PEBBLE BEACH, CA (June 14, 2016) -- After tying for fourth at this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship and earning a spot in the recent U.S. Open Sectional at Lake Merced Golf Club and the Olympic Club, Sacramento resident Zachary Solomon had a feeling he was on to something.
The 27-year-old Whitney Oaks Golf Club employee was absolutely right.
On Tuesday, Solomon shot a final round 2-under 69 at a windy and cold par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course to come from five strokes back and win the 35th annual NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship. It marked the first NCGA title for Solomon after competing in tournaments for over four years.
“My game is still a little shaky but I could feel the tide turning,” said Solomon, who finished with a two-day total of even-par 143.. “I knew I had the game to win one of these. I wanted to scratch an NCGA championship off my list.”
A sign that it would be Solomon’s day came on only the 4th hole. He’d knock his drive out of bounds but ended up holing out from 105 yards out for par.
But it was on the back-nine where he really came through in the clutch. Following what would be a front-nine 37, he’d post a 32 that included four birdies and a bogey. On the par-4 16th, he’d hit his 9-iron approach shot from 145 yards out to within 10 feet of the pin for birdie. On the par-3 17th, he two-putted from 30 feet for what would be a crucial par.
“I didn’t really catch my tee shot right on the 17th. It just got over the bunker on the right front. It was a big break,” said Solomon, who opened the championship with a 2-over 74 at Black Horse GC in Seaside.
While the par was a big help, even bigger a closing birdie on Poppy Hills’ par-5 18th. Solomon would end up edging recent NCGA Senior Championship winner Casey Boyns by one stroke.
Playing in the final group, Boyns came to the 18th tee just two behind Solomon. The California Golf Hall of Famer reached the green in two, but saw his eagle putt to tie Solomon come up just inches short of the cup leaving him with a 72.
“I just couldn’t pull the trigger on it,” said Boyns of his putt. “I didn’t want it to go long either.”
Boyns would find himself snake bit in both rounds. On Monday at Black Horse, he closed his round with three bogeys within his last four holes. At Poppy Hills, the longtime Pebble Beach caddie carded three bogeys within his final six holes.
Also getting stymied was first round leader and former professional Brett Viboch. Coming off a first round leading 69 at Black Horse GC, Viboch had to settle for a 76 to place third at 145.
“I didn’t feel great at the range when I was warming up. I was just fighting my swing a bit,” said Viboch, who won this year’s NCGA Four-Ball Championship with partner Bobby Bucey.
All the players felt the brunt of Mother Nature. Breezy winds made a tough Poppy Hills course a brute.
“The par-3’s coming in, the 15th and 17th, were really hard to judge with the wind,” Boyns said. “You just wanted to make par and get the heck out of there.”
Viboch felt the sting of the wind when his drive sailed into the trees on the par-4 13th. It would lead to a game-changing quadruple-bogey 8. “At that point, the course was just brutal,” Viboch said.