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NCGA Four-Ball: Clutch Finish Wins it for Yamaguchi, Jura
Michael Jura (L) and Jeffrey Yamaguchi (NCGA photo)
Michael Jura (L) and Jeffrey Yamaguchi (NCGA photo)

PEBBLE BEACH, CA (May 13, 2018) - Jeffrey Yamaguchi and Michael Jura were clutch when it mattered the most.

The CSU-Stanislaus teammates played their last four holes at 2-under en route to a final round 3-under 69 to win the annual NCGA Four-Ball Championship by a shot over the runner-up team of Randy Haag and Jason Anthony on a breezy Sunday at par-72 Spyglass Hill.

While they’ve both won NCGA junior events, it was the first time Yamaguchi and Jura have won an NCGA championship. The two Fresno residents finished with a 54-hole total of 11-under 205.

“It’s awesome to win it,” said Yamaguchi, a senior at CSU-Stanislaus. “You can’t beat it.”

It certainly didn’t come easy. At one point trailing the team of Danny Paniccia and Mike Stieler, and also needing to stare down the charging tandem of Randy Haag and Jason Anthony, it was a crucial stretch from holes No.15 through No.18 that made the difference.

On the par-3 15th, Jura, a 19-year-old freshman, drained a huge 20-foot birdie putt that–had it not hit the back of the cup–could’ve easily led to a bogey. A hole later on the 16th, which was playing as a brute, Jura chipped in from 20 feet for a critical par save.

Then it was Yamaguchi’s turn. On No.17, the 22-year-old senior knocked a 58 degree wedge to wthin feet five feet of the flagstick for a birdie. The two finished with a routine par on the 18th to seal the victory.

“The hardest part was not knowing where anybody else stood,” Yamaguchi said. “You figure you just need to make as many birdies as possible.”

Matthew Naumec
The top three (NCGA photo)
For Haag and Anthony, it was deja vu all over again. A final round 68 left the reigning NCGA Senior Player of the Year and Player of the Year, respectively, in second place.

It was the third time (2015, 2017) in four years that Haag and Anthony have been left at the altar.

“We’re just snakebit here,” quipped Haag. “We did it to ourselves though too.”

Haag and Anthony played the front-nine at even-par each of the three rounds. They’d also three-putt four times in Saturday’s second round.

On the flipside, Yamaguchi and Jura’s big push came in the second round when they put up a 67. The score included a Jura birdie on the 13th that came after Yamaguchi hit out of bounds. It also featured two eagles by Yamaguchi on the par-5 7th and 11th holes.

“Those eagles were huge,” Jura said. “When you go 4-under through two holes, you can’t beat that.”

Third place went to the tandem of Garrett Wagner and Rick Reinsberg (2070 following a card-off with Kevin Huff and Austin Fox. Paniccia and Stieler were fifth at 208 after a 71.

ROUND TWO RECAP

Last year, it was Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo teammates Cole Nygren and Grady Smith who paired up to take the title. This time around, it could be CSU-Stanislaus teammates Jeffrey Yamaguchi and Michael Jura who get to celebrate.

Yamaguchi and Jura climbed into the lead at the annual NCGA Four-Ball Championship on Saturday, posting a second round 5-under 67 to give them a two-day total of 8-under 136.

The two will have to stay on their games, however, as there’s a who’s -who list of NCGA greats right on their tail.

With first round leaders Christopher Brown and Andrew Sherman slipping to a 75, the door opened for Yamaguchi and Jura. A senior, Yamaguchi did his part with a pair of eagles on the par-5 7th and 11th holes. Jura, a freshman, had birdies on the 1st and 4th holes.

Just a stroke behind the leaders at 137 following a 67is the formidable tandem of Mike Stieler and Danny Paniccia. Longtime friends and defending NCGA Mid-Amateur Four-Ball champs, Stieler and Paniccia are the last team to go back-to-back in the Four-Ball, having accomplished the feat in 2013-2014.

In at 138, just two back of the leaders, is another solid group of contenders: Kevin Huff and Austin Fox, Randy Haag and Jason Anthony and Garrett Wagner and Rick Reinsberg.

Both Haag and Anthony and Fox and Huff put up their second straight 69. Wagner and Reinsberg posted a 67. Reinsberg won the title in 2005 playing with current St. Mary’s men’s head coach Scott Hardy.

Haag and Anthony, the defending NCGA Senior Player of the Year and Player of the Year, respectively, won the NCGA Mid-Am Four-Ball crown in 2016.

Other teams that are lurking include Nick Moore and Matt Cohn (140) and Steve Woods and Jeff Gilchrist (141).

Sunday’s final round will begin at 7:30 a.m.

ROUND ONE RECAP

Andrew Sherman and Christopher Brown got off to a hot start, but there’s still two more days left.

Sherman and Brown, who are playing out of Hunter Ranch GC near Paso Robles, grabbed a two-shot lead in this year’s annual NCGA Four-Ball Championship by posting a solid 8-under 64 Friday at par-72 Spyglass Hill.

The duo wasted no time in making a move, as Sherman would open with an eagle on the scenic par-5 1st hole that helped lead to a front-nine 31. After making the turn, it was Brown’s turn, as he’d post an eagle on the par-5 11th. The only mistakes the two made all day were a pair of bogeys on the 9th and 18th holes.

In at 66, just two behind the leaders, is the tandem of A.J. Hohn and Reid Scarff. Playing out of Elkhorn GC and Catta Verdera CC, respectively, Hohn and Scarff caught fire on the back-nine, carding a sizzling 6-under 30 with six birdies.

Also making an early move was the tandem of Lake Merced GC members Jon Torp and Ryan Atkinson, who carded a 67.

In at 68, and still within easy striking distance, are the teams of Matt Cohn and Nick Moore and Ryan Sloane and Ben Peters and Vernon McCalla and Jeffrey Rangel. Peters is looking to make it two NCGA wins in a row, having come off a victory at the recent Public Links Championship. Last year, Sloane and Peters finished T-3 behind eventual champs Cole Nygren and Grady Smith.

The second round will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday. Following the second round, a cut will be made with the low 40 teams (and ties) advancing to Sunday’s finale.

ABOUT THE NCGA Four-Ball

The NCGA Four-Ball Championship began in 1967 at Spyglass Hill golf course and has been played the Robert Trent Jones layout ever since. The 54-hole competition consists of two-man teams in which both players play their own ball and the lowest score of the two is counted on each hole.

18 holes qualifying four-ball stroke play. The championship proper will be 54 holes of four-ball stroke play, 18 holes per day. After 36 holes, the field is cut to 40 teams and ties. Both partners must meet eligibility requirements, holding a handicap index of 5.4 or less.

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