PEBBLE BEACH (Aug. 15, 2013) – A day and half after 32 players had a chance to win the 110th Annual NCGA Amateur Championship at Spyglass Hill GC now there are only two. Ben Geyer and Andrew Morgan will face off Friday beginning at 7 a.m. in a 36-hole match to determine the 2013 champion in what looks to be a promising final.
Geyer, the No. 13 seed, playing in the first semifinal match of the afternoon at 12:30 p.m. squared off against medalist and No. 1 seed Alex Franklin, who has displayed a great prowess at Spyglass over the previous three days. However, a couple mistakes by Franklin along with a couple of birdies by Geyer turned the match into Geyer’s favor to win by a 4-and-3 margin. Geyer who was 1-down after five holes won four consecutive holes with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, and pars on Nos. 8 and 9 to go 3-up. After failing to get up-and-down on No. 12 cutting his lead to 2-up, Geyer made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to go dormie-4 and close out the match on the 15th.
The Arbuckle native, who made it to 36-hole final of the 2012 California State Amateur Championship, won’t be leaning on that experience for tomorrow’s match, but instead hopes his putter continues to carry him throughout his matches.
“To have a hot putter is really nice, when I do putt well I’m usually in contention,” said Geyer.
In the second semifinal match all 18 holes were needed to determine a winner as No. 11 seed Andrew Morgan defeated 10th-seeded Corey Pereira 1-up. Morgan, who had yet to trail in any of his three matches, finally experienced his first deficit when he lost No. 8 with a double-bogey. Luckily for the 19-year-old the moment was ephemeral as he quickly squared the match back up when Pereira bogeyed the 10th, and recaptured the lead with a par on the 15th. From there all the Long Beach native needed to close out the match was three straight pars.
“I knew it was going to be a really good match because Corey is a great player, so I knew it would come down to the last hole,” said Morgan.
One thing the two players have had in common in each of their respective four matches thus far is that both players have been playing out in front of their opponents the past two days. Geyer, who trailed early in his round of 32 match, took early leads in his other three matches, while Morgan has taken a 1-up lead after the first hole in all four of his matches.
Geyer remembers getting down early in all of his California State Amateur matches in 2012, and realizes the uphill battle it can present by getting down early.
“I don’t lose badly it seems [when I get down early], but I’m fighting uphill. It’s nice to get an early lead because you feel that you have house money that you can play with a little bit,” said Geyer.
Despite his impressive starts thus far, Morgan, who is a redshirt freshman at Cal, is more focused on the match as a whole.
“No matter what the start is you have to keep plugging away and keep grinding,” said Morgan.
As both competitors know the finish is more important than the start as only one can be crowned the 2013 NCGA Amateur Match Play Champion.
Quarterfinal matches took place Thursday morning at Spyglass Hill GC with three of the four matches ending early and only one match going the full 18 holes.
The match to go the distance was the third match out at 7:30 a.m., which featured 18-year-old Pereira and 17-year-old Sebastian Crampton. Pereira looked to be following suit with the other matches as he took a 3-up lead after nine holes, winning Nos. 5, 6 and 9. After halving the next four holes, Crampton finally won a hole, making par on the par-5 14th, while Pereira bogeyed. Similarly on No. 16 Pereira erred again by making bogey, while Crampton made par cutting his lead 1-up. After trading birdies on the 17th to halve the hole, both players made par on the 18th allowing Pereira, the current NCGA Junior Champion, to advance by a 1-up margin.
In the first match out at 7:00 a.m., Franklin advanced beating No. 24 seed Cody Robinson 3-and-2. Franklin captured a 3-up lead early by winning Nos. 3, 4 and 5, which gave him enough cushion to fend off a couple charges by Robinson, who twice cut the lead to 1-up, but couldn’t get any closer.
In the second match out, Geyer beat mid-amateur and No. 5 seed Jeff Murphy 4-and-3, by only losing one hole all day. The two competitors halved the first six holes, and then traded holes with Geyer winning No. 7 and Murphy winning No. 8. Geyer, the 2012 and ’13 NCGA Stroke Play Champion, then won Nos. 9 and 10 to take a 2-up lead, and shortly thereafter won Nos. 14 and 15 to close out the match.
The final match of the morning at 7:45 a.m. was the largest margin-of-victory of the four as Morgan beat Ryan Knop 6-and-5. Morgan had yet to trail in a match and it looked like he very may well once again never get a match re-squared once he won the first hole again for his third straight match. However, after winning the first hole Knop won the second hole with a birdie re-squaring it briefly before a Morgan regained his lead by winning No. 3. From there on out the 19-year-old would only lose one more hole No. 5, while winning six others (Nos. 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12) to close out the match on the 13th hole.