July 8, 2018
When former CSU Monterey Bay standout Robby Salomon won the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship in 2015, he had good friend Nick Moore on the bag as caddie.
This time, the roles were reversed, as Moore knocked off yet another good friend, Matt Cohn, to win his first Amateur Stroke Play crown.
Moore, a 36-year-old caddie at Cypress Point Club, bounced back from a lost chance to win outright, making bogey on the first hole (par-4 10th) of a sudden-death playoff to defeat Cohn on a sunny Sunday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
The win marked Moore’s 7th career NCGA title, tying him with Talbert Smith and Scott Hardy for third on the all-time NCGA win list. The only sour part was that the win came over Cohn. Friends since 2012, Moore and Cohn routinely pair up in events such as the NCGA Four-Ball Championship.
“It’s a nice win. Ultimately, I want to see us both play well,” Moore said. “If I’m not going to win, I want Matt to win. If Matt isn’t going to win, I want to win.”
Moore’s previously had two NCGA hat-tricks going. His six earlier NCGA wins were three Valley Amateur titles and three Public Links crowns. In recent years, his fortunes at the Stroke Play Championship hadn’t been nearly as favorable.
“The first time I played in the Stroke Play was 2012, and I finished solo in second. Since then, I hadn’t medaled,” said Moore, who finished with a three-day total of 1-over 214 after a final round 74. “This is one of the tournaments that I had wanted to win.”
Cohn, who earlier this year won the NCGA Mid-Amateur title, was the first in the clubhouse at 214 after a 73. Playing in the group behind, both Moore and St. Mary’s sophomore Michael Slesinski came to the 18th with a win in their sights. Slesinski, who needed an eagle to come in at 214, had to settle for a birdie on the closing hole for a 78 and 215 total. Moore, meanwhile, had a 15-foot birdie putt for the win that lipped out.
“I knew I had that putt to win it. Robby (Salomon) had run up to check the scores,” Moore said. “I thought I made it but it broke a little bit more than I thought.”
In the playoff, Cohn pulled his drive left into the 16th fairway. His second shot went into the hazard on the right side of the 10th fairway. After dropping, he’d land in the greenside bunker. Moore got on the green in three (he layed up short right) and two-putted for the win.
“On my second shot (from the 16th fairway), I had a choice of a hero shot or punch shot. I figured Nick was going to make a 4 so I went for it. It didn’t do what I thought it would,” Cohn said.
Moore and Salomon, who won back-to-back Stroke Play titles in 2015 and 2016 and is now professional, got together after the two played a practice round on Thursday. “I asked him if he wanted to come out and caddie,” Moore said. “I was happy to have him out there.”
Next up for Moore will be a shot at trying to get into this year’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links. He’ll play in a 36-hole qualifer Wednesday at his home course, Bayonet/Black Horse GC in Seaside.
“Hopefully, this carries over,” Moore said. “It’d be a dream to play in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble.”
July 7, 2018
St. Mary’s men’s head coach Scott Hardy has already left his mark at the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, having won the championship in both 2004 and 2011.
Now, one of Hardy’s players could be following him down victory lane.
Gaels sophomore and first round co-leader Michael Slesinski continued his stellar play, carding a 1-under 70 Saturday at par-71 Poppy Hills GC to move atop the leaderboard with a two-day total of 5-under 137. The lowest winning score since Poppy Hills re-opened in 2014 is 5-under 208, shot by 2017 winner Daniel Connolly.
A day after shooting 32 on the back-nine, Slesinski carded a bogey-free 33 on the front-nine with two birdies.
Entering Sunday’s final round, Slesinski will hold a comfy three-shot lead over Santa Clara’s Derek Ackerman and former NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore. Ackerman, a senior on the Broncos, stayed in the hunt with a 71 that featured an eagle on the par-5 9th. Moore, a six-time NCGA champion, also posted a 71 with two birdies and two bogeys.
Also in the immediate mix at 141, four shots back, are 2018 NCGA Mid-Amateur champion Matt Cohn and E-Club South Bay member Anthony Gutierrez. Cohn, a two-time NCGA winner, fell back with a 74 a day after carding 67. Gutierrez had the round of the day, posting a sensational 66 featuring six birdies with just one bogey. Gutierrez would post a sizzling 31 on the front-nine.
George McNeely of Carmel, a current Junior Tour of Northern California member, is alone in sixth place at 144 after his second 72.
The cut came at 11-over 153. All three McNealy brothers in the field–Colt, Scout and Dakota–made it to Sunday.
July 6, 2018
The lowest winning 54-hole score at the annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship since Poppy Hills’ renovation is 5-under 208, shot by 2017 winner Daniel Connolly.
Maybe it was the nearly perfect weather, but so far scores look headed lower a year after.
Matt Cohn, who won the NCGA Mid-Amateur at Poppy Hills just a month ago, and former Junior Tour of Northern California member Mikey Slesinski set the early pace on Friday, carding matching rounds of 4-under 67. Cohn, who lives in San Francisco, posted six birdies to go against just two bogeys. His birdies included a three-in-a-row stretch from holes No.13 through No.15. Slesinski, who plays at St. Mary’s College, had a routine par-35 on the front-nine. On the back-nine, he’d go 4-under with four birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on the par-5 13th.
Also going low were former JTNC member Derek Ackerman and six-time NCGA champion Nick Moore, with each posting a 69. Ackerman, who plays at Santa Clara, also got hot on the back-nine, posting five straight birdies from holes No.12 through No.16. Moore, the 2015 NCGA Player of the Year, was steady, posting two birdies and 16 pars.
Also in the mix at 70 is Domingo Jojola. Jojola, who was in the hunt at the NCGA Mid-Amateur, opened with a 70. Tony Padilla, the defending NCGA Senior Championship winner, and Darren Fegley were also strong, each posting rounds of 71.
Following Saturday’s second round, a cut will be made with the low 40 and ties advancing to Sunday’s final round.
First played in 1944, the NCGA Stroke Play Championship has a special history, as the tournament has been won by the likes of Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller. But the event was cancelled in 1966 when the NCGA decided to add the now-popular Four-Ball Championship.
The original championship was played over 72 holes, while the renewed format which began in 2004, is a 54-hole event staged at Poppy Hills every year. During the Poppy Hills renovation in 2013, the championship was held at Bayonet/Black Horse GC in neighboring Seaside.
Kevin Lucas and Ben Geyer share the 54-hole tournament record with a score of 11-under-par 205. Lucas posted his 54-hole winning score in 2010 at Poppy Hills GC, while Geyer fired his 205 total in 2013 at Bayonet GC. Talbert Smith has won the championship more than any other player, four times, in 1946, ’48, ’56 and ’57. Other multiple winners include Ken Venturi (’51 and ’52), Verne Callison (’58 and ’59), Scott Hardy (’04, ’11), Ben Geyer (’12 and ’13) and Robby Salomon (’15 and ’16).
Kevin Lucas and Jonathan De Los Reyes share the record for low round since the tournament was re-established in 2004 with 65’s. De Los Reyes’ 65, shot in 2015, set a course record at the time at Poppy Hills.
The sterling silver perpetual trophy was donated by the San Francisco Examiner in 1944.