foreman, are T-5 at 73.Two-time champion Jim Knoll and three-time champion Gary Vanier are also in the mix after carding opening round 74’s.
Defending champion Joey Ferrari of e-Club Sacramento is T-19 following a 78.
September 17, 2015
At this year’s NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, everyone was chasing Stanford junior Maverick McNealy.
Come this weekend’s 12th annual NCGA Valley Amateur Championship at par-72 Dragonfly GC in Madera, there’ll still be four players chasing McNealy.
With the conclusion of the 2014-2015 NCGA Amateur Tour season (Sept. 30) rapidly approaching, McNealy—thanks to his victory at the NCGA Amateur Match Play—is atop the points standings for NCGA Player of the Year honors at a total of 1,220.
The 2015 NCAA Player of the Year will not be at Dragonfly GC, but Fairfield’s Jason Anthony, San Francisco’s Matt Cohn, Carmel’s Jerry Ledzinski and Monterey’s Nick Moore will be.
With 500 points going to the winner of the Valley Amateur, they’ll all also have a shot at passing McNealy in the race for Player of the Year honors.
Here’s how things shape up:
- Currently at 929 points, Anthony, who finished second in last year’s points standings, needs 291 points to tie McNealy. A win will do it, but Anthony would also pass McNealy should he finish in second (325 points).
- Currently at 884 points, Cohn, who hung in there with McNealy before losing in the finals of the NCGA Amateur Match Play, needs 336 points to tie McNealy. He’ll need to win.
- Currently at 813 points, Ledzinski, who won this year’s NCGA Masters Division title, needs 407 to points to tie McNealy. He’ll need to win.
- Currently at 780 points, Moore, the winner of this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship, needs 440 points to tie the leader. He’ll need to win.
In the “If that should happen” category, if Cohn wins and Anthony finishes second, Cohn would have 1,384 points, while Anthony would have 1,254 points. If Ledzinski wins and Cohn is second, Ledzinksi takes the lead over Cohn, 1,313 to 1,204. If Moore wins and Anthony takes second, Moore will have 1,280 points to Anthony’s 1,254.
Basically, if any of the four wins, they’re in the driver’s seat. No other players have a chance at taking over the top of the points standings based on the results of the Valley Amateur.
While some players (Anthony is one) have qualified for events such as the U.S. Mid-Amateur, those points will not be applied to this season’s standings due to the championship proper taking place in October, after the 2014-2015 has officially concluded. The points will instead go towards the 2015-2016 NCGA Amateur Tour season.
Following the Valley Amateur, there will only be one more event in the season worth 100 points or more—The Las Positas Open, which will be held Sept. 26-27.
It’s the second year in a row that NCGA Player of the Year honors is coming down to Valley Am.
Last year, Anthony and Fresno’s Trevor Clayton entered the championship trailing Matthew Seramin. Clayton shot an all-time NCGA low 10-under 62 in the first round and never looked back, taking the title. His win gave him Player of the Year honors and left Anthony, who finished T-5, in second place.
Senior Valley Amateur
Over on the Senior side, the race for Player of the Year honors has already been sewn up by a familiar face.
Sunnyvale’s Jim Knoll, who won his record fourth NCGA Senior Player of the Year title last season, will be making it five in a row.
Entering the Senior Valley Amateur, Knoll is at 2,559 points. In second place is Casey Boyns at 1,757 points. The NCGA Senior Valley Amateur is a 300 points event.
Knoll is a two-time winner of the championship, having captured the title in 2008 and 2011.
For Boyns, an NCGA Senior Valley Amateur title is one of only a few things missing from his jam-packed NCGA championship portfolio.
Others to keep an eye on include three-time winner Gary Vanier (2006, 2007 and 2013), three-time Senior Player of the Year Mark Miller ( 2007, 2009 and 2010) and 2008 Senior Player of the Year Jeff Burda.
Saturday’s first round will begin at 12:10 p.m. Sunday’s final round will commence at 7:30 a.m.