PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (June 21, 2013) – One thing was made certain at the conclusion of Friday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the 102nd California State Amateur Championship at Monterey Peninsula CC: An NCGA member will be crowned champion for the first time in four years.
Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis and Cory McElyea survived two rounds of golf Friday and will do it all-over again on Saturday for a 36-hole final which begins at 7:30 a.m.
With seven of the eight past champions coming from Southern California, NCGA players had a nice showing in this year’s championship with seven players advancing to the quarterfinals. None were better than DeChambeau and McElyea. Now one of them can add his name to the list of California amateur champions.
DeChambeau may never have a 13-hole stretch like he did Friday afternoon, going eight-under-par with six birdies and an eagle to beat Matt Hansen 5-and-4. Hansen, who wasn’t playing bad golf himself, going two-under-par over 13 holes couldn’t do much about his opponent’s hot play.
“I just kept trying to stick to my game plan by hitting as many as good shots as possible and make as many putts as possible” said DeChambeau. “Fortunately, I was able to do that and catch fire.”
Going into the final tomorrow the 19-year-old will stick to the same thing that’s been working all week and not deviate far from his game plan.
“I’m just going to try and play my best and not change anything,” he said.
In the other semifinal match McElyea went 19 holes with Fresno’s Pace Johnson. The match was incredibly even with one of the two players either holding a 1-up lead or the status being all-square for much of time. McElyea held a 1-up lead through 15 holes, but a bogey on 16 re-squared the match and after swapping pars on 17, it looked like a winner may very well be decided on the par-5 18th hole. Johnson was in prime position to close out the match, having a five-foot birdie putt to clinch the match, but he missed. Less than a minute later McElyea knocked in a four-foot par putt of his own to extend the match.
“You always got to think your opponent is going to make a putt that like that, so in that situation I thought it was over,” said McElyea.
With new life on the 19th hole, Johnson flared his tee shot into the right rough in front of a tree, while McElyea pummeled his drive down the center of the fairway. Johnson then came up 15 yards short of the green on his approach, while McElyea hit his approach 15-feet away. After a poor chip shot by Johnson that ran 20 feet past the hole, making him still away, his par putt coming back slipped by the hole; McElyea then calmly lagged his birdie putt to two feet for a conceded par.
The 21-year-old rising senior at University of San Francisco has had quite a week, having played in the U.S. Open at Merion last week. While he is admittedly “a little tired” McElyea says that he’ll be ready for tomorrow’s 36-hole match and will continue with the same approach he’s had all week.
“I’m just going to stick to what I’ve been doing,” he said.
Quarterfinal matches took place Friday morning with four players advancing to the semifinals Friday afternoon.
The first to advance was Hansen who beat Atherton’s Jonathan Garrick 4-and-2. Garrick held an early 1-up lead in the round before losing it and then regained it with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. However, from that point forward, some spectacular golf was played by Hansen as he won five holes on the back nine (Nos. 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16), four of them with birdies.
The second match of the morning and last to finish saw DeChambeau beat Seaside’s Nick Moore in 19 holes. DeChambeau won two holes on the opening nine (Nos. 3 and 5) to take a 2-up lead going into the back-nine, which saw very few halved holes. Moore got the match to all-square with an eagle-2 on the 11th—from 75 yards away in the rough—and a birdie on the 12th. A bogey on the picturesque par-3 14th gave DeChambeau a 1-up lead, but Moore quickly re-squared the match with a birdie on 16th. DeChambeau would then win the 17th with par and lose the 18th with a bogey, before winning with a par on the 19th hole.
The third match of the morning featuring McElyea and David Gazzolo of Riverside was fairly even the first 10 holes with no player gaining more than a 1-up advantage for more than one hole at a time. Then on holes 11-13, McElyea seized a commanding 3-up lead, thanks to two birdies and a double-bogey by Gazzolo. The Riverside resident would cut the lead to 2-up with a McElyea bogey on the 14th, but two more halves and a conceded par putt on the 17th gave McElyea a 3-and-1 victory.
Johnson got out to a quick 3-up after three holes over Danville’s Cody Blick as Blick bogeyed the first two holes and Johnson birdied the third. That lead went to 4-up after another bogey by Blick on the sixth, but three bogeys by Johnson on Nos. 7, 9 and 10 cut his advantage to 1-up. The 22-year-old though closed things out winning three more holes (Nos. 13, 15 and 16) to win 4-and-2.