PEBBLE BEACH, CA (June 24, 2005) -- Youth vs. age, North vs. South, experience vs. prodigious talent -- these and other subplots will be part of the story when 46-year-old Don DuBois of Newport Beach meets 17-year-old Joseph Bramlett in the 36-hole final match of the 94th California Amateur Championship at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links.
DuBois, medalist in the 2002 California Amateur but who has never advanced farther than the quarterfinals in three decades of play here, defeated his good friend, 45-year-old John Pate of Santa Barbara, 1 up, in this morning's quarterfinals, then outlasted 21-year-old Eric Riehle of Hemet in a match that went 20 holes.
Bramlett, who will be a senior this fall at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, defeated UCLA junior Chris Heintz of Brea, 3 & 2, then thrashed 33-year-old Rick Reinsberg of Lafayette, 6 & 5, including a hole-in-one on the fifth hole, to become the youngest player to reach the finals since Mike Brannan won the first of his two titles in 1973.
DuBois' two victories were a study in contrast. In the quarterfinal match (played in a sizzling 3 hours and 24 minutes), DuBois made seven birdies en route to a 5 under par 67 for 18 holes, while Pate, who was runner-up in the 1995 California Amateur, was 3 under for the match.
However, DuBois struggled in the afternoon against the ultra-long hitting Riehle, who recently graduated from UC Riverside. "I never really felt comfortable in the afternoon until the back nine," said DuBois later. In fact, he was 3 over par with no under-par scores until he made birdie 3 at the 401-yard 16th and then squared the match with a birdie 2 at the picturesque 17th hole.
However, it was two pars earlier in the match that DuBois would point to as turning points. The first was at the 201-yard 12th where DuBois drained a 15-foot par putt to stay just 2 down to Riehle. "He had been hitting the ball really well," DuBois said later, "and if I had gone 3 down I would have been in real trouble. But when I made that putt I thought I might be able to put some pressure on him."
After both players made par 4 at No. 15, the 572-yard 14th became the second turning point.
DuBois hit his third-shot approach long and it bounced down into a collection area, 25 feet from the hole. Riehle bombed his drive 340 yards and became one of the only players in the tournament to attempt to reach the green in 2, a shot which ended in rough right of the green. His chip shot reached the top shelf of the steep, two-level green, hung there for a couple of seconds, then rolled back down to the fringe in front of the green. Riehle's second chip ended 10 feet from the hole and he missed the par putt.
Meanwhile DuBois chipped to within a foot of the hole and when he sank the putt, "I knew the game was on, even though I was still 1 down."
After both players parred the 15th hole and after Riehle had hit his approach on No. 16 to within eight feet, DuBois hit an eight-iron approach from the right rough to with two feet of the hole. Both players sank their birdie putts and moved on to the 17th hole (site of Tom Watson's chip-in to win the 1982 U.S. Open). DuBois rifled a four-iron tee shot to eight feet from the flagstick and Riehle responded with a five-iron that left him 12 feet from the hole. After Riehle missed his birdie putt, DuBois curled in his eight-footer to send the match to the 18th hole all square. .
Joseph Bramlett will attempt to become the youngest winner of the California Amateur Championship in more than 30 years when he meets Don DuBois in tomorrow's championship match.
Both players parred the 18th and returned to the 17th hole for a playoff where they both missed makeable putts and settled for pars. Then on the 18th hole, Riehle three-putted from 35 feet, missing a four-foot par putt that send DuBois into the championship match.
DuBois' morning match against Pate was equally memorable, in part because they've known each other for a long time (DuBois lived in Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, before moving to Newport Beach two years ago). "It was fun playing a friend," said DuBois later. "We both played great and we had a great time."
After DuBois birdied his first two holes and three of his first four, Pate responded with consecutive birdies on holes 5, 6 and 7 to take a 2-up lead. DuBois responded by lasering his approach over the ocean on the 416-yard, par-4 eighth hole to within four feet, then sinking the birdie putt to cut the margin in half.
DuBois birdied the par-four 11th and par-three 12th holes to take a 2-up lead and after both players hiccupped the par-five 14th (each making bogey), Pate drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-four 15th hole to cut the margin to 1-down.
DuBois responded again, hitting a nine-iron approach to within three feet on the par-four 16th and making birdie to regain his 2-up advantage.
Then on the par-three 17th hole, DuBois put his tee shot on the wrong side of the hour-glass green, chipped six feet past the hole and watched his putt rim out. Meanwhile, Pate's tee shot landed in rough to the left of the bunker, but he chipped it to within a foot of the flag for a conceded par.
Both players reached the 543-yard finishing hole in three shots (DuBois having to maneuver around the large tree guarding the green), and after DuBois' 15-foot put slid a fraction of an inch past the hole, Pate could not convert his sliding six-footer.
Bramlett played impressively in both of his matches to reach the finals, where he hopes to join Brannan as the second-youngest person ever to claim the title (Mac Hunter was 16 when he won in 1972).
In his morning match against Heintz, who lost a quarterfinal match for the second consecutive year, Bramlett made four birdies and just one bogey in 16 holes. After Heintz made a dramatic putt from an impossible angle for birdie 3 on the 13th hole to close to within 1 down, Bramlett answered with birdies on the par-five 14th and par-four 15th to go dormie 3 and then closed out the match with a par on the following hole.
In the afternoon, Bramlett steamrollered Reinsberg, the 2003 San Francisco City Amateur champion, making birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 to grab an early 2-up lead, then hitting an eight-iron tee shot on the 142-yard fifth hole that landed in front of the hole, skipped once a few inches past and then sucked back into the cup for his second career ace.
On the par-5 sixth hole, Bramlett lipped out an eagle put but won the second of four consecutive holes to take a 6-up lead over Reinsberg, who won only one hole all afternoon.
In other quarterfinal action, Riehle took out 2000 SCGA Amateur and 2004 Trans-Mississippi Amateur champion Scott McGihon, who would say later, "I ran into a buzz-saw today. He played great." Great, in this case, meant hitting every green and missing just one fairway, as Riehle opened with three consecutive birdies and then made pars on 13 of the next 14 holes. Riehle's only blip came on the par-four 11th hole, which he lost after violating Rule 16-1a for brushing away water on the green.
Reinsberg reached the semifinals by defeating University of Colorado senior Ed McGlasson of Orange, 3 & 2. Reinsberg, birdied two of his first three holes and then birdied three of four holes beginning with No. 9 to take a 4-up lead that proved to be insurmountable.
94th California Amateur Championship
at Pebble Beach Golf Links; Pebble Beach, CA
6,719 yards; par 72
Quarterfinal Match play results:
(numbers in parentheses are seedings)
Don DuBois (4), Newport Beach, d. John Pate (12), Santa Barbara, 1 up.
Eric Riehle (17), Hemet d. Scott McGihon (9), Bermuda Dunes, 2 & 1.
Rick Reinsberg, San Francisco, d. Edward McGlasson (2), Orange, 3 & 2.
Joseph Bramlett (17), Saratoga, d. Chris Heintz (11) Brea, 3 & 2.
DuBois d. Riehle, 20th hole.
Bramlett d. Reinsberg, 6 & 5.
The 36-hole championship match will be Saturday. All matches will take place at Pebble Beach Golf Links.