November 16, 2016
It wasn’t the way Santa Barbara resident John Pate wanted to finish, but it got the job done.
Pate shot a final round 4-over 76 and survived a late charge by Randy Haag, claiming his second California Senior Amateur title in three years by three shots on a cold and blustery Wednesday at par-72 Lake Merced Golf Club. With the victory, Pate joined Jeff Burda (2008-2010 ) and Jim McMurtrey(1994, 1995 and 1998) as multiple winners of the championship.
“I feel like as a Mid-Amateur that I underachieved,” said the 57-year-old Pate, who finished with a three-day total of even-par 216. “Maybe as a senior I’ll overachieve.”
The keys to Pate’s win came in the first and second rounds, when he posted rounds of 71 and 69, respectively, on a Lake Merced course that was playing tough due in part to thick rough. His 69 came on a day when the next lowest score was a 72. It would give him a comfy four shot lead entering the finale.
“I could’ve gone lower than the 69. I left a lot of shots out there,” said Pate, who captured his first California Senior Amateur crown in 2014 at Poppy Hills in his senior debut. “My short game really came through.”
In a final round that he described as a “dumpster fire”, Pate. the brother of professional Steve Pate, went 5-over through 17 holes with zero birdies. He’d collect his lone birdie at a perfect time, however, sinking a 3-footer on the 18th to seal the deal. The 18th was the only fairway he hit in regulation.
Earlier on the par-4 16th, he escaped with only a bogey after his ball found an indentation on the collar of the green.
“The ball was so down so much that I thought I was going to whiff it,” Pate said. “I was lucky to get out of there with a bogey.”
All the while, Pate also had to fend off a feisty Haag. Looking for his first California Senior Amateur title, Haag made things interesting with a 71 that included three birdies on his back-nine. The Olympic Club member and record six-time NCGA Player of the Year, who’d entered the round eight shots behind Pate, had a chance to apply more pressure on the 18th but missed his 3-foot birdie try. Earlier in his round, Haag missed numerous other putts from within six feet.
“When you’re eight shots behind, you can’t miss putts from within six feet,” said Haag, who came in at 219. “I knew the scores would be there would I could make a run. This course was tough. It played like a championship venue.”
Finishing in a tie for third at 224 were 2012 champion Casey Boyns (76), James Camaione (75) and Craig Steinberg (80). Boyns was also making a charge until his ball got lost in a tree on the par-3 12th, leading to a crippling quadruple-bogey.
Coming into the finale, Pate fully expected Haag and Company to make a push.
“I was actually hoping to shoot par,” Pate said. “I didn’t want to get into a playoff and I know my wife didn’t want that seeing that we had a six hour drive home.”
November 15, 2016
Santa Barbara resident John Pate finally got to call himself a State champion when he won the 2014 California Senior Amateur Championship at Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Now, a second title is right in his crosshairs.
Pate, the brother of professional Steve Pate, shot a second round 3-under 69 Tuesday at par-72 Lake Merced Golf Club to take a commanding four shot lead in this week’s California Senior Amateur.
The lone player in the field to shoot under par both the first and second rounds, Pate will enter the final round with a two-day total of 4-under 140. In creating his cushion, the Ventura native carded six birdies to counter three bogeys.
“I hope I can do more of the same tomorrow,” Pate said. “It’s a difficult golf course. It never allows you to feel super comfortable out there.”
In at 144, four behind the leader, are two other players hailing from Southern California–Patrick Rohan of San Diego and Craig Steinberg of Agoura Hills. Coming off a first round leading 69, Rohan shot a 75. Steinberg, meanwhile, followed up a 70 with a 74.
Alone in fourth place at 146 following his second straight 73 is recent NCGA Senior Valley Amateur champion Mark Morgan. Casey Boyns, who won the California Senior Amateur in 2012, had a 77 to fall back into a T-5 at 148 with three other players including 2016 NCGA Senior Player of the Year runner-up Randy Haag (74).
In the annual Senior Cup, which pits three players from the SCGA versus three players from the NCGA (best two scores out of three) over the first two days of the championship, the NCGA took the title, 296-300.
At the 1995 California Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pate lost the title 1-up when opponent Jeff Sanday sank a 20-foot putt on the 36th hole. In exorcising those demons at Poppy Hills in 2014, Pate went on to win the title by two shots.
With another victory Wednesday, Pate would become only the third player to win multiple California Senior Amateur titles, joining Jeff Burda and Jim McMurtrey, who’ve each won a record three times.
Wednesday’s final round will tee off at 8 a.m.
November 14, 2016
Each of the last two years, a player from Southern California has captured the title at the annual California Senior Amateur Championship. While it’s early, it appears that theme may continue.
On Monday, San Diego resident Patrick Rohan grabbed the first round lead in this year’s championship at par-72 Lake Merced Golf Club after posting a 3-under 69. The 2015 SCGA Super Senior Championship winner was solid, carding five birdies to go against just two bogeys.
Just a stroke behind Rohan after a 70 is Agoura Hills’ Craig Steinberg. Steinberg is no stranger to the limelight, having captured four SCGA Amateur titles during his heydays in the 1990’s.
Two of the three players (John Pate and Craig Davis) who are T-3 at 71 also hail from the Southland. Pate won the California Senior Amateur in 2014 at Poppy Hills. Also coming in at 71 was 2012 winner Casey Boyns. Boyns, the all-time leader in NCGA victories (23 including Senior wins), had a rollercoaster round, carding seven birdies but also a pair of bogeys and two double-bogeys. Having started on the 10th tee, the longtime Pebble Beach Golf Links caddie closed his day with a back-nine 33.
Also in the immediate hunt is the always dangerous Jeff Burda. Burda, who’s playing out of La Quinta this week is alone in sixth place following a 72. The part-time Modesto resident is the only player to ever win the California Senior Amateur three years in a row (2008-2010) and would break a tie with Jim McMurtrey for most California Senior Amateur wins (three) with a victory.
In the annual Senior Cup, which pits three players from the SCGA versus three players from the NCGA (best two scores out of three), the NCGA leads, 145-148. The NCGA is being represented by Boyns, record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag (74) and 2016 NCGA Senior Player of the Year Dale Bouguennec (79). Team SCGA consists of Burda, Craig Calkins (76) and John McClure (77).
Tuesday’s second round will tee off at 8 a.m. Following Tuesday’s second round, a cut will be made with the low 30 (including ties) advancing to Wednesday’s final round.