Leader Jason Anthony (NCGA photo)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Jason Anthony fell back, but he’s still the guy to catch.
Anthony, who hails from Fairfield, continued to hold the lead at this weekend’s annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, posting a second round 73 on a brilliant Saturday morning at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course. The 2014 NCGA Player of the Year runner-up, who has a two-day total of 2-under 140, will enter Sunday’s final round holding a one stroke lead over former CSU-Monterey Bay standout Robby Salomon.
A day after posting a sensational, bogey-free 67, Anthony finally got bit by Poppy Hills. The Green Valley Country Club began where he left off, carding a bogey-free 36 on the tougher Poppy Hills front-nine that included a lip-out birdie try on the par-5 9th.
On the back-nine, however, he’d card his first bogey of the championship on the par-3 11th. Anthony later got back to even-par for the day with a birdie on the 14th, but he’d close out his round with two more bogeys on the 16th and 17th.
Salomon, who was part of the afternoon wave, also had things going for a second straight day. The Preserve GC member, who began the day only three off the lead, followed Anthony with a bogey-free front-nine 36. He’d get to a total of 2-under with a birdie on par-5 10th, but proceeded to card to back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th. A final birdie on the closing 18th got him back to 1-under for the championship.
Also in the immediate mix is Pleasanton’s Ryan Knop, who is just two back after his second straight 71. For Knop, who’s headed to UC Davis this fall, it was another roller coaster round, as the former Foothill High star penciled in five birdies but also three bogeys and a double-bogey on the 13th.
In the final round of last year’s Junior Tour of Northern California Tour Championship at Poppy Hills, Knop tossed up an eight-birdie, bogey-free 63. Through the first two rounds this weekend, he’s racked up 10 birdies. Anthony and Salomon, who’ve been able to avoid any double-bogeys, have 11 birdies combined.At 144, just four behind, are both Patrick Soli and Ryan Gronlund, who shot 75 and 72, respectively. Soli, a senior at UC Davis, went birdie-less with four bogeys. Gronlund, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University who played at Foothill High, shot his second straight 72.
Record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag, a member of the Olympic Club, followed up an opening 71 with a 77, falling into a tie for 13th. St. Mary’s men’s golf head coach Scott Hardy, who was right in the thick of things after an opening 71, dropped back with an 81. Defending champion Bobby Bucey, playing out of Oakhurst CC, is T-30 following another 76.
The cutline (low 40 and ties) came at 11-over 153. Among those missing the cut were 2014 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship winner Matthew Seramin (154) and Nick Moore (156), who won this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship.
Jonny Baxter and Youth on Course Salinas Valley member Sunny Yan are both five off the lead after rounds of 70 and 74, respectively.
Poppy Hills played 45 yards longer in the second round, going to 6,778 yards. The stroke average was 79.725, compared to 78.707 in Friday’s first round.The toughest hole on Saturday was the par-4 5th, which played to a 4.855 stroke average. Only four players birdied the hole.
Sunday’s final round will begin at 7:30 a.m., with the leaders going out at 10:04 a.m.