MONTEREY, Calif. (Dec. 6, 2015) — Ben Doyle has been playing competitive golf since he was about 6 years old, and winning tournaments almost that long.
The UC-Berkeley golfer won his first AmateurGolf.com event today, putting his name on the trophy of a historic tournament founded by two-time California State Amateur champion Casey Boyns, who lives nearby.
Doyle teed off in the final group trailing leader Sean Crocker (USC) by a single shot. At the turn, the deficit had increased to two.
That's when the chill dude from La Jolla went from playing a game he calls "relaxing" into an intense state some might refer to as "the zone."
When asked if Sunday's down-the-stretch battle was still relaxing, Doyle thought about it for a moment before answering.
"Relaxing? Today, not so much. I mean, I still find the intensity of it relaxing, but in a different way. It clears my mind of everything else."
And how could you think of anything else when you have a back nine like this? After a solid even par front nine, the fireworks started for Doyle on the 10th hole, the short par-4 where he hit driver near the green and got up-and-down for the first of his back-to-back birdies. After parring the par-3 12th, he went into another run of four straight, ending at the 16th where Doyle holed his third shot from the right bunker.
After missing a short putt on the 17th for his fifth-straight birdie, Doyle had built up a big enough cushion that even with a bogey at the last, he would shoot 31 on the back nine for a 5-under 67 and tournament total of 136.
That's just two strokes away from the AmateurGolf.com era record of 10-under 134 shared by former Cal stars Brandon Hagy (2009) and Joel Stalter (2010).
Finigan Tilly of San Mateo fired 68 to finish runner-up at 139. Tilly, a senior in high school was one of two high school golfers to finish inside of the top 10 (H.S. Pioneer High School junior Thomas Hutchison finished solo 6th at 2-under 142).
Two Cal golfers tied with first round leader Sean Crocker of USC at 4-under 140. Sebastian Crampton and James Yoon both posted 68 to get into a tie for third with Crocker, while Crocker was even par in the final round.
The low round of the tournament, and one of the biggest comebacks, was posted by Keelan Kilpatrick of New Zealand (with girlfriend McKenna on the bag) who fired a 65 coming off a first round of 78. That's a big move!
Chuck Richesin of Lodi posted 74 on Sunday to take the Senior title at 149 over Jeff Briton of Carmel (151). It was Richesin's third Christmas Classic Senior win.
Playing in the final group and realizing that it was potentially a two horse race as first round leader Neil Duffy fell behind, Richesin birdied the 16th as Britton three-putted for bogey, and in the end that was the difference in their final scores.
Mitch Weisberger of Aromas posted two solid rounds of 76-77 to finish solo third, and definitely as the low man from Aromas!
The comeback of the day goes to Rich Rowley, who made a big move up the board with a final round 72. That was not only the best senior round of the tournament, it gave him from the bottom half of the field to fourth place.
Chris Ladd — winless in three long AmateurGolf.com seasons (but there were a few seconds, he said) posted 3-under 141 to win the Net title over Bart Goldie of Oakland.
Ladd, who resides in Petaluma, experienced the kind of camaraderie seldom seen in other sports, especially when coming down the stretch for a title. The more "experienced" Goldie — who has played with pros like Jean Van De Velde — helped Ladd relax on the back nine with the occasional words of wisdom.
But Ladd, who has a style all his own and "knows his own limitations" approached the 18th with an amazing game plan.
"I hit 7-iron, 7-iron to 10-feet" said Ladd, much to the tournament director's amazement.
Goldie finished second (five shots back at 146) and Steve Poletti took third at 148.
Special thanks to Jeremy Gomberg of AmateurGolf.com — a big success on his first event — and to the entire staff at Del Monte for hosting us so well.