July 10, 2016
Coming off consecutive poor showings at the recent North and South Amateur and California Amateur Championships, Robby Salomon wasn’t exactly sure which direction his game was headed.
“I kind of let go of a lot of work instructors had me doing,” Salomon said. “I almost re-started golf. I was maybe focusing too much. I told myself to just go out and play.”
On Sunday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course, Salomon got everything back in order.
The 27-year-old former CSU-Monterey Bay standout first came from four strokes back with a clutch 3-under 68, and later defeated Ryan Knop on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win his second straight NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship title.
For Salomon, who joined Ben Geyer (2012-2013) as the only players to win back-to-back Stroke Play titles since the championship returned in 2004, the key to it all was his putter. Not only did the Marina resident use a new putter, but starting on the 13th hole in Saturday’s second round–when he was at 6-over– he switched from his normal claw grip to putting cross-handed. Through his final 24 holes of regulation, he’d go 6-under.
“I was putting so bad using the claw grip that I decided to switch. It made all the difference,” Salomon said. “Considering where I was, this was a huge win for me. It was not expected.”
While his 68 got him into a tie with Knop, it was on the first playoff hole (No.1) that Salomon’s putter came up huge. After missing the green in regulation, Salomon found himself staring at a tricky 7-footer for par to halve the hole with Knop. His putt fell straight into the cup.
“He made a great putt there,” Knop said. “That was a big one.”
Having survived, on the second hole (No.2) Salomon hit a nearly perfect 7-iron to within 13-feet of the flagstick. He’d two-putt for par, while Knop, who saw his tee shot settle in the bottom-right portion of the green, missed his first two attempts.
“That tee shot on No.2, I hit where I wanted to. I hit a lot of shots that weren’t perfect, but they worked out,” Salomon.
Earlier in the day, Salomon, who plans to turn professional in the fall, saw an eagle putt on the par-5 9th just miss. He’d reached the green in two when his second shot bounced out of the hazard and onto the green. On the finishing 18th, he had another eagle putt to take the outright lead, but again his ball skimmed past the cup.
“I knew where I stood and how big the 18th was. I really wanted an eagle there,” said Salomon, who’d settle for a birdie and three-day total of even-par 213.
With Salomon–who was playing three groups ahead of the leaders–in the clubhouse all eyes turned to Knop and Hayden Shieh.
On the 17th, Knop made bogey to drop back to even-par, while Shieh sank a 25-foot birdie bomb to get to even-par. A hole later at the pivotal 18th, Knop had a 4-foot putt to win the title outright but missed. Shieh, on the other hand, had to settle for a bogey after missing his drive to the left, forcing a punch-out second shot.
“I just lipped it out,” said Knop of his attempt at the outright win. “You just don’t want a downhill, sliding putt ever.”
For Knop, a sophomore who will transfer from UC Davis to the University of Auburn this fall, the day was another tough lesson to swallow.
Following back-to-back birdies on holes No.3 and 4, he held what looked to be a commanding four shot lead over the field. Knop’s lead would dwindle to two following consecutive bogeys on the 7th and 8th holes, but he bounced back with back-to-birdies on the 11th and 12th to stay in the lead. Things would begin unraveling again when he double-bogeyed the par-4 14th after finding his ball not only in the fairway bunker, but also a greenside bunker.
In the final round of last year’s championship, Knop played in the last group with Salomon. He’d shoot a 77, while Salomon had a 68 to win by five.
“I was in a similar situation last year. It’s disappointing,” said Knop, who finished with a 72. “Overall, I played pretty well.”
Shieh, who also had his chances, shot 72 to finish T-3 with Perry Cohen at 214. Cohen, a junior at St. Mary’s, also could’ve joined the playoff but had to settle for a 71 after missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th.
Ryan Gronlund, who had a 69, and defending NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore (72), finished T-5 at 217. Miguel Delgado, who held a share of the second round lead with Knop, fell back to an 82 to finish T-17.
July 9, 2016
Pleasanton resident Ryan Knop again found his groove at Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Knop, a sophomore at UC Davis, grabbed a share of the lead at this weekend’s annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship on Saturday, posting a 2-under 69 to move into a tie for first with Miguel Delgado at 1-under 141.
The lone player to break 70 in the second round, Knop had a chance to take it even deeper. He’d start his day by going 3-under through his first four holes. From there, Knop, who shot an 8-under 63 at Poppy Hills en route to winning the 2014 Junior Tour of Northern California Tour Championship, rang up three more birdies, but he’d also suffer four bogeys.
Delgado, who took the lead on Friday with a solid 67, slipped back into a tie with Knop after carding a 74. A day after carding five birdies, Delgado could only manage one to offset four bogeys.
At just one behind the co-leaders is University of Santa Clara junior Hayden Shieh. Runner-up at the 2014 NCGA Public Links Championship, Shieh remained steady, posting a 72 for a two-day total of 142.
Also remaining within easy striking distance were Andrew Moren and Perry Cohen, who each finished the day at 143. Moren, the head coach at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, had two bogeys and two birdies on his way to a 71, while Cohen, a junior at St. Mary’s, shot 72. Cohen’s coach at St. Mary’s, Scott Hardy, won the Stroke Play title both in 2004 and 2011.
With no one breaking away, the door remains open for defending champion Robby Salomon and defending NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore. Salomon, a star at CSU-Monterey Bay, shot 72, while Moore had a 74. Both are among a pack of four players, including 2014 JTNC Player of the Year Joshua McCarthy, who will enter the final round only four off the lead.
Record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag, who’s competing as a senior, also is still in the mix. Haag had a 73 and is in a group of nine players who will begin the day at six shots back.
The cutline (low 40 and ties) came at 9-over 151.
July 8, 2016
The Irish reigned supreme, at least for a day.
Miguel Delgado, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, grabbed the lead in this weekend’s annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship on Friday, posting a solid 4-under 67 at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Delgado, who reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 San Francisco City Championship, made his move on Poppy’s par-5’s. He’d play the four par-5’s at 4-under, adding a fifth birdie on the par-3 15th. His lone miscue on the day would be a bogey on the par-3 17th.
Just a stroke back at 68 is Noah Woolsey of Pleasanton. Starting on the back-nine, Woolsey, a senior at Amador Valley High, opened with a 33 thanks in part to back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th. On the front-nine, he’d post a 1-under 35 with eight pars and a birdie on the 9th.
Four players–Arizona State senior Nicolo Galletti, UC Davis sophomore Ryan Han, University of Santa Clara junior Hayden Shieh and recent Sonoma State grad Brandon Lee–are all tied for third at 70. Shieh, an All-WCC selection this past season, was runner-up at the 2014 NCGA Public Links Championship. Han, who was a three-time Monterey Bay League MVP while playing at Hollister High, reached the semifinals of the 2014 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship.
Another five players, including defending NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore of Monterey, are just four strokes back after opening with scores of 71. Defending champion Robby Salomon is T-24 following a 73.
Following Saturday’s second round, a cut will be made with the low 40 (and ties) advancing to Sunday’s final round.
On what was a nearly perfect day, Poppy Hills played to a stroke average of 78.183. The toughest hole was the opening par-4 1st, which played to a 4.9080 stroke average and gave up only six birdies.