October 8, 2019
When the winning putt finally fell in, Mike Stieler looked at partner Danny Paniccia and raised his fists to the sky.
Not only was it a win, but it was finally over.
Stieler, the superintendent at Spring Creek GC, sank a 9-foot putt on the NCGA record 11th hole of a sudden-death playoff (the par-4 17th) at Poppy Hills Golf Course to clinch a second NCGA Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Championship title for he and Paniccia. The duo outlasted the team of 2019 Senior Player of the Year Randy Haag and 2019 NCGA Player of the Year Jason Anthony after both came in with matching scores of 15-under 127 after regulation.
The previous longest playoff had been Nick Moore’s dramatic 9-hole playoff win at the 2015 NCGA Valley Amateur, which occured in 100 degree heat and helped Moore clinch Player of the Year honors.
“Being that we did it against those two guys (Haag and Anthony), it’s bittersweet,” Stieler said. ‘It was epic.”
It wasn’t the first time Stieler and Paniccia and Stieler have had to go the extra mile. When they won the title in 2017 at Poppy Ridge, Paniccia closed out an extra-hole victory by sinking the winning putt.
“Winning never gets old,” said Paniccia, who works at Sunnyside CC and also coaches the women’s and men’s golf programs at Fresno City Community College. “It’s always fun to win one with my partner.”
Haag and Anthony, both members at Olympic Club, had been looking for their third title in four years. The two came in as defending champions and winners in 2016. With a win, Haag would’ve won a record fifth Mid-Amateur Four-Ball title (he’s currently tied with James Hay at four). Haag also would’ve passed Casey Boyns for most NCGA men’s wins. They are both tied at an amazing 16.
“It’s disappointing,” Anthony said afterrwards. “You work that hard and come up short. But they played great. They deserve it.”
Paniccia and Stieler had opened the championship with a record score of 11-under 60. They’d slip to a final round 67, which opened the door for Anthony and Haag, who caught them with a 62.
During regulation, Paniccia missed a 10-footer for birdie on the 18th hole that would’ve sealed the win.
Just missing out on the playoff was the tandem of Nick Moore and Matt Cohn. They’d come in at 14-under 128 following a 66 that included three straight birdies to close their round.
“We just didn’t get any putts to go in until the last three holes,” Cohn said.
October 7, 2019
It’s a who’s-who of teams either on top of the leaderboard or in contention after day one of the annual NCGA Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
Danny Paniccia and Mike Stieler, who won the event in 2017 and have proven to be a formidable duo, jumped to the leaderboard in Monday’s first round with a tournament record 11-under 60 in ideal conditions at Poppy Hills. The previous low mark had been a 10-under 62, shot by Mark Hill and Brandon Toll at the 2017 championship at Poppy Ridge.
Paniccia and Stieler, who used to work together at Riverbend GC (now Dragonfly GC) and remain the last team to win back-to-back NCGA Four-Ball crowns (2013-14), posted an eagle and nine birdies on the day.
Just two strokes behind the leaders is the tandem of Nick Moore and Matt Cohn. Moore, the NCGA Player of the Year in 2018, and Cohn, the winner of this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship, also opened strong. They’d post a 62 thanks to five birdies and two eagles (par-5 9th and 18th holes).
Lurking at five strokes back, meanwhile, is the tandem of defending champions Jaso
Anthony and Randy Haag and the team of Brian Jones and Steven Christophel. Haag and Anthony, who also won the event in 2016, posted eight birdies. Jones and Christophel also had eight birdies.
Haag shares the record for most wins in the event (four) with James Hay.
The father-son duo of Jeff and Pat Burda are in ninth place at 68.
October 4, 2019
First played in 2004 at Poppy Ridge, the NCGA Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Championship is a two-person, better-ball scratch event for NCGA members 25 years of age and older (from 2004-2015 it was called the NCGA Master Division Four-Ball Championship for players 40 and older). The duo of Terry Foreman and James Hay won the first three championships, and in 2008 Hay won a fourth championship with partner Mark Hill. In 2014 the event returned to Poppy Ridge. The tourney record for low 36-hole score is 127, set by 2018 winners Jason Anthony and Randy Haag. The 18-hole record is 10-under 62, shot by Mark Hill and Brandon Toll at the 2017 championship at Poppy Ridge.Hay and Haag share the record with four career victories.