by Jack Persons, AmateurGolf.com
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (July 13, 2014) --
Rave reviews, but a little rough around the edges. This, of course, is an apt description of the newly redesigned Poppy Hills Golf Course as well as NCGA Stroke Play champion Bobby Bucey’s glorious beard.
Bucey won the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship on Sunday after three testing rounds and two playoff holes on a very firm and fast new course.
“It’s feels amazing. It’s surreal,” Bucey told the NCGA in an interview. “With the course playing so tough, it felt like a mini major, like a British Open.”
He posted final round three-over 74 for a six-over 219 tournament total, and none of it came easy.
After starting off with two consecutive bogeys, he birdied the third and fourth holes to get back to even for the day. Another bogey on five, followed up with birdies on seven and nine, put him at one-under for the day and two-over for the tournament going into the final nine holes.
The new Poppy Hills seemingly bared its teeth on the back nine, as Bucey made double-bogey on 11, bogey on 13, and double-bogey on 15. Like that, his cushion was gone, and the rest of the field was in the mix again.
His birdie on 16 was very important, as it would be the difference that got him into the playoff. He barely missed a birdie on 18 for the outright title, and had to watch as his playing partner Brandon Wu forced a playoff with a birdie on the last hole.
Wu, who also shot 74 in the final round, headed out to the first hole with Bucey, but could not get anything going. Both players missed the green and could not convert their par putts, so they moved on to the second hole to settle the championship.
It was Bucey who would separate himself on the very next hole, as he struck a perfect seven-iron to two feet on the par three, and converted his birdie putt after Wu three putted the tricky green for bogey.
“I wanted to play it off the right slope. The first time it didn’t work out, when I saw it hit that second time, I knew it was going to end up close,” Bucey said.
Jeremy Sanchez, who made a hole-in-one and established the new Poppy Hills course record during his round on Saturday, finished with a final round 75, one stroke out of the playoff at seven-over 220. Ben Corfee and Matt Seramin, both players at UC Davis, finished the event fourth and fifth, respectively.
To check out full results, as well as AmateurGolf.com's course redesign review, follow the links below.
Poppy Hills Redesigned: A Pebble Beach, California Course Review