Bryan Baumgarten (Sac Bee)
VALENCIA, CA (June 21, 2016) -- With the sun rapidly setting on what is the longest day of the year, the excitement during Tuesday's second round of the 105th California Amateur Championship peaked at the conclusion of the day, as 15 competitors found themselves in a playoff, battling it out for the final eight spots in the tournament's match play bracket. Fighting against the impending darkness, three groups of five players headed back to the 18th tee after already completing 36 holes of stroke play over two, extremely hot, days.
But the large playoff group would get no further than the 18th green of Valencia CC, as darkness prevented play from going any further. Not much was settled, though, as Brandon Lee had the lone birdie, making him the only player to secure his match play spot from the playoff group. With a double bogey, Jeremy Sanchez of San Carlos was eliminated. Darren Saqui was also removed from contention as a no show.
The remaining 12 men will return Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. to determine the final seven match play spots.
Avoiding the drama, however, were co-medalists Andrew Levitt of USC and Bryan Baumgarten of Illinois, who finished the 36-hole stroke play competition at 2-under par 140. The two men earn a spot for their names on the medalist trophy, which includes legends such as Duffy Waldorf, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler and Ken Venturi. Baumgarten will enter match play as the No. 1 seed, and Levitt as the No. 2.
Among those to advance to Wednesday's Round of 32 is Craig Davis of Chula Vista, who first qualified for a California Amateur Championship in 1977 as a 15 year old. He then earned his first match play spot in 1982, when he was paired in the final round of stroke play with medalist and SCGA Hall of Famer Corey Pavin. Davis this year shot rounds of 70-75 to finish T14 in the stroke play portion of the event.
All 155 competitors not only battled the tough Valencia track Tuesday, but continued to compete in triple-digit temperatures, although nothing as bad as the 111 degrees the tournament saw on Monday. The low rounds Tuesday came off the clubs of Baumgarten and Brandon Tsujimoto, who each shot 2-under par 69. Tsujimoto also secured a spot in Wednesday's action.
Notables to advance to match play included 1999 Champ Tim Hogarth, Shintaro Ban, brother of last year's champion Shotaro, and Franklin Huang of Stanford.
The battle for the Roger Latham Cup, a two-day competition between the NCGA and SCGA, was won by the North team, which reclaimed the cup for the first time since 2013.
The Round of 32 will begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the aforementioned playoffs kicking off at 7 a.m.
ROUND ONE QUALIFYING STORY
The opening round of the 105th California Amateur Championship came to a conclusion on Monday evening, as players and tournament organizers alike retreated to the nearest air-conditioning.
With temperatures soaring above triple digits for most of the day, players found themselves not only battling a tough Valencia CC setup but also the sweltering heat.
Many players echoed a similar sentiment regarding the Southern California air.
“This is by far the hottest weather I’ve ever played in,” said Scott Mitchell (Santa Rosa, Calif.). “I’ve played in some heat down South, but this was just cruel. I’m surprised the course held up so well.”
Despite brutal conditions that tested both the physical and mental, the scoreboard was filled with red-hot figures to go alongside the sauna-like weather.
Tied at the top of the leaderboard are two youngsters that seem unfazed by the heat. Peter Kuest (Fresno, Calif.) and Ben Corfee (El Macero, Calif.) both fired opening round 4-under 67s to share the first slot.
Kuest, who will be playing his college golf at BYU this fall, came out and took full advantage of the par-5s. The future Cougar played the three par 5s in 4-under, including two birdies and an eagle on the 529-yard No. 15.
Corfee, a junior at UC Davis, rolled in an impressive five birdies en route to sharing the overnight lead. After coasting to a 1-under front-nine 34, the Aggie stepped on the gas pedal and carded four of his five birdies on the back to lock in his 67.
Behind the leaders is a trio at 3-under. Roman Aragon (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Sebastian Crampton (Pacific Grove, Calif.) and Andrew Levitt (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) all carded opening round 68s and look to improve their standing tomorrow.
Of note, Shintaro Ban (San Jose, Calif.) shot a 2-under 69 and is the brother of Shotaro, last year’s California Amateur Champion.
Despite the dangerous heat, one player braved the blistering temps not only once, but twice today. SCGA mainstay Tim Hogarth was first to tee off in the U.S. Senior Open Sectional Qualifying at Annandale GC this morning before making the trek to Valencia this afternoon for his first round.
“This was a good struggle”, said Hogarth (pictured), who shot an even par 71, good enough for T17. “It was a testament to the working out and everything that I do. If I wasn’t ready physically, I think it would have been pretty miserable out here.”
Outside of individual competition, there’s also the battle for The Roger Latham Cup, a North/South matchup with bragging rights awarded to the lowest combined team score.
At the end of Day One, the NCGA is ahead of the SCGA by a score of 358-370, led by Seb Crampton with a 2-under 69. Franklin Huang carried the South with a 1-under 70.
Both Monday and Tuesday’s action consists of stroke play qualifying, with the low 32 players then advancing to match play. The Championship’s 36-hole final match will be played Saturday, June 18.
Tee times begin Tuesday at 7:15 a.m.