CARMEL, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2008) – John Pietro, the head pro at The Preserve Golf Club, warned golfers at the start of the Stocker Cup Invitational that he would be going “hog wild” with pin placements on Sunday, and he didn’t lie.
So it was fitting that as the final field of 20 golfers to make the cut struggled with the course’s lightning-quick greens, the only golfer to break par on the final day was rewarded with the Stocker Cup victory.
Joe Sanders, the winner of the 2007 Trans-Miss Four Ball (with Ryan Mitchell), birdied the final two holes to take a two-stroke victory over amateurgolf.com California Mid-Am winner Chris Marin and two-time U.S. Mid-Am champ Tim Jackson. Sanders, a resident of Incline Village, Nevada, finished at 1-under-par 287 after putting up rounds of 74-70-72-71.
Marin had a four-stroke lead with four holes to play, but ran into trouble on the vicious 15th hole when his approach shot settled above the hole. His birdie try careened past the cup and didn’t stop rolling until it was 25-yards away on the fairway. He ended up making triple bogey without hitting one real poor shot on the hole, giving Sanders the opening he would need.
“I made a good par on 15 with that really tough pin and my buddy who was out spectating told me that someone was 3-under and I was 1-over,” said Sanders. “I told my girlfriend, ‘Let’s birdie the last three and see if someone comes back.’”
Waiting to tee off on 16, he saw the difficulties golfers below him were having on the 15th green and realized that he was still well in the hunt.
Sanders nearly missed a birdie chance on 16, but responded by carding birdie on 17 after sticking his approach shot to within three feet, and on 18 with his longest putt of the day, an 18-footer.
“I didn’t make a putt longer than four feet all day, but it was nice to curl that one in,” said Sanders.
Marin finished in a tie for second with Jackson at 1-over 289, followed by 54-hole leader Steve White at 291.
The chase for the Elliott Cup, a 54-hole best-ball team competition that pits one of the scratch A-Players with a B-Player competing at their assigned handicap from the gold tees, began Saturday with a logjam atop the leaderboard But in the end, it was the team of Brady Exber and John Rodenburg taking a one-stroke victory.
Rodenburg noted that he made “a mile of putts” while Exber didn’t miss a single fairway all day as the pair finished at 22-under 194 (68-63-63).
Exber, a Nevada amateur stalwart who finished tied for 8th at 295, was comparing his B-Player partner to Ben Crenshaw by the end of the day because of his skill with the flatstick.
***** amateurgolf.com reporter's notes *****
- Steve White, who played his collegiate golf at Clemson, also got his round off to a hot start on Friday, acing the 189-yard second hole with a 7-iron. It was his fourth career hole-in-one.
- The blooper of the day came when Sanders bent down on the 11th hole to assess his lie, only to rip his pants. "My girlfriend an I were laughing so hard I didn't think I could make the two-footer," he said. "But I made it, maybe that helped lighten things up."
- The character of the tournament was B-Player Kitt Flood. The Irishman seemed to try to outdo himself each day with his outfits, which included a combover wig, mullet wig and bright pink shirt, purple pants combo on Saturday. Kitt's brother Ronan caddies for Padraig Harrington.
- Ryan Mitchell had the low round of the tournament, carding a 66 on Day 2 (one stroke off the course record.) "I made everything looked at today," he said after the round. "That was the first time I've had no bogeys and no fives."
- We're not exaggerating the speed of the greens, which was mentioned by every golfer we talked to throughout the week. On Sunday, one golfer faced an 18-footer that he failed to get over a ridge bisecting the green, only to see the putt roll back to him, then past him and 15 feet onto the fairway. "First time I've putted a ball that ended up behind me," he remarked.
- There were golfers from 17 states represented in the A-Player field, going as far west as Pennsylvania (Chip Lutz).
- Mary Craig got a nice ovation at the tournament dinner for her behind-the-scenes work bringing the tournament together.
The Stocker Cup, played in memory of Peter Stocker, is held each October at The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel. The field is comprised of 52 world-class mid-amateur invitees, who meet stringent eligibility requirements, and pay a minimal fee for their participation. Offering both NCGA and national Golfweek and amateurgolf.com - Bridgestone Player Rankings points, the Stocker Cup also holds a one-day qualifying tournament for regional players who were not among the original invites. On October 2, eighteen competitors with a handicap index of 2.4 or lower vied for the final two A-list spots in the main tournament. Hank McCusker and Stephen Molinelli joined the field after carding 68 and 71, respectively, at Harding Park in San Francisco.
Those final A-list golfers are complimented by a matching number of qualified B-list competitors, with invitations extended to friends, relatives and associates of the late Peter Stocker, as well as to various sponsors and other supporters of the event. Every A-player is teamed with a B-player in a handicapped best-ball competition held simultaneously with the individual stroke-championship.
Final results from the Stocker Cup Invitational Golf Tournament, held at The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel, CA (6,974 yards, par 72). The final round (top 20 A players only) was played on Sunday, October 19th.