Poppy Hills GC
July 7-9, 2017
July 9, 2017
Albeit he had a comfy five-shot lead entering the final round, San Francisco resident Daniel Connolly told himself otherwise.
“I convinced myself that I was two back,” Connolly said. “The most important thing was not to play defense, and to not second guess myself.”
Connolly didn’t shoot in the 60’s again, but an even-par 71 was easily good enough for Connolly get what he came for. The 20-year-old Southern Methodist University sophomore claimed his first NCGA title, winning the annual Amateur Stroke Play Championship Sunday at Poppy Hills GC by six shots over runner-up Derek Ackerman.
:Afterwards, the only thing Connolly had left to do was to drink a beer out of the trophy.
“It’s great. I was looking at some of the names on the trophy—Ken Venturi, George Archer, Ernie Pieper, Jr.—it’s phenomenal,” Connolly said. “I struggled a bit today but just stayed patient.”
The only player to shoot par or better each of the three rounds, Connolly’s 54-hole total of 5-under 208 set a new championship low since the 2014 renovation of Poppy Hills. Robby Salomon won in 2015 with a total score of 209.
Connolly’s biggest push came in Friday and Saturday’s first and second rounds. He opened with rounds of 68 and 69, respectively. The stroke average for the field on Friday was 80.604. In Saturday’s second round, Connolly was 10 shots better than the average score.
“I love this course. It suits my game well,” Connolly said. “I love how it plays fast and firm. Those first two rounds I just putted well. I was just steady.”
Things didn’t start so great for the 2016 San Francisco City champ in the finale. He’d open the door a bit with a double-bogey on the 3rd hole. A birdie on No.6 got him back on track.
“I was a bit nervy at the start. Having the lead is great but it also brings expectations,” Connolly said. “I just kept trusting myself.”
After getting back to 5-under with a birdie on No.14, he’d give that back with a bogey on the ensuing 15th. A hole later on the 16th, he’d just get back to business, holing out for birdie from a bunker.
“I toed a 3-wood and it hooked into the bunker. I thought I hit it long but it checked up and went in. It was the shot of the day,” Connolly said.
Each of the three days, Connolly was helped along by his father and caddie, Martin, who owns the most popular Irish bar and restaurant in The City (Johnny Foley’s). Afterwards, one of Martin’s Irish pals suggested the trophy be filled with Jameson’s.
“I really like having my dad on the bag. We work well together and he knows my game,” Connolly said. “But more than that he knows me as a person. If things don’t go well, it’s not the end of the world.”
Ackerman, who plays out of Half Moon Bay GC, had a final round 71 to come in at 1-over 214. Third place went to fellow San Francisco resident Matt Cohn at 215 following a stellar round of 68.
There were two hole-in-ones in the finale. Noah Woolsey aced the par-3 15th, while Ian Oehlschlaegar aced the par-3 6th.
July 8, 2017
San Francisco’s Daniel Connolly is a round away from capturing his first NCGA title.
Connolly, the winner of the 2016 San Francisco City Championship, put up his second straight solid round—a 2-under-69—on Saturday at par-71 Poppy Hills GC to increase his lead to five strokes at this weekend’s annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship. A day after opening with a 68, the Southern Methodist University sophomore was the epitome of steady, carding 17 pars to go with an eagle on the par-5 9
A day after opening with a 68, the Southern Methodist University sophomore was the epitome of steady, carding 17 pars to go with an eagle on the par-5 9th.
Connolly’s two-day total of 5-under 137 is on pace to set a new standard. The lowest 54-hole total for the championship since Poppy Hills’ 2014 renovation is 209, shot by 2015 winner Robby Salomon.
Connolly remains the only player in the field to shoot under par. The scoring average on Saturday was 79.047.
Anthony Madrid, who started the round three behind Connolly, didn’t do anything wrong but lost ground on the leader. The AmateurGolf.com member had an even-par 71. Now alone in second place, five shots back, Madrid had four birdies but also a pair of bogeys and a damaging double-bogey on the par-4 4th.
In third place at 143 after a 71 is Half Moon Bay GC member Derek Ackerman.
Fellow S.F. resident Matt Cohn, who also began the day three strokes behind Connolly after the first round, shot 76 and is now T-9.
The cutline (low 40 and ties) came at 11-over 153.
July 7, 2017
When Daniel Connolly won the 2016 San Francisco City Championship in his hometown, he did it in freezing winds and rain.
On Friday at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Connolly again had his game in top form. This time under clear blue skies.
The Southern Methodist University sophomore grabbed the early lead in this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, posting a solid 3-under 68. The only player to break par in the first round, Connolly posted six birdies to go against three bogeys. He’d make his biggest move on the back-nine, carding a 33 that included back-to-back birdies on hole Nos. 12 and 13.
Three players–Castlewood CC member John Fracisco, AmateurGolf.com member Anthony Madrid and 2016 NCGA Public Links champion Matt Cohn—are tied for second, three shots behind Connolly, following matching rounds of 71.
Cohn, who also hails from The City and started on the back-nine, went on to card four birdies following an early double-bogey on the 13th hole. Fracisco, who also started his day on the back-nine, was 4-over through his first eight holes before rebounding with an eagle on the par-5 18th.
In a tie for fifth at 72 are Half Moon Bay GC member Derek Ackerman and Olympic Club member Mike Staskus. Staskus, one of a handful of seniors in the field, had a wild day, posting six birdies to go against three bogeys and a quadruple-bogey on the par-4 10th.
Following Saturday’s second round a cut will be made with the low 40 and ties advancing to Sunday’s final round.
July 6, 2017
One thing’s for sure come this year’s annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship. Former CSU-Monterey Bay standout Robby Salomon will be not be three-peating as champion.
That’s because Salomon, who won last year’s event in a sudden-death playoff, has since turned professional.
So who are some of the favorites heading into this year’s 54-hole championship?
Green Valley CC member Jason Anthony will enter the event holding the No.2 spot in the 2016-2017 NCGA Player of the Year points standings. Along with a win at last year’s NCGA Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Championship, Anthony has runner-up finishes at the this year’s NCGA Four-Ball Championship and Mid-Amateur Championship.
The winner of this year’s Mid-Amateur—Oakhurst CC member Bobby Bucey—is also in the field. Bucey will be looking for his fourth career NCGA crown.
Speaking of NCGA titles, there’ll also be record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag. Currently leading in the NCGA Senior Player of the Year points standings, Haag is still looking for one more non-NCGA Senior title, which would tie him with Casey Boyns (16) for the most career NCGA titles (non-Senior).
Other players to keep an eye on include defending Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year Thomas Hutchison, two-time Big Sky Conference Player of the Year Aaron Beverly, 2015 NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore and 2015 S.F. Cty champ Daniel Connolly.
Don’t look for scores to be too low. In the previous three Amateur Stroke Play Championships held on the new Poppy Hills, the lowest 54-hole total is Salomon’s 4-under total from his 2015 victory.
Following Saturday’s second round, a cut will be made with the low 40 and ties advancing to Sunday’s final round.