August 6, 2019
Jason Melvin had admittedly been in a bit of a slump. Any bad mojo from that is now gone.
Melvin, who plays out of Bayonet/Black Horse GC, captured his first NCGA title, posting a final round 3-under 69 Tuesday at par-72 Oakdale Golf and Country Club to win the annual Valley Amateur Championship by three shots over a group of four players.
The 47-year-old Melvin, who was the only player to break 70, posted four birdies to go against just one bogey in the finale. He’d entered the day a stroke behind first round leader Jason Anthony.
“I fell into it,” said Melvin, who finished at 4-under 140. “I haven’t been playing particularly well lately, so I’m very excited.”
Melvin had played in NCGA events for years. He’d just never been able to get an elusive win.
“I’ve got a lot of the bag tags to prove that I’ve played a long time. So yeah, I’m excited,” Melvin said.
Finishing in a tie for second at 143 was the quartet of Grant Johnson, JJ West, Drake Mendenhall and Ryan Meyer. The four also were looking for their first NCGA victory.
Anthony, who opened with a 70, slid back into a T-10 finish after posting a 76. Despite the loss, Anthony increased his lead in the NCGA Player of the Year standings. The 2017 NCGA Player of the Year, Anthony moved to 1,556 points. Matt Cohn, who finished T-17, was in second at 1,101.
Serrano CC member Mark Morgan has joined Gary Vanier on top of the Senior Valley Am mountain.
Morgan, 59, shot a final round 4-under 68 to break away from the field and win the title by two shots over runner-up Randy Haag. The victory was Morgan’s record-tying third Senior Valley Am crown and he becomes only the second player to go back-to-back. Gary Vanier, who had been the lone three-time winner, went back-to-back in 2006-’07 and also won in 2013.
“I’ve been on a roll lately,” said Morgan, who finished with a two-day total of 5-under 139. “I made some putts.”
Having entered the final round tied with Haag, Morgan, who also won in 2018 and 2016, was solid when it counted the most. He’d open with three straight birdies en route to a front-nine 35 and followed that up with a bogey-free, three birdie 33 on the back.
Haag, whose lengthy NCGA resume is lacking a Valley Am title, birdied the 17th to tie Morgan but closed with a bogey on the 18th while Morgan made birdie.
The second place finish did push Haag into first place in the NCGA Senior Player of the Year standings at 1,254 points. Morgan jumped to second place, 151 points behind Haag.
Scott Anderson and Tony Padilla finished T-3 at 149 after final rounds of 75 and 74, respectively.
August 5, 2019
When Jason Anthony won NCGA Player of the Year honors in 2017, one of the things that helped him was a win at the NCGA Valley Amateur.
The Olympic Club member could be setting himself up for something big again.
On Monday, Anthony took the lead in this week’s Valley Am, carding a 2-under 70 at Oakdale Golf and Country Club. He’s got plenty of company at the top, though. Just a shot back at 71 is a pack of six players–Grant Johnson, Jason Melvin, Evan Peterson, Alex Chin, JJ West and Ryan Meyer.
Another three players–Mike Stieler, Garrett Wagner and Drake Mendenhall–are just two off the pace after rounds of 72.
Entering the event, Anthony led in this year’s Player of the Year race with 1,451 points. Matt Cohn, recent winner of the NCGA Public Links Championship, was in second, 400 points behind Anthony. Cohn opened with a 75 and is T-19.
Both California Amateur runner-up Christian Banke and NCGA Stroke Play champ Ian Dahl, who hold the No.3 and No.4 spots, respectively, are not in the field.
Defending champ Jerry Ledzinski opened with a 79.
A trio of familiar names are on top of the leaderboard after Monday’s opening round.
Defending champion Mark Morgan of Serrano CC and Olympic Club member Randy Haag grabbed a share of the lead after matching opening scores of 1-under 71.
Morgan also won the event in 2016 and with another victory would join Gary Vanier (2006, 2007, 2013) as the only players to win three Senior Valley Am titles. Haag, the 2017 NCGA Senior Player of the Year, has never won a Valley Am title.
Just a shot back at 72 is former Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll. Knoll won the event in 2011.
Scott Terry and Scott Anderson are tied for fourth at 74.
July 31, 2019
Played for the first time in 2004 as a replacement for the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley championships, the NCGA Valley Amateur has become a staple in the tournament season.
Drawing exceptional players during the late summer, the Valley Amateur has 500 points up for grabs to the champion at a time when the Player-of-the-Year race is coming to a close.
The 36-hole stroke play event is played at a venue in the San Joaquin or Sacramento valley each year and provides a top-level championship opportunity. Nick Moore is the only player to have won the championship three times.
A senior division is also held with past champions including several Senior Player of the Year honorees: Carl Selkirk, Gary Vanier, Jim Knoll and Jeff Burda. Vanier is the only three-time winner of the senior division having won in 2006 at Elkhorn CC and in 2007 and 2013, both at Riverbend GC. Knoll is the only other multiple-time winner, winning in 2008 at Winchester CC and again in 2011 at Riverbend GC.
Trevor Clayton set the single round championship record in 2014, shooting a 10-under 62 at Reserve at Spanos Park. Clayton’s 36-hole total of 133 tied 2009 winner Steven Chung for low 36-hole total. In 2015, Nick Moore defeated Blake Hathcoat in a 9-hole sudden death playoff. With his win in 2016, Moore became the first player to win the Valley Am three times.