NCGA Valley Am: Slover, Vanier win Titles
MADERA, Calif. (Aug 28, 2007) - Cody Slover of Visalia and defending champion Gary Vanier of Pleasant Hill captured respective NCGA Valley and Senior Valley championships Tuesday.
Slover was one of three first-round leaders of the tournament, though with 11 players grouped within four strokes of each other, the championship was up for grabs. After nine holes of the final 18, NCGA Master Division and Stroke Play champion Casey Boyns had a one-stroke lead. But Slover, Steven Chung of Teal Bend and Darryl Donovan of eClub Monterey Bay were able to grab a share of the lead at four-under-par 140 on the 7,251-yard course, as Boyns faded to fourth place. Donovan’s final round 69 propelled him from deep in the pack to a playoff for the championship.
Six extra holes ensued to decide the championship, with a Slover par on the 18th hole the second time around deciding the championship.
“I really didn’t want to lose two playoffs in a row,” the champion said. Last weekend Slover lost a playoff for the Santa Maria Amateur. The recent Cal State Bakersfield graduate finished third in this same event in 2006 and hopes to establish solid amateur golf credentials while he weighs his options for a future in professional golf. The 22-year-old won the Valley Oaks club championship and advanced to the second round of match play in the State Amateur earlier in 2007. “Now I’ve got to keep the momentum going,” Slover said.
Senior champion Gary Vanier has been nothing short of brilliant since becoming eligible for senior competition in 2006. The 56-year-old won all three senior events he entered in 2007 including the Alameda Commuters, the State Senior and Valley Senior. This follows his initial season as a senior (2006) in which he won the Valley Senior and advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Senior Amateur. In the eight major NCGA events that Vanier has been eligible for since turning 55, he has won three and finished second in two. The other three events? He didn’t play because he was playing in other tournaments, often against junior amateurs.
“I hit my irons great today, I never was in too much trouble,” Vanier said regarding his stellar final round. The Olympic Club member and 2006 NCGA Senior Player of the Year had a simple explanation for his two-year reign at the top of senior competition in Northern California : “I think my swing is good enough that I can think my way through most problems.”
The champion followed a first-round, two-under 70 that left him one off the lead, with a final-round 69 that produced a four-stroke victory. After a short playoff, first-round leader John Enright took second place over Doug Johnson of Fig Garden . Enright, also of the Olympic Club, had the best comment regarding Vanier ’s recent dominance: “Now I know how Mickelson feels playing with Tiger.”