STOCKTON, Calif. (Sept. 18, 2014) — Trevor Clayton knew exactly what was at stake, and he came through.
Clayton, who lives in Fresno, shot a final round 1-under Thursday at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park, wrapping up not only the NCGA Valley Amateur Championship title, but also NCGA Player of the Year honors. The 20-year-old, who is red-shirting this year and will begin attending Fresno State in the fall of 2015, finished the 36-hole championship with a total of 11-under 133, defeating runner-up Jeff Hoffman by four strokes.
“It feels really good to win,” said Clayton, who is attending Fresno City College this year after leaving CSU Stanislaus. “I didn’t win anything this summer and I put in a lot of work. So this feels good.”
In winning the title, Clayton also took over the top spot in the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors. The win boosted Clayton to 1, 317 points. Matthew Seramin, winner of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, did not play in the Valley Am. Jason Anthony, who was second in the points race, finished in a tie for fifth. Anthony had to finish at least within the top three to win the crown.
“The points title is a bonus,” said Clayton, who took control of the Valley Am with a course record tying 10-under 62 on Wednesday. “It’s a validation of all the work I put in.”
Anthony, who shot 73 to finish at 142, had nothing but praise for the up and coming 20-year-old Clayton.
“I’m happy for him,” Anthony said. “He earned it. He’s going to be a fantastic player.”
Clayton really did have to toil for the win, too. Despite his 62, which gave him a five stroke lead over Zachary Solomon coming into the finale, he fell two strokes behind Hoffman after carding a triple-bogey on the 12th, the result of a plugged lie in the greenside bunker.
At the time, Hoffman, who shot a 68 to finish at 137, was coming off a birdie on the 11th that got him to a total of 8-under.
On the 13th, Hoffman made bogey while Clayton saved par after sinking a slippery 5-footer. A hole later, the momentum all came back to Clayton. On the 306-yard 14th, Hoffman made par, while Clayton drove the green and sank his putt for eagle. On both the 15th and 16th, Clayton penciled in two more birdies, putting him back in control for good.
“After the triple bogey on 12 I was like, ‘What, I’m behind?’ The eagle got me back together,” Clayton said.
In shooting his first round 62, which is one of the low NCGA championship rounds ever, if not the lowest, Clayton was actually paired with players competing in the Senior portion of the championship.
“I got off to a hot start,” Clayton said. “I just told myself to keep hitting greens and the putts just kept falling.”
His 62 quickly became legendary. Rumors circulated that he’d driven it through the green on the 393-yard par-4 10th. It never happened.
“That’s a cool story, but that’s not what happened at all,” Clayton said with a laugh.
Solomon, playing out of Ancil Hoffman GC, placed third at 139 after carding a 72. Finishing tied for fourth with Anthony at 142 was Michael Tolladay, who shot a 72.
Defending champion Nick Moore of Seaside came in tied for seventh, shooting 144.
Once one of the top amateurs in the U.S., Joey Ferrari’s life took a detour when he was sent to prison for possession of drugs.
He’s since turned the page, and is on his way back.
Playing is his first tournament since being released from a Federal Correction Institution in Lompoc–where he spent nearly 16 years–Ferrari started what he hopes to be a new chapter in his life, carding a 1-under 71 to come from behind and win the NCGA Senior Valley Amateur Championship at par-72 Reserve at Spanos Park.
The Stockton resident finished the 36-hole event with a score of 3-under 141, edging Tim Grunsky by a stroke.
“It’s wonderful to be back,” said Ferrari, who was released from prison last October. “I messed up and can’t take it back. It was a learning experience and changed my life. It took me going to jail to wise up.”
Having quit playing in 1997, right when the trouble really started, Ferrari had to a buy a new set of clubs after his release.
“Basically everything I had was gone,” Ferrari said.
At the Reserve, his new set came though. Now working as a car wash operator in Stockton, Ferrari made his big push with three straight birdies on holes No.14 through No.16. On the 14th, he sank a 20-footer, following that up with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 15th.
Having started the day three behind Grunsky, things didn’t go so well for Ferrari early on. On No.3, he mishit a tap-in for par, leading to a bogey.
“That was my wake up call,” said Ferrari, who lost in the finals of the 1993 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. “I told myself I had to get back to playing tournament golf.”That he did.
Grunsky, who had opened with a 67, slipped back with a 75. On his front-nine, he’d shoot 2-over 38 with three bogeys and just one birdie. On the back-nine, he’d temporarily tie Ferrari at 4-under after making a birdie. While Ferrari bogeyed the 17th, Grunsky made double-bogey after hitting his drive into the water. The two both made par on the 18th.
Placing third at 143 was recent NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play champ Dan Bieber, who had a final round 73. David Ujihara, playing out of Atascadero GC, finished fourth at 144 after a 72.