SCGA-SCPGA Honors Matches: Amateurs win it

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MURRIETA, Calif. (Nov. 16, 2007)-- In a competition that came down to the final hole, a 10-man team from the Southern California Golf Association edged a contingent from Southern California Section of the PGA, 8.5 to 6.5, to win the inaugural playing of The Honors Matches at The SCGA Golf Course.

David Bartman of Los Angeles sank a four-foot birdie putt on the 445-yard 18th hole to secure the winning margin in the four-ball match competition. With one point awarded for the front nine, one for the back nine and one for the overall match, the SCGA took a 3.5-1.5 lead after the first nine holes and held on for the victory, winning the overall matches, 3-2, and losing the back nine matches by the same margin.

“The victory is fun,” said SCGA Immediate Past President Ed Holmes of Victoria Club, who captained the SCGA team. “But far more important was that these two premiere golf associations were able to get together and share some competition and camaraderie. Out of things like this grow closer relationships, which can only benefit both associations and the game of golf in Southern California.”

SCPGA Honorary President Bill Hulbert of Yorba Linda CC concurred.

“Hopefully they won’t blame the captain,” said Hulbert with a smile. “This was a great day and it was a privilege to be involved in the first Honors Matches as the captain. There were some terrific matches that went right down to the wire. There was an eagle, birdie finish in our last group, but unfortunately we came up a little shy of what we needed. There was great camaraderie, and I think the guys had a great time. I think we have started a nice tradition and its something we can build on for the future.”

At least two of the 10 members of each team had to be seniors and the SCGA team of reigning SCGA Senior Amateur champion Rich Tolly of El Niguel CC and Mesa Verde CC member Steve Rhorer won all three matches as the SCGA took an early 3-0 lead.

However, the SCPGA bounced back as former Champions Tour player Butch Sheehan of Indian Wells and Ryan Kennedy of Saticoy whitewashed 2007 SCGA Mid-Amateur champion Tim Hogarth of Northridge and 1999 SCGA Amateur titleholder John Pate of Santa Barbara, 3-0.

“Butch played unbelievably and carried me the whole way,” said Kennedy of his partner, who had eight birdies, including his last five holes. “I think he could have beaten them by himself. In fact, I think I could have joined the SCGA team and he could have beat us three-on-one.”

When three-time SCGA Amateur champion Scott McGihon of Bermuda Dunes and University of San Diego coach Tim Mickelson of San Diego halved all three of their matches with Dale Abraham of the PGA of Southern GC and Dave Podas of Bel-Air CC, the score was deadlocked heading into the final two matches.

McGihon (who made five birdies on the day) and Mickelson thought they had things in hand, only to have Abraham chip in from left of the green to square the back nine and overall match.

“I was just thinking about trying to make it,” said Abraham afterwards. “I picked my spot and I knew if I landed it there it would take care of itself. It was a really tough lie. It was downhill and buried in the rough. I knew I had to hit a perfect shot. It’s like I teach my students. It’s about the process. You execute the process and the outcome will take care of itself.”

David Bartman of Brentwood and Robert Funk of Canyon Lake, who teamed together to win the 2006 SCGA Four-Ball and 2007 SCGA Foursomes championships, never trailed in taking their front-nine match, 2-up, over Jim Gormley of Palos Verdes GC and Scott Miller of North Ranch CC. However, Gormley made birdie-4 on the 13th hole and birdie-3 on the short 15th hole as his team took a 2-up lead on the back nine and evened the overall match.

Undaunted, Bartman, the 2006 Trans-Mississippi Mid-Amateur champion, hit a 7-iron to 18 feet on the 206-yard 17th hole and rolled in the putt for a birdie-2. Then on the final hole, after pounding a 304-yard drive, he hit a 141-yard wedge shot to within four feet of the flagstick and sank the putt, squaring the back nine and winning the overall match.

“My partner told me the matches were tied when we came to the 18th hole,” said Bartman. “But I didn’t know whether to believe him; I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was using it as a motivational tool. But overall I played pretty well today; [our opponents] lipped out several putts or things might have been different.”

In a wild, up-and-down final match, with lots of birdies and “others,” California Amateur runner-up Joe Greiner of Valencia CC and three-time SCGA Amateur runner-up Brian Edick of Vista Valencia GC, won the front nine handily, 3 & 2, only to see Dave Hutchens and Scott Heyn of Black Gold GC rally Hutchens went 3-3 (eagle, birdie) on the final two holes to square the back nine. However, by then, the SCGA had wrapped things up.

The matches paid tribute to two Southern California golf notables: former U.S. Junior Amateur and two-time SCGA Senior Amateur champion Bud Bradley of Palm Desert and legendary golf instructor Eddie Merrins of Bel-Air CC.

--Story by Robert D. Thomas, SCGA, with contributions from Katie Denbo and Greg Flores

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