VALENCIA, CA (June 22, 2016) -- Temperatures finally dipped below triple digits, much to the liking of the 32 players still competing in the 105th California Amateur Championship Wednesday. After a lengthy playoff to determine the match play field, Round of 32 action consumed Valencia CC, with some of the area's top collegiate players shining as they advanced to Thursday's Round of 16.
In a matchup which many thought could have been a finals, Hidetoshi Yoshihara, who is headed to UCLA in the fall, and Franklin Huang of Stanford battled through 18 holes before Yoshihara finally emerged as victor. Yoshihara, who is coming off a win at the CIF State Championship earlier this month which granted him an exemption into the California Amateur, fell behind early, finding himself 2 down after two holes.
"I didn't play as well as I would have wanted early on, but I just reminded myself to stay calm," said Yoshihara.
He battled back quickly, winning the next two holes to tie things up before taking a lead through six holes. Yoshihara would extend his advantage to as many as three through 13 holes, before Huang battled back down the stretch. On the brink of victory, 3up through 14 holes, Yoshihara would stumble, losing holes 15 and 17 with a par and a bogey. What had earlier looked like a match that wouldn't have to see the 18th hole, Yoshihara would right the ship, collecting a birdie to end the match.
"It means so, so much to me to reach the Round of 16," said Yoshihara. "This tournament has such great players, it's an honor to be here."
Though the Round of 16 is very college-heavy, two mid-ams did fight their way through Wednesday's action, led by 1999 Champ Tim Hogarth, who easily defeated Chris Steilen of Oceanside 7 and 6. Former SCGA Public Links Champion Sean Birren didn't have it as easy, but did manage to pull off a 19-hole victory against Ben Corfee of UC Davis.
The match of the day though may have been between USC's Andrew Levitt, who co-medaled during the tournament's 36-hole stroke play portion, and Roman Aragon of Saint Mary's. Heading into the 18th hole 1 down, Levitt drained a 20-foot par putt to put pressure on Aragon, who stood over an 8-footer for par, and the win. Aragon would miss, but would quickly find redemption with a winning birdie on the 19th hole of play.
Earlier in the day, 12 men returned to the course bright and early to finish a playoff that was called due to darkness Tuesday night. With five spots still on the line, three groups teed off at 7 a.m. on Hole No. 10, the event's second playoff hole. The final 32-man final match play bracket wouldn't be decided until the fifth playoff hole, with some players spending two hours out on the course before making the cut and beginning their Round of 32 action.
The Round of 16 will begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning, followed by both the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday. Saturday's final match will be 36 holes.