June 10, 2018
After watching good friend Shintaro Ban advance through last week’s U.S. Open Sectional qualifier at Lake Merced Golf Club and the Olympic Club, San Francisco resident Matt Cohn said he felt inspired.
This time, it was his turn to come through in the clutch.
Cohn fired a day-low final round 4-under 67 and later made par on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course to defeat veteran Jeff Wilson and defending champion Bobby Bucey and win the 27th annual NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship. The victory is Cohn’s second NCGA title. In 2016, he captured the NCGA Public Links crown.
“I had a feeling about this one,” a smiling Cohn said afterwards.
During a practice round on Friday, Cohn, 37, was indeed playing well. But that game didn’t show up early on when championship play began. He’d play his first 11 holes at 4-over par.
He’d eventually get the train back on track, going 6-under through his final 25 holes to come in at 2-under 140 to tie Wilson and Bucey at the end of regulation.
“I don’t know what happened those last 25 holes,” Cohn said. “I just played the way I’ve been playing.”
The first player in the clubhouse at 140, Cohn was soon matched by Wilson, who came in with a solid 68. Bucey, playing in the last group, had a chance to win the title outright on the 18th by his putt missed. Looking to become the first repeat winner since Jeff Burda (1996-1997), Bucey, not knowing how things stood on the scoreboard, had layed up on his second shot.
“In hindsight, I thought that par was going to be good enough,” Bucey said.
On the first hole of the playoff (par-4 10th), Wilson knocked his drive right into the trees, leading to a bogey. Both Cohn and Bucey, meanwhile, reached the green in two and made routine pars.
On the ensuing par-3 11th, Cohn hit the green in regulation, while Bucey’s tee shot ended almost directly behind a tree near the 13th teeing area. Bucey would have to punch out left-handed, leading to an evenutal bogey. Cohn, who had begun the day five strokes behind leader Ryan Sloane, made par. Sloane finished a shot out of the playoff after slipping to a final round 141.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Cohn of his comeback. “You just come out and try to play your best.”
For Cohn, the timing of his first win of the 2018 season couldn’t be much better. He’ll next tee it up in the California Amateur at La Costa Resort beginning June 18.
“Things are definitely trending in the right direction,” Cohn said. “I think this win will help me not put so much pressure on myself down there.”
June 9, 2018
Campbell resident Ryan Sloane got off to a blazing start at the annual NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship.
Not with a 62 or 64, but with a 3-under 68 Saturday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course. Playing out of Birdie League, Sloane, a member of the 2017 NCGA Seaver Cup team, did have a chance to go much lower. The 39-year-old carded seven birdies, but he’d also post three bogeys.
As for how good the 68 was, no other player in the field was able to get into red figures.
Three players–Domingo Jojola, Randy Haag and defending champion Bobby Bucey–are all tied for second at even-par 71. Haag,the defending NCGA Senior Player of the Year, holds the record for most NCGA Mid-Amateur wins with four (1999, 2002, 2009 and 2013). Bucey is looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Jeff Burda in 1996-1997.
Green Valley CC member Jeff WIlson, who played in last week’s U.S. Open Sectional qualifier at Olympic Club and Lake Merced GC, is T-5 at 72. Others in the immediate hunt include former NCGA Public Links champion Matt Cohn and defending NCGA senior champ Tony Padilla, who are in a group of nine at 73. The group also includes Christopher Boyns, the son of NCGA Hall of Famer Casey Boyns.
Pat McDonald holds the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record with a seven-under-par 136 in 1994 at Lake Tahoe and Edgewood Tahoe GCs.
The NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship began in 1982 as the Master Division Championship, a competitive opportunity for players aged 40-54 who were not yet eligible for senior tournaments. In 2016, the event was re-named the Mid-Amateur Championship, opening up to all players aged 25 and over, with no upper age restriction.
The 36-hole stroke play championship was held for 11 consecutive years at Lake Tahoe and Edgewood Tahoe golf from 1990-2000. The championship then rotated through three courses over the next four years, Lake Tahoe (2001), Winchester (2002) and Squaw Creek (2003-04) before being hosted by Spyglass Hill for the following five years (2005-2009). In 2010, Spyglass Hill continued to host one day of the event with other Monterey area courses Poppy Hills (2010-12, 15), Bayonet (2013) and Del Monte (2014). In 2016, Spyglass fell out of rotation and the event was held at Black Horse and Poppy Hills golf courses.
Pat McDonald holds the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record with a seven-under-par 136 in 1994 at Lake Tahoe and Edgewood Tahoe GCs. The single round record of six-under-par 66 set in 1998 by Pat McDonald was tied in 1999 by four-time champion Randy Haag, who posted a 65 at the par-71 Lake Tahoe GC. Haag holds the record for most titles, having won four in a 14-year span 1999, 2002, 2009 and 2013. The only player to win back-to-back titles is Jeff Burda, who claimed the championship three times, in 1996, 1997 and 2005. Jim Knoll became the oldest player to win the championship at 59, in 2012.
The champagne bucket trophy was donated by two-time California State Amateur champion Ernie Pieper.