PEBBLE BEACH, CA (August 17, 2006) -- Defending champion Eddie Olson advanced by virtue of a 7 and 5 thrashing of Will Johnson and will meet medalist Ryan Thornberry in the finals of the 103rd NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill.
Olson's road to the finals this year has been a little less dominant. The rising sophomore at UNLV defeated two-time State Amateur champion Casey Boyns 1-up in the round of 16 and needed some late heroics to outlast quarterfinalist Zack Miller. Miller held the lead most of the match until Olson birdied Nos. 15 and 18 to advance.
"It was a great match against Zack," exclaimed Olson,who shot 32 on the back nine. "I hung in there and kept grinding away. Par wasnot good enough, I knew I had to make birdies."
It was a two-putt birdie on No. 1 that set the tone for Olson's semifinal match against Johnson. The Aptos resident hit a 3-wood from 255 yards to 15 feet to take a lead he would never surrender. Johnson, the San Francisco City champion, entered the semifinals playing as good of golf as anyone in the field; his road included back-to-back 5 and 4 victories. An Olson three-under-par 33 on the front nine coupled with birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 ended Johnson's run.
Olson will face a "friend" in Thornberry in the finals; the two played together at the PCGA championship at The Olympic Club in early August. The River Oaks member had been in the driver's seat in all four matches at Spyglass, defeating NCGA Player ofthe Year Bob Niger, 4 and 2 in the quarterfinals before dispatching Matt Montez 5 and 3 to earn a coveted spot in the finals.
Similar to last year, Olson will board a plane after the finals to compete in the U.S. Amateur championship. An older Olson looks to become the first back-to-back NCGA Amateur champion since Randy Haag in 1992-93."I am more mature and composed this year. I learned a lot from my first year incollege and feel really good out on the course."
For complete match tree results, click on the tournament link above.
The scheduled 36-hole finale is set for Friday and live scoring will start at 7 a.m. at www.ncga.org