PASADENA, Calif. (August 6, 2013) — They say age is just a number, but it proved to be important Tuesday.
All quarterfinal matches at the 2013 SCGA Match Play Championship had one thing in common: They featured a mid-am golfer squaring off against a junior/collegiate one. And in all four cases, the young gun flexed his muscles, as the semifinals of the championship will feature three collegiate stars and 16-year-old Sean Crocker of Westlake Village (pictured), who has already committed to play his college golf at USC.
In the first match of the round, defending champion Niall Platt defeated two-time SCGA Mid-Amateur Champion Robert Funk 3 and 2. Platt's putter was on fire for most of the round, as the rising Notre Dame senior collected six birdies in the 16 holes played. He held a lead as large as four twice during the contest, eventually recording a biride on the 16th hole to close out the match.
Platt entered the tournament playing solid golf, having recently come in T3 at the SCGA Amateur Championship at San Diego CC. He will look to become the second player to win the Match Play Championship in back-to-back years, after Nick Delio did it in 2009 and 2010.
Platt has his hands full, though, as he will face the only other past champion in the field to get things started Wednesday morning. Anton Arboleda, the event's 2011 champion, defeated highly-decorated SCGA veteran Tim Hogarth in the quarterfinals 1 up.
Arboleda, a golfer at UCLA, and Hogarth were tangled in a tight battle throughout the match, which went all 18 holes before naming a winner. Hogarth jumped out to a bit of a better start, clawing his way to a 1 up lead two different times on the front nine, but the two entered the turn all square. Arboleda, however, took advantage of a bogey by Hogarth on the 11th hole, a par 4, 451-yarder, winning holes 11 and 12. He never looked back.
On the other side of the bracket it was much of the same, as mid-ams Mark Miller and Dan Sullivan, both Brookside GC members, hung in until the bitter end before falling to Crocker and Johnny MacArthur, respectively. Miller, like Hogarth, led early by as many as two holes, but Crocker faught his way back to take a permanent lead with a birdie on the 10th hole.
He would collect two more on the long 13th and 14th holes, hitting the green in two on the par 5, 489-yard 13th hole, to snatch the match away from Miller.
MacArthur, a recent graduate of Pepperdine University, probably played the best golf of the day, finishing off Joshua Park in theRound of 16 earlier Tuesday 8 and 7. He followed up that dominant performance with a 3 and 1 win over Sullivan, winning holes 14 through 17 to clinch the match late. He and Crocker will battle it out Wednesday for a spot in the finals.
In its sixth year, the SCGA Match Play Championship has never been won by a non-collegiate golfer. Crocker, just in high school, will look to be the first.
Semifinal action begins at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday morning, with the 18-hole final teeing off at 12:40 p.m. The championship is being held at Annandale CC in Pasadena.