Following a self-described disappointing year where he went winless, Seaside resident Nick Moore has been eagerly waiting for the 2015 season to really kick in.
“I didn’t feel like I was playing to my potential last year, and taking time off doesn’t help,” Moore said. “I’m really focused this year.”
On Monday at par-72 Spyglass Hill, a re-energized Moore showed that he’s back, shooting a 1-under 71 to win the 50th NCGA Public Links Championship by two strokes over co-runner-ups Scott Hardy and Wes Sandroni.
Moore, who finished the two-day event with a total score of 1-under 142 after carding a first round even-par 71 at Poppy Hills Golf Course, is the first player to win the championship with a score under par since Kyle Prolo, who took the title at Spyglass Hill in 2008 with a score of 140.
“This feels really nice,” said Moore, a 32-year-old caddie at Cypress Point Club who plays out of Bayonet/Black Horse Golf Course. “I missed that feeling of being the winner.”
Now a two-time champion of the NCGA Public Links Championship (he also won in 2013), Moore had to come from three strokes behind first round leader Daniel Griffiths of Redwood City. He also had to fend off Sandroni and Hardy, a three-time winner of the championship.
“Golf is up and down. You have to battle through the hard times to be able to get back on top,” Moore said.
The final round couldn’t have started much worse, as Moore bogeyed the opening 1st hole. He’d quickly rebound, however, carding one of his four birdies on the day on No.2.
“I knew there was still a lot of golf left after that opening bogey and I felt confident. I had my mind set on playing well,” Moore said.
It was on the back-nine that Moore sealed the victory. He’d card a bogey-free, 2-under 33, picking up birdies on the par-5 14th and par-4 17th. After reaching the 14th green in two with a 5-wood, he’d barely miss a putt for eagle. On the 17th, he knocked his approach to within six inches of the flagstick.
All the while, he had no idea what anyone in the final foursome behind him was doing.
“I had seen that no one had won with an under par score since 2008. So I knew that if I could get under par, I’d have a really good chance at winning,” Moore said.
For Moore, it’s his second win in a little over two weeks. He also won the recent AmateurGolf.com California Medal Play Championship.
Helping along in both victories was his caddie and girlfriend, Victoria Dibert.
“We’re starting to work well together on the golf course,” Moore said.
Sandroni, winner of last year’s Davis City Championship, was in the hunt at a total of 1-over until a critical double-bogey on the par-3 12th.
Hardy, who would have joined Casey Boyns as the only four-time winners of the event with a victory, got to 3-under through the front-nine but also doubled the 12th after his tee shot found the water hazard. The St. Mary’s men’s golf coach, who is still waiting to see if the Gaels are in the NCAA Regionals, also bogeyed the 16th.
“I played good the first nine and then just lost it a little,” Hardy said.
Trevor Clayton, the 2014 NCGA Player of the Year, had a 74 to finish alone in fourth at 145.Both Dominic DeBellis and Griffiths, who were the only two players to shoot in the 60’s at Poppy Hills, fell backwards. DeBellis, a former caddie on the Web.com Tour, followed up an opening 69 with a 78 to drop back to fifth place.Griffiths, winner of the 2013 San Mateo County Stroke Play Championship, went from 68 to 82 (T-8).
“At Poppy I made every 4 to 5 foot putt I looked at,” DeBellis said. “Today I just putted tentatively. It was still fun being in the last group.”