VALENCIA, Calif. — Expect the unexpected should be the slogan for all match play competitions, and it certainly rang true Monday at Valencia CC for the first day of the 8th Southern California Match Play Championships. Seeds 1, 2 and 3 all fell victim to their opponents in the opening round of the event, with great golf being played off the clubs of some surprisingly players.
Falling first was SCGA Veteran Tim Hogarth, who pushed things to the 18th hole before being defeated by Justin De Los Santos. After Hogarth, a five-time winner of the SCGA Mid-Amateur Championship, took a 1up lead after a birdie on the first hole, De Los Santos would tie things back up on hole No. 2 and never trail again, going up by as many as 2 before collecting a par on the 18th hole to close out the match. De Los Santos advances to play Carter Pool of San Diego in the Round of 16 Tuesday morning.
But perhaps the most surprising upset of the day came from high schooler Dan Erickson of Whittier, who defeated Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Sean Crocker 2 and 1. Erickson, who had never played in a match play competition before, dominated with his short game, hitting four or five chip shots to within feet of the hole.
"My short game, both my chipping and putting, really did it for me today," said Erickson. "Chipping isn't usually my strength, but I've been working on it a lot so it's nice to see results. Sean is such a great player; moving on definitely gives me confidence going into the rest of the week."
USC's Crocker had found himself with a 1up lead through hole 11, before Erickson tied things up on No. 12. The youngster would then birdie holes 15 and 16 to take a lead he would never relinquish, including an impressive up and down on the par 3 16th hole. He now advances to play former SCGA Mid-Amateur Champion Robert Funk in the Round of 16. Funk advanced with a 4 and 3 victory over Daniel Ragsdale of Oak Park.
Also of note was a 2up victory by SCGA Amateur Champion Nathan Celusta, and a dominant 5 and 4 win by mid-am Corby Segal.