It ain’t officially over, but in this case it is.Although there were still three events left in the season, each held this past weekend, Fresno resident Trevor Clayton and Sunnyvale’s Jim Knoll are the 2014 Northern California Golf Association Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year, respectively.
Clayton, who’s attending Fresno City College this year with plans to transfer to Fresno State next fall, earned his title by winning the recent NCGA Valley Amateur Championship thanks to an all-time NCGA low round of 12-under 62 at Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.
The win boosted the big red-head, who formerly played at CSU-Stanislaus, not only to a total of 1,317 points, but a 58 point lead over Jason Anthony entering the final weekend. For good measure, Clayton would win one of the three final events—the LasPo Open—to finish the season with 1,417 points (the final official points will be calculated when all three events have reported their results).
While Clayton played in the LasPo Open, Anthony’s next scheduled event was the USGA Men’s State Team Championship, which begins Tuesday and is not a points event.
UC Davis senior Matthew Seramin, who had taken the lead in the points race at 1,082 following his dramatic win at the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, didn’t play in the NCGA Valley Amateur due to school obligations. Even if Seramin won any of the three events this past weekend, he wouldn’t have enough points to catch Clayton.
“The points title is a bonus,” said Clayton following his four-stroke win at the NCGA Valley Amateur. “It’s a validation of all the work I put in.”
Despite his toils on the range, Clayton’s record-setting performance at the Reserve at Spanos Park was his lone victory of the summer.At the California State Amateur, he’d reach the Round of 16 before getting knocked out. Other June-August results were Round of 32 at the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship and sixth place at the Santa Cruz City.
While not wins, his finishes in those three events combined racked up 468 points.
Toss in getting through a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur in July (75 points) and opening the year by taking first in April’s Roseville City Championship (100 points) and Clayton is your 2014 NCGA Player of the Year.
“I’m happy for him,” said Anthony, who could’ve snagged the honor by finishing at least third at the NCGA Valley Am (he’d finish T-4). “He earned it. He’s going to be a fantastic player.”
For the 62-year-old Knoll, it was business as usual.Coming off a 2013 campaign that saw him chalk up a senior record 3,003 points—as well an unprecedented third straight Senior Player of the Year crown—Knoll again was as elusive as the road runner.
Knoll didn’t play in the season ending NCGA Senior Valley Amateur (he was busy competing at the U.S. Senior Amateur), and it didn’t matter. Entering the event, Knoll had already amassed 2,808 points. The next closes player was four-time NCGA Player of the Year Casey Boyns at 1,595.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to play in a high volume of events and play just well enough in some of the majors to finish on top,” Knoll said. “This was my seventh year of playing senior golf and I’ve been privileged to play in an era where the quality of play in our section has been exceptional. NCGA senior golf is second to none.”
A print salesman, Knoll rolled over the competition. He’d open the season in November by winning the California Senior Amateur, and in the spring followed that up with a win in the NCGA Senior Amateur Championship, his second title in four years (2011).Like the calendar, he was only warming up. In July, Knoll won both the Sacramento City Championship and the Merced County Championship, each 200 point events. He’d start August by reaching the Round of 16 at the NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, following that up with a win at the California State Fair. Overall, he won eight of the 18 events he entered—a 44% win percentage.Even at that rate, Knoll remains humble.
“I have always maintained that the Player of the Year is not always our best player. It seems like every year an argument can be made that a couple of us deserve that distinction. It is truly an honor to just be considered one of our better players.”