MADERA – Nick Moore made things look easy for the second day in a row at the 10th Annual NCGA Valley Amateur Championship, winning the event Tuesday at Riverbend GC by five shots. As he stressed the day before, Moore did exactly what he said he planned to do and play golf one shot at a time.
“It was a good day,” said the newly crowned champion. “I stuck to the game plan and took it one step at a time.”
Following his first round 5-under-par 67, Moore fired a final round score of 2-under-par 70 to finish with a 7-under-par 137 total. Playing his first round without a bogey, the first-round leader nearly duplicated the feat again, making only one bogey Tuesday, which came on his 31st hole of the tournament (No. 13). In fact, the tournament looked well-in-hand early as the Seaside resident made birdies on Nos. 1, 8 and 10 stretching his lead to nine shots at that point.
“The birdie on the first hole really eased me for the day,” said Moore. “It was a pretty stress-free day.”
With the victory, Moore adds a second NCGA major title to his resume, the other coming earlier this year at the NCGA Public Links Championship. Having only played golf for about seven years, the 31-year-old has been pleased to see his game progress to this point.
“Overall, this year has been a really big step for me in the right direction,” said Moore, who also qualified for his first USGA event this summer.
Finishing in second place and firing the round of the day with a 3-under-par 69 was Austin Roberts of Carmichael. The 20-year-old, who had less than a stellar start with a 2-over-par 38 on the front, had an incredible back nine of 31, which included three birdies and an eagle-2 all in a five-hole stretch (Nos. 13, 14, 16 and 17).
“I played really solid, I’m happy with the way I finished today,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ 36-hole total put him alone in second place at 2-under-par 142, while tied for third place were Matt Cohn and Mike Stieler at even-par 144. Stieler, who started the day in second place, faded back to a tie for third following his opening round 70 with a final round 74, while Cohn posted a 72 for the second straight day. Defending champion Danny Paniccia finished alone in fifth place with a 36-hole score of 145, which included rounds of 73 and 72.
In the senior division, Gary Vanier added a third NCGA Senior Valley Amateur Championship title to his name with a two-day total of 1-over-par 145. Starting the day in a tie for second place, three shots off first-round leader Mel Collins, Vanier followed his opening round of 73 with an even-par 72.
“I hit the ball good; made a couple mistakes, but I putted really well,” said Vanier.
The Pleasant Hill resident started off nicely making birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 before dropping back to even-par with a bogey on No. 6 to turn at even-par. Despite a bogey on the 10th, Vanier kept his composure and made seven pars and a birdie (No. 16) over his final eight holes.
After two years of close calls—getting overtaken in the final round in 2011 and then double bogeying the 18th hole in 2012 to lose by two shots—Vanier’s third title in this event comes after a six-year drought, last winning titles in 2006 and ’07.
“It’s just nice to keep doing it,” said the 62-year-old. “As you get older you don’t know how much longer you’re going to be able compete at this level, but I’m just glad I’m able to do it.”
Vanier will come up shy of being honored with NCGA Senior Player of the Year due to his position on the points list, but arguably no senior player has performed better in 2013. With the victory Vanier adds a third NCGA Senior major to his name, having already won the NCGA Senior Championship in April and the NCGA Senior Four-Ball with partner Mark Miller in May.
“I’ve just been really focused and been trying to keep things as simple as I can,” said Vanier. “I’m not trying to be a hero out there, just hit it solid one shot at a time and it’s worked out well all year.”
Casey Boyns, who played in the penultimate group of seniors, finished one shot behind Vanier at 2-over-par 146 with rounds of 74 and 72 for second place. In third place at 6-over-par 150 was senior points’ leader Jim Knoll, who had rounds of 74 and 76. David Ujihara finished alone in fourth place at 7-over-par 151, while alone in fifth place was Jim Williams at 8-over-par 152. First-round leader Mel Collins had a disastrous final found, following his opening round 70 with a final round 84 to finish at 154 and tied for sixth place.