MADERA – A bogey-free round is always good round, but a bogey-free round along with five birdies is even better, just ask Nick Moore of Seaside. After the first round of the 10th Annual NCGA Valley Amateur Moore holds a three-shot lead thanks to a 5-under-par 67.
“I think it’s every golfer’s goal to play 18 holes with no bogeys, so I’m pretty happy with that considering it doesn’t happen too often,” said Moore.
The 31-year-old mid-amateur started off his round with eight pars and one birdie on the front-nine, converting his lone birdie on the par-5 fourth to turn with a 1-under 35. Then on the back-nine things heated up with three consecutive birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13, before adding a final birdie on the par-4 16th.
“That was a nice little stretch to get me going,” said Moore of his birdies on Nos. 11-13, which he estimated were all made putts less than 15 feet in length.
Moore credited not only solid ball-striking and a few made putts for his good play, but a friend from San Diego who was on the bag for him, which helped him play loose. Going into tomorrow’s final round, Moore knows it will be important not to get ahead of himself and focus on one shot at a time. Luckily, Moore is a proven winner, having won the NCGA Public Links Championship less than six months ago.
“The game-plan for tomorrow is just to come out and play golf,” said Moore. “If I just focus on short-term goals—hole-by-hole—I think the overall outcome will take care of itself.”
The biggest threat to overtaking Moore and alone in second place is Mike Stieler, who fired a 2-under-par 70. The 46-year-old made a bogey early (No. 4) and a bogey late (No. 18) with four birdies in between, which came in pairs (Nos. 5/6 and 10/11).
Stieler, who is Riverbend’s course superintendent, knows the course better than any player in the field and has had a couple close calls the last couple years. Last year he shared the 18-hole lead and in 2011 he lost in a playoff. The Coarsegold resident hopes his course knowledge may give him a slight advantage as he knows that it has helped other past NCGA legends capture their various titles.
“It’s nice to be at my home track, I feel like Casey Boyns or Randy Haag at Spyglass” he said. “It’s nice to know every nook and cranny out here, but you still have to get it in the hole.”
Three players are tied for third place at even-par 72: Matt Cohn, Bradley Peil and Joe Huston. Three others are tied for sixth place at 1-over-par 73 including defending champion Danny Paniccia.
In the senior division Mel Collins, who was in the final group out of the afternoon teeing off at 2:21 p.m., leads with a 2-under-par 70. Collins’ front-nine was bookended with a birdie on No. 1 and bogey on No. 9 to turn at even-par 36. Then on the back nine, the Long Beach resident opened with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with seven straight pars to come in with a 2-under-par 34.
“I just hit the ball really good today,” said Collins, who hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation. “Tee to green was good, I just would like to putt the ball a little better.”
Two players are tied for second place as Jim Williams and two-time Senior Valley Amateur champion Gary Vanier each fired a 1-over-par 73. Williams of Orinda had a par-filled round, converting 15 pars along with a birdie (No. 2) and two bogeys (Nos. 8 and 16). Vanier’s round was much more volatile including four birdies and five bogeys. Starting on No. 10, the Pleasant Hill resident made two birdies (Nos. 11 and 15) and two bogeys (Nos. 14 and 16) on the back-nine to turn at even-par 36. Then to start his back-nine, Vanier opened with three straight bogeys on Nos. 1, 2 and 3 before following with birdies on Nos. 4 and 7 to come in with a 1-over-par 37.
Tied for fourth place at 2-over-par 74 are Nos. 1 and 2 players on the senior points list Jim Knoll and Casey Boyns along with David Ujihara and James Duncan. Defending Senior Valley champion, Jeff Burda, had to withdraw due to an injury on his hand.
The final round will commence Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the senior players going out first off of double tees.