California State Am: Greiner scorches Rd. 2

click above for a video featuring match play action and player interviews
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (June 21, 2007)-- Joe Greiner had never played match play until yesterday’s first round of the 96th California Amateur Championship, but after two days, he likes what he sees. The 20-year-old Saugus resident birdied seven of his first eight holes today over the Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course, shot 28 on the front nine and went on to hammer Gregor Main of Danville, 7 & 6, to lead eight golfers into tomorrow’s quarterfinal matches.

Meanwhile, former two-time California Amateur champion Casey Boyns of Pacific Grove continued his march to history, birdieing the 18th hole to turn back 18-year-old Ben Murray of La Quinta, 1 up. The 51-year-old Boyns is bidding to become just the third golfer in the history of the nearly century-old event to win three or more title (he won in 1989 and 1993).

*** Round recaps follow ***

Yesterday, the 20-year-old Greiner, who was a member of College of the Canyons’ 2006 California State Community College Championship team, made nine birdies yesterday as he ousted Korey Storer of Hillsborough, 2 & 1. Counting a final birdie today on the 12th hole, he’s made 17 birdies in two rounds. Greiner is doing it with his irons and his putter; today, he had to make just one long putt, a 25-footer on No. 8.

“I’ve never witnessed anything like it in all my years of watching match play,” said SCGA Director Steve Titus, who officiated today’s match.

“I’ve been making a lot of putts and they’ve nearly all been for birdies,” said Greiner. “Putting is my strong suit; some days you make them and some days you don’t. The greens here are really smooth and I’ve gotten the speed and the lines down for the last two days.”

The round could have been even better. After birdieing the first three holes, Greiner burned the edge with a birdie putt on the fourth hole, then came right back to birdie four more consecutive holes.

“After I got 4-up,” said Greiner, “I was just concentrating on making pars but everything was working. I think he was a little shocked.”

Main shot even par for the round, good enough to win on some days.


“I really felt like it was slipping away from me,” admitted Boyns after the match. “And I had to find a way to make birdie on No. 18.”

Yesterday, he hit 3-wood off the tee and bunkered his approach shot. Today, he hit driver (“I know I can work it side to side with the best of them,” he explained), hit a 104-yard gap-wedge shot to with three feet of the hole and made the putt.

Despite his previous success, Boyns wasn’t sure he even wanted to enter this year’s event. After all, Boyns — a professional caddie at Pebble Beach Golf Links — had a significant home-court advantage when the matches were played at Pebble Beach.

“I didn’t even make the cut the last two years,” said Boyns. “But I said to myself, ‘Monterey Peninsula CC? I’ve got to give it a shot.’”

However, Boyns won’t allow himself to think about the historical implications of another victory (he would be the oldest winner and would join Jack Neville and J.J. McHugh as the only golfers to win three or more California Amateur titles).

“You can’t think that far ahead,” said Boyns. “Golf is a very humbling game and it will bite you back if you get cocky. Taking it one step at a time sounds like a cliché, but if you don’t do that, golf will get you.”

When McClure, a 46-year-old real estate investor, took on the 38-year-old Kinsel, it was a match between two golfers who belong to Los Angeles Country Club.

“It was hard playing a fellow club member,” said McClure. “But that’s the luck of the draw in match play.”

McClure was 2-under-par for 14 holes.

“I played pretty well all day,” said McClure. “I hit all the fairways and most of the greens. Keith hit a lot of good shots but couldn’t make a putt all day.”

One example was the 12th hole where Kinsel had a short birdie putt to win the hole but three-putted to lose instead.

The 32-year-old Slackman birdied the 16th and 17th holes (the latter with a 35-foot putt) and won the 18th with a par to send his match against the 16-year-old Estrada to extra holes. On the par-5 first hole, Slackman won the match by sinking a five-foot birdie putt.

“I played really well today,” said Slackman, who played golf at the University of Washington and is a commercial developer in the Coachella Valley. “I just didn’t make any putts until the end. Justin didn’t make many mistakes today and I just had to keep hanging in there.”

Slackman may have a little extra karma because belongs to Indian Wells Golf Resort. In 2002, 32-year-old Eddie Heinen, also a member at Indian Wells Golf Resort, came out of nowhere to win the California Amateur.

In another youth vs. experience match, the 18-year-old Anderson had to call on all his skill to rally and overtake the 51-year-old Simoni, who was 1-up after eight holes. Anderson took charge by birdieing the 13th and 14th holes to go 2 up. After Simoni won the 15th hole with a par 4, Anderson made birdie 4 on the 16th hole to regain control.

“I didn’t play my best golf today,” said Anderson. “I gave away a couple of holes, but so did he. He’s a tough competitor and it was a good match.”

This is Anderson’s first time playing in the California Amateur and just his second match-play tournament.

“I like match play a lot,” he said with a chuckle, “because you can make a double and only lose the hole. I usually make a lot of birdies, so this is a good format for me.”

The 18-year-old Kim, who will enter Stanford this August, never trailed in his match against the 42-year-old Almquist, a veteran of this event.

“I struck the ball pretty well today,” said Kim later, “but my putting wasn’t very good. I missed a two-foot putt for birdie that could have put me 4-up with five holes to go. Overall, I just tried to hit the ball close to put pressure on my competitor, and it seemed to work.”

Kim tied for second at CIF-SCGA High School Boys’ Championship last month at The SCGA Golf Course in Murrieta. “This a different level of competition,” admitted Kim.

The 19-year-old Olson, the 2004 CGA-CIF California State High School boys champion and a redshirt sophomore at UNLV, won the final four holes, two of them with birdies, to turn back the 22-year-old Slover.

A 17-year-old high school senior from Placerville, Honeycutt never trailed as he ended the 44-year-old Wilson’s long-held dream of winning the state amateur. Honeycutt, who is playing in his first California Amateur, seized control of the match by winning the seventh and eighth holes with pars to go 3 up. He then birdied Nos. 10-12 to move to 4 up, even though Wilson hung tough with birdies on Nos. 10 and 12. “From then on,” said Honeycutt, “I just tried to keep the pressure on. I’ve been putting really well the last three days. I’m trying not to put myself in bad spots and making the putts.”

--Story courtesy Robert D. Thomas, SCGA

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