California Amateur Championship
July 27-Aug.1| Torrey Pines GC
August 1, 2020
There were a number of perils at the 109th California Amateur Championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course.
A set up that at times stretched the course to a championship 7,800-plus yards. An opening Round of 32 where just about every top seed found themselves heading home.
Through it all, the hometown guy, Joey Vrzich of La Jolla, emerged as the champion, winning the title with a 3 and 2 victory over Charlie Reiter in the 36-hole final on the South Course. The No.11 seed, Vrzich joins a list of champions including Ken Venturi (1951, 1956), Johnny Miller (1968) and Mark O’Meara (1979).
In what was an amazing run, Vrzich only trailed over two holes during all of his rounds of match play. In the Round of 16, he fell 1-down on hole No.7 but won the next hole. In the quarterfinals, he fell 1-down on the second hole. but won No.3 to tie things up. Overall, Vrzich played 95 of his 97 total holes either tied or holding the lead.
Facing the No.25 seeded Reiter in the final, it was the same story. Vrzich opened with three straight birdies to immediately grab a 3-up lead. Reiter, a junior at University of San Diego, came back with three consecutive birdies of his own on holes Nos. 5 through 7 to tie things up, but Vrzich regained a 1-up lead with a birdie on No.9.
Still holding a 1-up lead entering the afternoon portion, Reiter bogeyed the 19 hole (No.1) to give Vrzich a 2-up lead. Vrzich took advantage, winning holes Nos. 21 and 22 to again take a commanding 4-up lead. Reiter would never get closer than 2-down the rest of the way.
Vrzich was one of four Pepperdine Waves to advance to the Round-of-16 in match play — not surprising given the Div. 1 golf team’s No. 1 national ranking at the end of the shortened NCAA season. When three of his teammates (Dylan Menante, Braden Fioroni, and Josh McCarthy) were eliminated, Vrzich carried the torch.
July 31, 2020
Northern California players saw their run at the 109th California Amateur Championship come to an end on Friday.
In the afternoon semifinals, both No.23 seed Caleb Shetler of Saratoga and No. 21 Chase Sienkiewicz of Carmichael fell.
Sienkiewicz, who plays at University of Arizona, lost 3 and 1 to No.25 Charlie Reiter. The match was tied through 14 holes, but Reiter, a junior at nearby University of San Diego and the No.25 seed, won holes Nos. 15 through 17 in succession to quickly put an end to any drama.
Shetler, meanwhile, lost 4 and 3 to No.11 Joey Vrzich. A sophomore at San Jose State, Shetler also saw his opponent go on a big run. With a win on the 11th hole, Shetler trimmed a two-hole deficit to just one. Vrzich, a senior at Pepperdine, won holes Nos. 12 through 14 in succession, however, to take a commanding 4-up lead. The two tied the 15the hole, ending the match.
In the morning quarterfinals, Sienkiewicz first broke through a deadlocked match with Sam Sommerhauser with a par win on the 11th hole to go 1-up. Later on the 15th, Sienkiewicz made birdie to go 2-up. Another birdie win on the 17th sealed a 3 and 1 win.
Shetler moved on to the semis via a convincing 5 and 4 win over Harrison Kingsley. Shetler played the front-nine at 3-under par, propelling him to a quick 4-up lead through eight. Still 4-up, a par win on the 15th finished the victory for Shetler.
July 30, 2020
The quarterfinals brackets are set at this year’s 109th California Amateur Championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course. And there’s still four NorCal players in the hunt for the big prize.
Caleb Shetler of Saratoga, Rocklin’s Sam Sommerhauser, Chase Sienkiewicz of Carmichael and Pleasanton’s Alexander Chin all made it through Thursday’s Round of 16.
Shetler, the No.23 seed, advanced with a 3 and 2 victory over No.7 Puwit Anupansuebsai. A sophomore at San Jose State, Shetler grabbed a 1-up lead with a par win on the 1st hole before building a 3-up lead through seven with another par win. Anupansuebsai soon after won holes 8 and 9 to cut the lead to -up, but Shetler won holes 11 and 12 to re=establish a 3-up cushion. A late birdie on the par-3 16th sealed the win for Shetler.
In what was a NorCal duel, the No.20 seeded Sommerhauser ousted No.4 Josh McCarthy, 1-up. A freshman at the University of Arizona, Sommerhauser trailed by two holes through nine before turning it around. He’d win holes 11 and 13 to tie things up. An eagle later on the par-4 14th, and Sommerhauser held a 1-up lead. McCarthy, a former standout at Pepperdine, won hole 16 to tie things up yet again but Sommerhauser won the 17th with a birdie. The two tied on the 18th with pars.
Chin, a senior at University of San Francisco and the No.30 seed, moved on with a 3 and 2 win over Dylan Menante. Chin’s big charge came when he won holes 8 through 10 in succession via birdie.
Sienkiewicz advanced with a 1-up victory over Youssef Guezzale. Guezzale held a 1-up lead through 16 holes but Sienkiwicz came back with wins on the 17th and 18th holes for the win.
Friday’s action will see both the morning quarterfinals and afternoon semifinals. The 36-hole final will be held Saturday.
July 29, 2020
There’s a saying that anything can happen in match play. On Wednesday at the 109th California Amateur Championship at Torrey Pines GC, what happened obliterated the brackets.
Each of the top three seeds–No.1 Stephen Hale, No.2 Torey Edwards and No.3 Mikey Slesinski–all saw their match play dreams end as fast as the Round of 32 arrived.
Hale, a former pro who regained his amateur status, fell to No.32 Kevin Tassistro on the 20th after making a bogey. Tassistro, who designs wedges for Titleist, took a 1-up lead on the first hole. He’d never hold more than a 1-up lead, yet also never trailed in the tight match.
Edwards, meanwhile, found himself getting waxed by No.31 seed Harrison Kingsley. Kingsley, a junior at nearby University of San Diego, While Kingsley played his first eight holes at 1-under par, Edwards came out sluggish, making bogeys on five of the first eight holes. The 5-up lead taken by Kingsley was too much to overcome.
Stuck in a NorCal duel with No.30 Alexander Chin, Slesinski took a quick 1-up lead with a birdie on the opening 1st hole. Chin, who plays at University of San Francisco, quickly tied the match with a birdie of his own on No.2. With the two still tied through 15 holes, Chin broke through with a pair of par wins on the 16th and 17th holes to close out a 2-up win.
Josh McCarthy, the No.4 seed, did emerge unscathed following a 3 and 2 victory over Blake Brothers. The defending NCGA Amateur champion, who formerly played at Pepperdine University, took a 3-up lead with a birdie on the par-3 11th. The two would tie the next five holes.
The carnage also saw No.5 seed Anthony Truong fall (5 and 4) and No.6 Matt Cohn lose 1-up. Cohn, a multiple NCGA champion, held a 3-up lead through nine.
Thursday’s action will see the Round of 16, Featured matches there include McCarthy taking on fellow NCGA region player Sam Sommoerhauser, The No.20 seed, Sommerhauser opened with an impressive 5 and 4 win.
The only other two NorCal players left alive are Chin and No.27 Brad Reeves. Reeves helped deliver one of the big upsets, knocking out Cohn.
July 28, 2020
Former Cal-Berkeley standout Stephen Hale will be the No.1 seed when match play begins Wednesday at this week’s California Amateur Championship at Torrey Pines GC.
Hale, who attempted a professional career but then opted to move back to Bakersfield and resume amateur play, shot a second-round 1-under par 71 Tuesday on the South Course to finish stroke play qualifying with a medalist-earning 36-hole total of 7-under par 137.
Five players–including NorCal’s Mikey Slesinski, defending NCGA Amateur champion Josh McCarthy and Matt Cohn–all finished T-2 at 138. Of the 18 players who finished with scores of 4-under 140 or better, only five hail from the NCGA region. Ian Dahl, who won the 2019 NCGA Stroke Play title, and Garret Wagner of Brentwood, are the others. Overall, only 10 NorCal players made the cut, which came at 2-under 142.
In Wednesday’s Round of 32, Hale will open versus No.32 seed Kevin Tassistro of San Marcos. The No.2 seed, former mini-tour pro Torey Edwards, will square off against No.31 Harrison Kingsley.
The No.3 seed, Slesinski will take on Chin, the No.30 seed. Slesinski plays at St. Marys, while Chin is senior at University of San Francisco. The No.4 seed, McCarthy will face No.29 Blake Brothers.
In the North/South Challenge, which annually pits six NCGA players versus six players from the SCGA (best five-of-six scores), the SCGA cruised to a 361-367 win. A day after trailing by one, the SCGA won the second round, 361-367. Representing the North are Mendenhall, Christian Banke, Josh McCarthy, Sean Yu, Sam Sommerhauser and Brad Reeves. The South team is Devon Bling, Bo Jin, Andi Xu, Joey Vrzich, Dylan Menante and Puwit Anupansuebsai. As the champs, the SCGA receives the Roger Lapham Cup.
The Round of 16 will be Thursday, with the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday. The 36-hole final is Saturday.
July 27, 2020
Eight players opened the stroke play portion of this week’s 109th California Amateur Championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Monday with scores of either 5-under par or 6-under par.
But it was one of the scores that really stood above them all. Torey Edwards, perhaps feeling at home on the course, sizzled on the tougher South Course. The former mini-tour pro shot a 6-under 66 on the U.S. Open layout, posting five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 9th to offset just one bogey.
How good was Edwards’ round? The rest of the players on the South Course averaged a score of 75.14.
The only player to shoot a 66 was former Cal-Berkeley standout Stephen Hale. Playing the North Course, Hale posted seven birdies to go against just one bogey. On the back-nine, he’d card a bogey-free 33.
The six players at 67 include recent NCGA Public Links champion Drake Mendenhall.
In the North/South Challenge, which annually pits six NCGA players versus six players from the SCGA (best five-of-six scores), the NCGA leads, 342-343. Representing the North are Mendenhall, Christian Banke, Josh McCarthy, Sean Yu, Sam Sommerhauser and Brad Reeves. The South team is Devon Bling, Bo Jin, Andi Xu, Joey Vrzich, Dylan Menante and Puwit Anupansuebsai. The winner of the Challenge receives the Roger Lapham Cup.
Following Tuesday’s second round, a cut will be made with the low 32 advancing to match play.
July 24, 2020
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.