Spyglass Hill GC
August 14 – 18, 2017
August 18, 2017
As he scanned the names on the sterling silver trophy, Stanford junior Isaiah Salinda slowly began shaking his head in realizing what he’d accomplished.
“There’s a lot of history on here,” Salinda said. “It’s awesome. It’s an honor.”
The 20-year-old South San Francisco resident will be the latest to his name engaved on the trophy—joining the likes of Charlie Seaver, Lawson Little, Jr, and Roger Maltbie—following a dramatic 1-up victory over friend and defending champion Shintaro Ban in Friday’s 36-hole final of the 2017 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill.
Ban, a senior at UNLV, had been looking to become the first repeat champion since John Catlin in 2010-2011.
It’s the second time in three years that a Cardinal has won the title. In 2015, former teammate Maverick McNealy won the crown. On Thursday evening, McNealy texted Salinda to give his encouragement.
“He basically told me to get the job done,” Salinda said. “He said to stay patient. But also if I got up, to stay aggressive.”
All-square following the morning 18 holes, Salinda began setting the pace when he birdied the 21st hole (No.3) to take a 1-up lead. Another birdie on the 23rd hole and a par win later on the 31st hole thanks to a brilliant sand save, and Salinda looked to be in command with a 3-up lead with only five holes left to play. But then match play—and a suddenly rejuvenated Ban—happened.
On the 32nd hole (No.14), Salinda three-putted, cutting his lead to only 2-up. Just a hole later, Ban drained an 8-foot birdie putt to make it just 1-up. Then, on the 34th hole, Ban stuck his approach shot to within a foot of the flagstick for another birdie. The 3-up lead had vanished.
“I knew Shintaro would come back strong,” said Salinda, who competed against Ban in high school when the two played in the West Catholic Athletic League. “I just refocused and regrouped.”
On the 35th hole, Salinda indeed got back into rhythm, nearly holing out for an eagle. Instead, however, the two halved with birdies sending the match to the 36th hole.
There, Ban pushed his drive right, with his ball eventually stopping on the cart path—directly behind a pine tree. Salinda, meanwhile, was smack dab in the middle of the fairway. After taking relief, the best Ban could do was hit his approach into the front-left greenside bunker. Salinda, meanwhile, knocked his approach to within 8 feet.
“When I saw where my ball was, I thought just scramble for par,” Ban said. “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
Indeed, Ban put his third shot on the green to within 22 feet of the pin. Still alive, his par putt went dead center at the cup—only to hit the back of the cup and bounce out. Salinda went on two-putt for the victory.
“That putt almost went in. But he won fair and square,” said Ban, who a week earlier lost by a stroke at the Candian Amateur. “It was a privilege. Isaiah is a great player and a good friend. I’m happy for him.”
As per Salinda, he had expected Ban’s putt to fall in. “In match play, you always have to expect your opponent to make it,” Salinda said. “After he did miss, I knew I just had to two-putt.”
Along with getting support from McNealy and other Cardinal teammates via texts, Salinda also got in-person help from his caddie, teammate Chris Meyers. Meyers’ father, Dan, is a member of the Spyglass Founders Club.
“Chris was a huge help,” Salinda said. “He kept me loose. Overall, it was a very intense match. I just stayed patient.”
August 17, 2017
Shintaro Ban and Isaiah Salinda are no strangers to one another, having routinely competed against each other in the West Catholic Athletic League during their high school days.
Now, the two will face each other for the NCGA’s ultimate prize.
Ban, now a senior at UNLV, and Salinda, a junior at Stanford, each punched their tickets to Friday’s 36-hole final of this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship after yet another grueling day at par-72 Spyglass Hill.
Looking to become the first back-to-back champion since John Catlin (2010-2011), the No.3 seeded Ban moved on with a 1-up win over Matt Cohn in the quarterfinals, followed by a 2 and 1 victory over No.7 Daniel Connolly. In the match versus Cohn, Ban trailed over 10 holes. He wouldn’t take the lead until a birdie on the par-3 15th. Against Connolly, he fell behind two holes through seven.
Having won last year, however, the 21-year-old Ban knew he just had to hang in there.
“It’s a grind. It kind of hit me today….the fatigue,” said Ban, who birdied the 11th and 15th holes to shake off Connolly. “I know it’s a long week. You can’t ever get ahead of yourself. You just have to stay in the moment.”
The No.4 seeded Salinda, who prior to this year had never made it past the opening Round of 32, also put in work. The 20-year-old opened with a tight 2 and 1 win over Jason Anthony, later following that up with a convincing 5 and 4 win over Bryan Baumgarten.
A member at the Olympic Club, Saliinda has yet to trail in any match.
“Even though I didn’t make it into the U.S. Amateur, I felt good coming in here,” Salinda said. “I was looking forward to this week.”
In eliminating Baumgarten, Salinda showed his comfort level. A stretch of three straight birdies from holes No.11 through No.13 would be the knockout blow. The longest of the three birdie putts was an 8-footer.
“It was a nice run,” Salinda said.
For both players, there’s just one more big hurdle.
“I’ve known Isaiah for a while now. He’s a great player,” Ban said. “I just have to stick with my plan. Just minimize misktakes.”
“I’m looking forward to the final,” Salinda said. “It should be a great match.”
Friday’s 36-hole final will begin at 7 a.m.
The No.2 seed was sent packing, while the No.3 and No.4 seeds marched on.
Stanford senior Bradley Knox, the No.2 seed, saw his run end when No.7 Daniel Connolly eagled the 19th hole (par-5 1st) to dramatically end their match.
Defending champion Shintaro Ban, the No.3 seed, also had a tight match. The UNLV senior had to come back from a two-hole deficit before finally edging No.11 Matt Cohn. All-square through 14 holes, Ban finally grabbed a 1-up lead with a birdie on the par-3 15th. He and Cohn, the 2015 runner-up, went on to halve the remaining three holes.
Also squeaking out a win was No.4 Isaiah Salinda. Salinda, a junior at Stanford, knocked out No.28 Jason Anthony, 2 and 1. The pair were all-square through 14 before Salinda won with a birdie (No.15) and par (No.16). Anthony entered the event leading in the points standings for NCGA Player of the Year honors.
Bryan Baumgarten, a sophomore at the University of Illinois, didn’t sweat as much. The Granite Bay GC member won his quarterfinals match over Jesse Bratz, 5 and 4.
August 16, 2017
Defending champion Shintaro Ban and NCGA Player of the Year points leader Jason Anthony are among those still kicking in the brackets after a long Wednesday at par-72 Spyglass Hill.
No. 1 seed Finigan Tilly of Cal, who set a record with his stroke play qualifying score of 10-under 134, was not as fortunate. He’d fall, 4 and 3, in the Round of 16 to No.17 Bryan Baumgarten.
Ban, a senior at UNLV, and Anthony, who’s coming off a win at the recent NCGA Valley Amateur, punched their tickets to the quarterfinals oif this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, earning 5 and 4 and 4 and 2 victories, respectively, in the Round of 16.
Looking to become the first repeat champion since John Catlin in 2011, the No.3 seeded Ban will next take on No.11 Matt Cohn. Cohn, who opened the day by dispatching Four-Ball partner and friend Nick Moore 2-up in the Round of 32, is no stranger to taking on the big name. In 2015, the San Francisco resident reached the finals before falling to eventual champion Maverick McNealy.
The No.28 seeded Anthony, who had to survive a playoff to just get into the match play brackets, started his day with a tight 1-up win. In the afternoon, the Green Valley CC member had more breathing room, knocking out No.21 Noah Woolsey, 4 and 2.
In Thursday morning’s quarterfinals, Anthony will take on No.4 Isaiah Salinda. Salinda, a junior at Stanford, had to toil in the Round of 16 before finally getting past Mike Stieler, 1`-up. The 50-year-old Stieler was the oldest player remaining in the brackets.
The other quarterfinals matches will see Baumgarten taking on No.8 Jesse Bratz and No.2 Bradley Knox facing No.7 Daniel Connolly.
Bratz, a junior at UC Davis, cruised to a 5 and 4 Round of 16 win over Jonathan Yoshihiro. Both Knox, a senior at Stanford, and Connolly, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University, were pushed to the limit in the Round of 16. Knox finally got past Roman Aragon with an eagle on the 19th hole (par-5 1st). Connolly, who recently captured the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play title, needed 20 holes to get past No.23 Minsu Lee. The difference would be a Connolly par to a Lee bogey on No. 2.
Following Thursday morning’s quarterfinals it’ll be on to the semifinals. The first semifinals match is set to tee of at 12;30 p.m.
Friday’s action will see the 36-hole final.
August 15, 2017
Defending champion Shintaro Ban made a move, while Cal’s Finigan Tilly and Stanford’s Bradley Knox held firm on the second day of stroke play qualifying at the annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
Ban, who won last year’s event en route to earning NCGA Player of the Year honors, fired a bogey-free 6-under 66 Tuesday at par-72 Spyglass Hill to climb into third place and claim the No.3 seed for match play. A day after a ho-hum 72, the UNLV senior was flawless, carding an eagle (par-5) and four birdies.
“It was a lot better,” Ban said.
While Ban charged up the leaderboard, Tilly and Knox stood their ground in record fashion.Tilly, a sophomore at Cal, fired a 4-under 68 to finish as medalist with a 36-hole score of 10-under 134. The 134 total is two shots better than 2015 medalist and champion Maverick McNealy’s stroke play qualifying record of 8-under 136. The 10-under par mark is also the low 36-hole total for any NCGA event that’s been held at Spyglass Hill.
Knox, a senior at Stanford, also finished lower than 136, coming in at 9-under 135 to claim second place and the No.2 seed for match play.
The No.4 seed will be Isaiah Salinda of the Olympic Club, who finished fourth at 139 following a 70.
The cutline for match play (low 32) came at 2-over 146. Among those advancing were 2015 runner-up Matt Cohn (142), 2015 NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore (145), 2016 runner-up Eddy Lai (146) and recent NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champion Daniel Connolly (140).
Wednesday’s play will see both the Round of 32 and Round of 16.
August 14, 2017
It’s Cal and Stanford who are atop the leaderboard after day one of stroke play qualifying at this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at par-72 Spyglass Hill.
Finigan Tilly, a sophomore at Berkeley, and Bradley Knox, a senior at The Farm, grabbed first place and second place after coming in Monday with scores of 66 and 68, respectively.
Tilly, a former Junior Tour of Northern California member, couldn’t have asked for much of a better beginning. Starting on the back-nine, the San Carlos resident opened with three straight birdies en route to a front-nine 34. After making the turn, Tilly continued to have the hot hand, carding five more birdies to go against just one bogey.
Knox, who reached the Round of 16 at June’s California Amateur at the Olympic Club, was just as efficient, penciling in three birdies and an eagle (par-5 7th) with just one bogey.
Three players are tied for third at 69 including San Francisco’s Daniel Connolly, who’s coming off a runner-up finish at the NCGA Valley Amateur. Green Valley CC member Jason Anthony, who won the Valley Am and entered the championship holding the No.1 spot in the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors, is T-20 after a 72.
Jeff Gilchrist, one of the oldest players in the field, is T-11 after an opening 71. Defending champion Shintaro Ban, the 2016 NCGA Player of the Year, was also tied for 20th, as was 2015 Player of the Year Nick Moore.
Following Tuesday’s second round, a cut will be made with only the low 32 advancing to match play. Wednesday’s action will consist of both the Round of 32 and Round of 16. Thursday’s play will see the quarterfinals and semifinals. The 36-hole championship final will take place Friday.
August 11, 2017
The oldest of the NCGA’s major events, the Amateur Match Play Championship, dates back to 1903 when it was first played at San Rafael GC.
The antique sterling silver trophy reveals a who’s who of historical Northern California amateur golfers including Pebble Beach course designer Douglas Grant, Charlie Seaver, Lawson Little Jr., as well as current and past PGA Tour players Kevin Sutherland, Arron Olberholser, Spencer Levin, Matt Bettencourt, Roger Maltbie and Ray Leach.
Varying formats have been used over the 106 years of competition but today the tournament is 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, followed by a 32-person seeded match play bracket. The one-day final match is a 36-hole test of stamina and concentration after a week of golf at Spyglass Hill. The match play event has been played at Spyglass Hill every year since 1966, with the exception of 1996 when the course was closed due to renovations.
The largest winning margin was in 1930 when Herbert Schultz beat Hugh Ditzler by 11 & 10 at Castlewood GC, this was equaled in 2004 when Spencer Levin claimed the title. The longest final match was seen in 2007 when Ryan Hallisey triumphed on the 39th hole over Jeremy Gearhart, equaling the record set in 1947. Notable runner-up finishers include Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller, with Jack Neville having finished runner-up more than any other player, five times.
At the 2015 championship, Stanford junior and No.2 world-ranked amateur Maverick McNealy set a championship record for low round during stroke play qualifying with a 7-under 65. The 65 was a low for any NCGA event held at Spyglass Hill. McNealy’s two-day stroke play total of 8-under 136 also was a championship record and is the low 36-hole total for any NCGA event that’s been held at Spyglass Hill.
The event often determines the NCGA’s Player of the Year award with 700 points awarded to the winner. Multiple-time Player of the Year winners Casey Boyns and Randy Haag have both claimed the championship twice. Over 300 players attempt to qualify for the championship each year and the event is open to anyone with a handicap index of 5.4 or less.