PEBBLE BEACH, CA (August 19, 2016) -- It took a while for record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag to finally fully join the senior ranks.
The 57-year-old isn’t just getting more used to it, he’s quickly becoming a force.
On Friday, Haag claimed his third big senior title of the year, defeating Orinda CC member Jim Williams, 4 and 3, in the 18-hole final of the 10th annual NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill. Haag also won this year’s NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship and the San Francisco City Senior.
“It’s a great win. We all have to get comfortable to our graduation to the older levels,” Haag said. “Some guys can’t wait, and some guys go begrudgingly. I’m getting used to the forward tees. This is the first time I didn’t have applications for both the NCGA Match Play and Senior Match Play in front of me.”
With the win, Haag joined Casey Boyns as the only players to have won both the NCGA Amateur Match Play and Senior Match Play crowns. Overall, the victory was Haag’s 16th career title, second only to Boyns.
“Getting wins in both events is special. I’m only getting started,” Haag said.
With a par on the first hole, the 60-year-old Williams took a 1-up lead through the first three holes. After that though, it was all Haag. Three straight pars and a birdie from holes No. 4 through No. 7 gave Haag a 3-up lead. With another birdie later on the par-5 14th, Haag went 4-up.
Following an opening bogey, the No. 2 seeded Haag went 1-under over the rest of the 14 holes. Williams, meanwhile, never really could get his putter to cooperate.
“I know Jim, he’s a tough competitor,” Haag said. “He’s got great shot-making capability. In match play, you always expect the other guy to make the putt.”
At this year’s San Francisco City, Haag beat Williams, the No. 12 seed, in the semifinals. The two also tangled at this year’s NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship, where Haag and partner Chip Lutz prevailed over Williams and his brother, Doug, on the fifth hole of a sudden-death playoff.
“Randy’s really good. That’s now three times he got me this year,” Williams said. “I just wasn’t as sharp as I was the previous days.”
SUPER SENIOR MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Monterey Peninsula Country Club member and Aptos resident Frank Pieper had already won an NCGA title when he and partner Mike Staskus captured the 2014 Senior Four-Ball crown.
Never before though had the 66-year-old Pieper won an individual NCGA title. Until now.
Pieper, the son of amateur legend Ernie Pieper, Jr, got the win in the inaugural Super Senior Match Play Championship, defeating Bob Thomason, 1-up.
“This is a big deal,” said the 66-year-old Pieper. “I’ve been playing in these things since around 1966.”
Holding a 1-up lead on the 18th tee, it looked like Pieper would maybe lose his opportunity when he pulled his approach shot right of the green into the bunker while Thomason hit his second shot within 12 feet of the pin. Pieper, however, made a great up-and-down to halve the hole and claim the victory.
“That was the highlight shot,” Pieper said. “I’d hit a good putt earlier on 17, but it didn’t go in.”
Thomason, the men’s basketball coach at University of Pacific for 25 years, fell behind by three holes and couldn’t make up difference, even though he birdied three holes on the back-nine.
“When I was down early, I just reminded myself to stay focused on what I had wanted to do, and not what I had done,” Thomason said. “Frank just played very consistent golf.”
View results for Northern California (NCGA) Senior Match Play Championship