July 23, 2019
When Matt Cohn won the NCGA Public Links Championship in 2016, it marked his first NCGA victory. As his good friend and seven-time NCGA champ Nick Moore told him at the time, “Welcome to the club.”
Cohn’s climb up the club ladder has reached another rung.
On Tuesday at Poppy Hills, the 38-year-old San Francisco resident captured his third career NCGA title and second NCGA Public Links Championship crown after knocking off Adam Canepa on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff.
“I’m just trying to catch up with Nick,” quipped Cohn.
On the deciding playoff hole (the par-5 9th), Cohn reached the green in two from 238 yards out using a hybrid. Canepa’s 218-yard attempt to get on in two, meanwhile, skipped through the green onto the cart path, eventually stopping just on the other side of the Sousa Bridge on hole No.10. Not wanting to take a drop, Canepa hit a beautiful shot off the path onto the fringe beyond the flagstick. But his 30-yard chip shot and birdie try didn’t fall in. Cohn, meanwhile, calmy putted from 35-feet for birdie to seal the deal.
“The last five times I’ve played that hole (No.9) I hit the green using a hybrid,” Cohn said. “The playoff was like the rest of the day. I hit it well. I just didn’t putt well.”
The two, who tied the first two playoff holes (No.10 and No.11) with pars, finished regulation with identical scores of 1-over 143.
Canepa, a 34-year-old caddie at Pebble Beach Golf Links, had shot the low round of the day, a 69 that included a birdie on No.9. Cohn shot a 73 that included a clutch par on the 18th to stay in contention.
“I played good. Leaving putts short in the heart doesn’t get it done,” Canepa said. “I’ve got to learn to get the ball to the cup.”
Coming into the event, Cohn had been in somewhat of a slump. In fact, he called his own game “terrible” until the NCGA Mid-Amateur in June. What did he do to get his game back? Nothing. He just kept playing.
“I knew I was going in the right direction,” Cohn said. “People had asked me, ‘What are you doing differently? What happened was that I just started hitting better shots. It wasn’t a great putting performance. That’s something I still need to work on. But in 20 years I won’t remember that. I’ll remember that I won the tournament.”
Third place went to Drake Mendenhall at 144 following a 73.
Golden Gate Flight
E-Club East Bay member Al Varga went wire-to-wire to win the Golden Gate Flight. Varga shot a second round 71 to finish with a two-day total of 7-under 135.
Second place went to Wayne Card of Gold Hills CC at 138 after a 71. Three-players tied for third at 141–Kieran Clifford, Greg Zipp and Jason Lotridge.
Dev Rahal, a member at Valley Oaks GC, shot a second round 69 to come in at 6-under 136 to win by seven shots.
Ian Barclay of E-Club San Francisco was second at 143 after a 74. Mike Freire of Empire Ranch GC and Dean Narahara of E-Club East Bay finished third at 144.
Rahal, 41, suffers from a rare form of cancer that is eating away at his spinal discs. The pain can be so severe that he cannot ride in a cart. He plans on going to Germany, Switzerland or Barcelona for surgery hopefully in 2020.
“I just wanted to play,” a teary-eyed Rahal said. “I didn’t know how I would play.”
July 22, 2019
Sacramento State senior Joshua Diaz and former champion Matt Cohn got the jump on the field as the annual NCGA Public Links Championship got underway Monday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Diaz and Cohn grabbed a share of the first round lead with matching scores of 1-under 70. Diaz had three birdies and a bogey and would card a 33 on the opening nine. Cohn, who won the title in 2016, also had three birdies and a bogey. The San Francisco resident would shoot a back-nine 34.
Drake Mendenhall, a junior at the University of Arizona, is alone in third place at 71.
Four players–Taylor Daniels, Joe Yagmourian, Mark Stephens and Matthew Sterling–are tied for fourth at 72.
Defending champion Ben Peters withdrew. Nick Moore, who has won the title each of the past three odd years (2017, 2015, 2013), opened with a 77 and is in 17th place.
The championship concludes Tuesday at Poppy Hills.
Golden Gate Flight
Al Varga of E-Club East Bay shot a 7-under 64 to take the first round lead. Roberto Esparza of Table Mountain GC and Jason Lotridge of E-Club North Bay are tied for second at 66.
Valley Oaks GC member Dev Rahal took the first round lead with a score of 4-under 67.
Dean Narahara of E-Club East Bay and Iain Barclay of E-Club San Francisco are tied for second at 69.
July 15, 2019
The NCGA Public Links Championship began in 1966, and is the premier event for public-course players.
The 36-hole stroke play Championship is contested by a field of 32 players. It coincides with the NCGA Public Links Net Championship (see below).
Contestants must be public course players who do not hold playing privileges in any course from which the general public is excluded.
Ryan King holds the scoring record set in 1999 of six-under-par 138. Only three players have managed back-to-back victories, Mike Powers in 1972 and 1973, Mitch Thomas in 1978 and 1979, and Scott Hardy in 2010 and 2011. Four-time NCGA Player of the Year Casey Boyns still reigns with the most NCGA Public Links wins, having claimed the trophy four times.