COTO DE CAZA, CA (August 24, 2016) -- For a number of reasons, this was one championship Tim Hogarth really wanted to win.
For starters, although boasting the most decorated SCGA resume of any tournament player alive, Hogarth had yet to win an SCGA Match Play title, despite competing in the event every year since its inception in 2008.
And on a more personal note, competing here in Orange County for a title this week meant a lot to Hogarth and his family.
"About a month ago I asked my uncle if he would caddy for me in this tournament," said Hogarth. "He was able to read the greens here a lot better than me."
But a week and a half ago during the SCGA Public Links Championship, Hogarth received a phone call that his uncle had passed away, causing him to withdraw mid-event to attend to the heartbreaking family matter.
"I think he was here with me today," said an emotional Hogarth.
For the five-time SCGA Mid-Amateur Champ, the ninth time proved to be the charm, as Hogarth defeated a number of formidable opponents, including defending champion Dan Erickson in the final round, to capture the 9th SCGA Match Play Championship on Coto de Caza G&RC's North Course. He becomes the first mid-am ever to win the title.
Entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed, due to his placement on the SCGA Match Play Points List, which takes into account both SCGA and non-SCGA golf performances from the past year, Hogarth looked like the No. 1 seed in the first round, defeating Lewis Simon of San Diego 5 and 4 on Monday. From there, though, things would get more challenging, as Hogarth faced a tough Round of 16 matchup against Nick Geyer, the asst. coach of the USD men's golf team, who came to the event fresh off his first SCGA title, having claimed the aforementioned SCGA Public Links Championship at Brookside GC earlier this month. Despite never pulling away with the match, Hogarth also never trailed, beating Geyer 2 and 1 Tuesday morning to advance to the quarterfinals later that afternoon, where he would defeat 2014 California Amateur Championship Medalist Satch Hermann 1 up.
On Wednesday competitors faced another tough 36 hole day, something that does give the 49-year-old Hogarth an advantage, who, despite his age, has more endurance than most other competitors. Despite given the option to ride a cart, Hogarth chose to walk (the only competitor to do so), and ended up hoofing it for his 3 and 2 semifinal win over Tyler Gulliksen and his 1 up victory over Erickson.
"I decided to make a change today," said Hogarth. "I think it's clear that I play better when I walk. And with these match play tournament I get on the wrong side of momentum sometimes, and when I'm in a cart it snowballs really quickly. I felt like by walking I could take the air out of the ball a little bit and slow things down.
The plan worked, as Hogarth managed to right the ship after every lost hole in the final match, never losing consecutive holes. After falling down 1 early on a nice second-hole birdie by Erickson, Hogarth managed to tie things back up after Hole 4. He would then take his first lead of the match with a birdie on No. 9.
"I was fortunate to hit some great iron shots that really kept me in there, giving me the opportunity to have some short putts." said Hogarth.
But Erickson had no quit in him, and tied things up on No. 10 with a birdie, his second of the day. The two continued to exchange leads, with Hogarth picking up a 1 up advantage on No. 13, when controversy struck.
On the par-4, 467-yard 14th hole, Hogarth recorded a bogey with a tap-in putt. Erickson, meanwhile, was standing over a 4-foot par putt, looking to win the hole and tie up the match with four holes to play. Struggling with his putter most of the day, Erickson missed another one, sliding the ball 8 inches past the hole. Upset with himself, Erickson immediately knocked the ball away with his putter. Never having conceded the hole, Hogarth called over a Rules Official, who reminded Erickson that without acknowledgement that the putt was good, he would have to give a 1-stroke penalty. Replacing the ball and knocking in the putt, Erickson would have to settle for a bogey and a 2 down disadvantage. He would bounce back to win the next hole, but not get any closer.
"It's not something you want to have to do, but he hit the ball away so quickly I didn't have a chance to say it was good," said Hogarth. "A few times during the round I barely snuck an 'it's good' in there before he knocked the ball away. It's not a situation you want to have happen."
For Hogarth, the SCGA Match Play title is an addition to a resume that already includes an SCGA Amateur Championship, five SCGA Mid-Am titles, two SCGA Foursomes Championships and an SCGA TOCC win.