June 23, 2018
Concord resident Bobby Bucey reached the pinnacle of amateur golf in the Golden State.
Bucey, a three-time NCGA champion and the No.11 seed, won the coveted California Amateur Championship on Saturday, defeating runner-up and No. 4 seed Hidetoshi Yoshihara, 1-up, in the 36 hole final at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad. The 29-year-old Bucey, who becomes the oldest champion since Kevin Marsh in 2012, joins the likes of Ken Venturi, Johnny Miller and Mark O’Meara as champions of the prestigious event.
“It doesn’t feel real. It hasn’t sunk in,” said Bucey afterwards. “it was such a mental grind. I feel like I still need to stay ready.”
A member at Oakhurst Country Club, Bucey mounted a memorable comeback to take the crown. After the morning round, he trailed Yoshihara, a sophomore at UCLA, by three holes.
To make matters worse, Yoshihara quickly upped his advantage to 4-up in the afternoon following a birdie on the 20th hole (No.2).
Bucey, however, didn’t budge. Still down four holes, Bucey made back-to-back birdies on the 24th and 25th holes to quickly cut the deficit in half. Another win on the 27th hole (Yoshihara made bogey) and another birdie on the 28th hole, and the match was not only back to all-square, but momentum had clearly shifted to Biucey’s favor.
“I didn’t feel terrible about it (being four down). I was hitting the ball great. I just couldn’t get any putts to drop,” Bucey said. “I knew I could still put some pressure on him.”
With only five regulation holes left, Bucey fell back one with a bogey on the 32nd hole, but again came back with a birdie on the ensuing 33rd hole to again make it all-square. On the 35th hole, Yoshihara made bogey. The two halved the closing par-5 36th hole, sealing the victory for Bucey.
In the afternoon round, Yoshihara shot a stroke play score of 75. Bucey had a 70 with four birdies.
During the entire week, Bucey had his father, Bob, on the bag as caddie. His mother, Karen, meanwhile watched every shot.
“it’s fantastic having them both out there,” Bucey said. “It’s a calming influence.”
It was the second straight win for Bucey over a former state champion. Both Yoshihara ( 2016) and semifinals opponent Tyler Guo had won CIF State High Boys’ Individual crowns. Guo got into the Cal Amateur thanks to his victory at this year’s championship.
The 2019 California Amateur Championship will be held at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach.
June 22, 2018
It’ll be Northern California vs. Southern California in Saturday’s 36-hole finals of the 107th California Amateur Championship.
Hidetoshi Yoshihara of Irvine, a junior at UCLA and the No.4 seed, and Concord’s Bobby Bucey, the No.11 seed, will square off after both players made it through Friday’s quarterfinals and semifinals at La Costa Resort.
Yoshihara crushed Forbes Collins II, 6 and 5. On the front-nine, Yoshihara fired a 2-under 34 while Collins struggled to a 41. By the time the two made the turn, Yoshihara held a commanding 6-up lead and never looked back.
Should Yoshihara win in the finals, it would mark his second State crown. In 2016, he;d capture the CIF Boys’ State High School Individual title at San Gabriel CC.
Bucey, a three-time NCGA champion including the 2017 Mid-Amateur, earned his way to the finals via a tight 2 and 1 victory over No.18 Tyler Guo. Coming off a runner-up finish at this year’s NCGA Mid-Amateur, Bucey took a 3-up lead with a birdie on No.10. Guo would come back with wins on the 11th and 12th via a birdie and par, respectively, but Bucey was able to regain a 2-up lead and hold on.
Should the 29-year-old Bucey win the title, he’d become the oldest winner since Don Dubois (46 years old) won the title in 2005.
No.17 seed Forbes Collins II and No.4 Hidetoshi Yoshihara were the first to punch their tickets to the semifinals, advancing with 6 and 5 and 4 and 3 wins, respectively.
Colllins II broke down the door early, going 4-under through just the first six holes. Yoshihara, who eliminated former NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore, took advantage of an off day for Moore. A six-time NCGA champion, Moore would post five bogeys.
In the afternoon’s other semifinal, it’ll be No.11 Bobby Bucey vs. No.18 Tyler Guo of Irvine. Bucey came back from a 4-hole deficit through five to knock out Noah Woolsey, 3 and 2. Guo eliminated Evan Knight of Davis, 1-up.
Woolsey would go 7-over plus a pick-up X over his final 10 holes.
June 21, 2018
A quartet of players with Northern California ties moved a step closer to capturing the ulitmate prize at this week’s annual California Amateur Championship.
Nick Moore, the 2015 NCGA Player of the Year and No.21 seed, advanced to the quarterfinals at La Costa Resort with a solid 4 and 3 Round of 16 win over No.5 David Kim.
A six-time NCGA champion in his career, Moore has been in a groove. The 36-year-old Moore, one of the oldest players left in the brackets, has played his 32 holes of match play at 7-under. He’ll next take on Hidetoshi Yoshihara, the No.4 seed. In 2016, Yoshihara won the CIF Boys’ High School State title.
Also moving on was No.7 seeded Evan Knight of Davis following a 2-up win over Corby Segal. All-square through 15 holes, Knight came up with clutch birdies on both the 16th and 18th holes to close the door. He’ill next face No.18 Tyler Guo of Irvine.
The last quarterfinals match will be an NorCal duel, with No.11 Bobby Bucey facing No.3 Noah Woolsey. Bucey, winner of the 2014 NCGA Stroke Play Championship, knocked out No.6 Ryan Sloane, 1-up. A see-saw match throughout, with the match still all-square Bucey broke through with a birdie on the 17th to go 1-up. The two would have the 18th.
Woolsey, a former standout on the Junior Tour of Northern California, defeated No.14 Jeffrey Inouye-Wong, 5 and 4. Woolsey, now a sophomore at University of Washington, has been a buzzsaw. He’d win his Round of 32 match, 4 and 3. In his 5 and 4 victory, he’d go 6-under through 14.
Another quarterfinals match will be an all-SoCal affair, with No.17 Forbes Collins II taking on No.9 Zhao Jin. Collins knocked out Dan Sullivan, who ousted No.1 seed Cody Hall in the Round of 32. Jin eliminated No.25 Eddy Lai, Lai, runner-up at the 2016 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, had a 2-up lead through 12 holes but Jin played the final five holes of the match at 3-under.
Friday’s play will consist of the both the quarterfinals and semifinals.
June 20, 2018
The brackets opened Wednesday at the 107th California Amateur Championship at La Costa Resort, and the No.1 seed was quickly sent home.
No.1 seed Cody Hall, a senior at CSU San Bernardino, was bounced in the Round of 32, falling 3 and 1 to veteran Dan Sullivan. Sullivan, the defending SCGA Player of the Year, went on an early spurt–winning holes No.3 through No.6 in succession–to build a fast 4-up lead and never looked back to earn a spot in the Round of 16.
While Hall fell, No.2 seed Brad Reeves of Woodbridge continued to play solid golf. The University of Arizona standout opened with an eye-opening 7 and 6 win over Riverside’s Michael Wong. Reeves shot a front-nine 31 en route to building a commanding 5-up lead through nine. A Wong bogey at No.10 and another Reeves birdie at No.11 sealed the deal.
Also moving on to the Round of 16 were No.3 seed Noah Woolsey of Pleasanton (4 and 3) and No.4 Hidetoshi Yoshihara (1-up).
San Jose’s Eddy Lai, the runner-up at the 2016 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, pulled off one of the day’s bigger upsets, as the No.25 seed defeated No.8 Jacob Westberg, 2 and 1. Up by a hole, Lai got some help when Westberg made bogey on the 17th.
Nick Moore, the 2015 NCGA Player of the Year and No.21 seed, marched on to the Round of 16 with a 4 and 3 victory over No.12 Tommy Stephenson of Oceanside. Moore was in a groove, playing his 16 holes at 4-under.
No.7 Evan Knight of Davis also moved on, winning his match, 2 and 1.
One Round of 16 match will feature former NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champion Bobby Bucey, the No.11 seed, taking on No.6 Ryan Sloane. Sloane was the first round leader at this year’s NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
In another all-NorCal match, Woolsey will face No.14 Jeffrey Inouye-Wong, who outlasted Brett Viboch with a dramatic win on the 21st hole.
June 19, 2018
Cal State San Bernardino standout Cody Hall earned the No.1 seed for match play at this week’s California Amateur Championship, but there’s a number of Northern California players who will look to take him down in the brackets.
Hall shot a stellar second round 6-under 66 on the Champions Course at La Costa Resort to finish stroke play qualifying at 5-under 139, earning medalist honors by one shot over runner-up and No. 2 seed Brad Reeves of Woodbridge. Reeves, who plays at Arizona, came in at 140 following a 71.
Finishing in a tie for third at 141 following rounds of 71 and 70 were Pleasanton’s Noah Woolsey and Irvine’s Hidetoshi Yoshihara, respectively.
Other Northern California players claiming high seeds in the 32-man match play brackets were Ryan Sloane of Campbell and Evan Knight of Davis (T-5, 142) and Jacob Westberg of Sacramento and Bobby Bucey of Concord (T-8, 143). Sloane just recently was the first round leader at the NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship. Bucey would finish runner-up at the championship.
NorCal’s Brett Viboch, coming off a first round 75 and needing to make a move, did just that with a second round 70 that included a hole-out eagle on the par-4 9th.
In the North/South Challenge, which features six of the best of the SCGA taking on six of the NCGA’s best for the Roger Lapham Trophy, the NCGA took the title, 731-734, after both squads shot identical second round scores of 367. In Monday’s first round, the NCGA grabbed a 364-367 lead.
The NCGA was led by a 71 from Finigan Tilly and a 73 from Ryan Gronlund. The SCGA was paced by a pair of 70’s from Hidetoshi Yoshihara and Dan Sullivan.
Wednesday’s action will consist of the first round of match play. Thursday will see the Round of 16, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday. The 36-hole finale will be held Saturday.
June 18, 2018
Players began jockeying for position as the stroke play qualifying portion of this week’s annual Califonia Amateur Championship got underway Monday at par-72 La Costa Resort in Carlsbad.
Four players–including Northern California’s Thomas Hutchison, Brad Reeves of Woodbridge and Colt McNealy of Portola Valley–are tied atop the leaderboard after Day One with identical scores of 69.
Hutchison, who now plays at UC Davis and was Player of the Year on the Junior Tour of Northern California in 2016, got going with six birdies to go against three bogeys. McNealy, the younger brother of former Stanford star and now professional Maverick McNealy, was also solid, carding five birdies with just two bogeys. Reeves, who plays at Arizona, posted an eagle (par-5 10th), four birdies and three bogeys.
Also posting 69 was SoCal’s Tyler Guo.
Seven players are at T-5 including Steve Woods of Campbell, Noah Woolsey of Pleasanton and Jeffrey Inouye-Wong of Roseville. Woolsey, a freshman at University of Washington, has competed in both the U.S. Junior Championship and US. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Woods is coming off a T-11 finish at the recent NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship.
Only the low 32 following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play qualifying will move on to the match play brackets.
In the North/South Challenge, which features six of the best of the SCGA taking on six of the NCGA’s best for the Roger Lapham Trophy, the NCGA leads after the first round, 364-367. The SCGA was led by a 71 from Hidetoshi Yoshihara. The NCGA was paced by two 71’s by defending NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champion Daniel Connolly and Eddy Lai.
The California Amateur Championship is one of the nation’s oldest state amateur golf championships and dates back to 1912 when the California Golf Association was founded. The California Amateur Championship was originally held at Del Monte GC but shifted to Pebble Beach Golf Links when it was built in 1919.
The championship remained at Pebble Beach through 2006, with the exception of 2000 when it was played at Bayonet and Blackhorse GCs due to the U.S. Open being hosted at Pebble Beach. In 2006, the championship began a new tradition of rotating to courses around the state, alternating between Northern California and Southern California.
The tournament has seen many top names including Ken Venturi in 1951, Johnny Miller in 1968, Bobby Clampett in 1978/1980, Duffy Waldorf in 1984 and Mark O’Meara in 1979. Standout golfers who have tried to win the title and failed, include Craig Stadler, Corey Pavin, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Woods reached the semifinals in 1994 before falling to Ed Cuff. The oldest champion remains Vern Callison, who won in 1967 at the age of 47. Mac Hunter is the youngest champion, having won in 1972 at the age of 16.
Another big part of the annual California Amateur Championship is the North-South Challenge. The Challenge features six Northern California amateurs competing against six Southern California amateurs, counting the best 5 out of 6 scores for the two rounds of stroke play for the Roger Lapham Trophy.
Representing the NCGA in 2018 will be 2017 NCGA Player of the Year Jason Anthony, 2016 San Francisco City champion Daniel Connolly of Southern Methodist University, Ryan Gronlund of Universty of Oregon, Peter Kuest of Brigham Young University, Eddy Lai of UCLA and Finigan Tilly of Cal-Berkeley.
The Challenge will run during both the first and second rounds of stroke play qualifying.