April 28, 2015
Following a self-described disappointing year where he went winless, Seaside resident Nick Moore has been eagerly waiting for the 2015 season to really kick in.
“I didn’t feel like I was playing to my potential last year, and taking time off doesn’t help,” Moore said. “I’m really focused this year.”
On Monday at par-72 Spyglass Hill, a re-energized Moore showed that he’s back, shooting a 1-under 71 to win the 50th NCGA Public Links Championship by two strokes over co-runner-ups Scott Hardy and Wes Sandroni.
Moore, who finished the two-day event with a total score of 1-under 142 after carding a first round even-par 71 at Poppy Hills Golf Course, is the first player to win the championship with a score under par since Kyle Prolo, who took the title at Spyglass Hill in 2008 with a score of 140.
“This feels really nice,” said Moore, a 32-year-old caddie at Cypress Point Club who plays out of Bayonet/Black Horse Golf Course. “I missed that feeling of being the winner.”
Now a two-time champion of the NCGA Public Links Championship (he also won in 2013), Moore had to come from three strokes behind first round leader Daniel Griffiths of Redwood City. He also had to fend off Sandroni and Hardy, a three-time winner of the championship.
“Golf is up and down. You have to battle through the hard times to be able to get back on top,” Moore said.
The final round couldn’t have started much worse, as Moore bogeyed the opening 1st hole. He’d quickly rebound, however, carding one of his four birdies on the day on No.2.
“I knew there was still a lot of golf left after that opening bogey and I felt confident. I had my mind set on playing well,” Moore said.
It was on the back-nine that Moore sealed the victory. He’d card a bogey-free, 2-under 33, picking up birdies on the par-5 14th and par-4 17th. After reaching the 14th green in two with a 5-wood, he’d barely miss a putt for eagle. On the 17th, he knocked his approach to within six inches of the flagstick.
All the while, he had no idea what anyone in the final foursome behind him was doing.
“I had seen that no one had won with an under par score since 2008. So I knew that if I could get under par, I’d have a really good chance at winning,” Moore said.
For Moore, it’s his second win in a little over two weeks. He also won the recent AmateurGolf.com California Medal Play Championship.
Helping along in both victories was his caddie and girlfriend, Victoria Dibert.
“We’re starting to work well together on the golf course,” Moore said.
Sandroni, winner of last year’s Davis City Championship, was in the hunt at a total of 1-over until a critical double-bogey on the par-3 12th.
Hardy, who would have joined Casey Boyns as the only four-time winners of the event with a victory, got to 3-under through the front-nine but also doubled the 12th after his tee shot found the water hazard. The St. Mary’s men’s golf coach, who is still waiting to see if the Gaels are in the NCAA Regionals, also bogeyed the 16th.
“I played good the first nine and then just lost it a little,” Hardy said.
Trevor Clayton, the 2014 NCGA Player of the Year, had a 74 to finish alone in fourth at 145.
Both Dominic DeBellis and Griffiths, who were the only two players to shoot in the 60’s at Poppy Hills, fell backwards. DeBellis, a former caddie on the Web.com Tour, followed up an opening 69 with a 78 to drop back to fifth place.
Griffiths, winner of the 2013 San Mateo County Stroke Play Championship, went from 68 to 82 (T-8).
“At Poppy I made every 4 to 5 foot putt I looked at,” DeBellis said. “Today I just putted tentatively. It was still fun being in the last group.”
April 27, 2015
Redwood City resident Daniel Griffiths took the lead, but the chase for the trophy is still wide open.
Griffiths, winner of the 2013 San Mateo County Stroke Play Championship and the runner-up at last year’s AmateurGolf.com Monterey Bay Championship, jumped into the first round lead of the 50th NCGA Public Links Championship on Monday, carding a solid 3-under 68 at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Playing from the Jones Trail tees, which stretch the course to 6.743 yards, Griffiths took advantage of Poppy Hills’ four par-5 holes. He’d birdie each of them, adding another two birdies on the par-3 11th and par-4 14th. His lone hiccups on the day was a trio of bogeys–one coming on No.3 and two coming back-to-back on holes No.15 and No.16. Griffiths finished T-9 at last year’s championship, which was held at Spyglass Hill and Bayonet Golf Course due to the Poppy Hills renovation.
Right on Griffiths’ tail is Roddy Ranch GC member Dominic DeBellis, who also opened strong by posting a 2-under 69. The winner of the 2012 Tracy City Championship and a former caddie on the Web.com Tour, DeBellis couldn’t have asked for a much better start. Having started on the back-nine along with Griffiths, DeBellis opened with a birdie on the 10th and added another birdie on the 15th for a bogey-free, front-nine 33. Later on the front-nine, he’d bogey the 1st and 6th holes, but he’d rebound by closing his round with back-to-back birdies on holes No.8 and No.9.
Others within easy striking distance are St. Mary’s men’s golf coach Scott Hardy and Ben Ledbetter, who both shot first round 70’s.
Hardy, a three time winner of the championship (2007, 2010 and 2011) who with a win this week would join Casey Boyns as the only four-time winners of the event, bounced back from a double-bogey on the 5th with back-to-back birdies on the 6th and 7th. He’d later bogey the 16th, but rebounded from that by closing out with back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th. Ledbetter, playing out of The Ridge GC, took advantage of the back-nine by opening with a bogey-free, 3-under 32. He’d later add another birdie on the 2nd to get to a total of 4-under, but was quickly stung by three consecutive bogeys on holes No.5 through No.7.
Sitting in a tie for fifth at 71, and also major threats, are Nick Moore and Trevor Clayton. Moore, winner of the 2013 NCGA Public Links title and the champion of the recent AmateurGolf.com California Medal Play Championship, was steady, penciling in 14 pars to go with two birdies and two bogeys. Clayton, who captured 2014 NCGA Player of the Year honors after winning the Valley Amateur, started slowly, carding a 3-over 38 on the back-nine that featured a birdie and four bogeys. After making the turn, he’d get into groove, going bogey-free with three birdies for a 33.
In a tie for 7th at 73 are San Francisco’s Matt Cohn and Morgan Creek GC member Wes Sandroni. Cohn finished 15th in last year’s NCGA Player of the Year points standings.
Six players, including record four-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll and Steven Chung, are six off the pace after shooting 74. On Sunday, captured the Alameda Commuters Senior Championship for a record fourth time. Chung, meanwhile, finished second in the championship proper.
On Tuesday, play shifts to par-72 Spyglass Hill, which will be set up to play at 6,877 yards.
The last player to win the championship with a score under par is Kyle Prolo, who took the title at Spyglass Hill in 2008 with a score of 140. The record score for the championship is just 6-under, set in 1999 by Ryan King. Last year’s champion, Austin Roberts, is not in the field this year.
April 15, 2015
Monterey resident Austin Roberts came up big when he had to.
With a number of players including three-time champion Scott Hardy right on his tail, Roberts stuck his 65-yard approach shot on the par-5 18th hole at par-72 Bayonet Golf Course to within three feet of the flagstick and sank the putt for birdie to walk away as the winner of the 2014 NCGA Public Links Championship.
For Roberts, the win was his second in nine days. He’d also recently captured the Jim Lathum Salinas City Amateur at Salinas Fairways.
“This is a big win for me,” said Roberts, who finished the weather battered event at Spyglass Hill and Bayonet GC with a two-day total of 2-over 146 (73-73). “I feel like all the hard work I’ve done the last few weeks has paid off.”
Heading to the 18th tee, Roberts was tied with Hayden Shieh. Shieh pulled his drive left and found the greenside bunker, leading to a par. Roberts’ attempt to reach the par-5 green in two failed, but his 65-yard flop shot landed just a few feet from the flagstick.
“That third shot was huge. It came off the club perfect,” Roberts said. “My heart was racing over that putt. I just put a good stroke on it.”
Beginning Monday, a field of over 110 players will get back to it when the 50th NCGA Public Links Championship tees off.
Among the big differences for the Silver anniversary event will be the lack of Roberts in the field. A year after shifting to Bayonet GC due to the Poppy Hills renovation, the tournament also returns to Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills.
But don’t expect scores to get much lower. In winning last year, Roberts shot a 1-over 73 at Spyglass Hill and a 1-over 73 at Bayonet. Not a single player in the field broke par either of the two rounds.
While Poppy Hills could give up a 67, it’s more likely that the winning score will be a total of par or over. After all, that seems to be the case with the Public Links Championship.
The last player to win with a score under par is Kyle Prolo, who took the title at Spyglass Hill in 2008 with a score of 140. The record score for the championship is just 6-under, set in 1999 by Ryan King.
With Roberts missing, a new champion will be crowned. Some of those in the field to keep an eye include Hardy, who won the title in 2007, 2010 and 2011. With another victory, the St. Mary’s coach, who finished third last year, would join Casey Boyns as the only four-time winners of the event.
Others who could make noise include 2014 NCGA Player of the Year Trevor Clayton, recent AmateurGolf.com California Mid-Am champ and 2013 Public Links winner Nick Moore and Matt Cohn, who finished 15th in last year’s Player of the Year race.
The championship will start with 18 holes at Poppy Hills. The final round will be held Tuesday the 28th at Spyglass Hill. There is no cut.
The NCGA Public Links Net Championship will be played the same two days as the Scratch championship. Play in the Net Championship will be held at Spyglass Hill on Monday and Poppy Hills on Tuesday.