PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2008)--Matt Marshall picked a fitting way to end his last summer of competition as an amateur.
By winning the NCGA Amateur Match Play at Spyglass Hill over Chris Marin of Monterey, the Saratoga resident won an elusive title and gave himself some needed momentum as he prepares for PGA Tour Qualifying School this fall after graduating from UC Davis.
The story of the match between Marshall and the 30-year-old Marin came down to putting. The champion put on a display of clutch putting that simply made it impossible for Marin to make up ground after ending the first 18 holes of the scheduled 36-hole final 2-down.
The 3rd through the 5th holes of the second 18 told the story of the entire day. Marshall saved par on the 3rd with an 8-footer and then canned a triple breaking 35 footer on the 4th for birdie. The 5th saw Marshall again save par with a 7-footer that maintained the 3-up lead that would prove the final margin in the match.
“I’ve been working hard this summer getting ready for Q-School,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve really put some time in on inside-10-feet putts. That really bailed me out today.”
Conversely, it was the runner-up’s inconsistency with those same putts that prevented him from mounting a charge. ”That was the death of me,” Marin said. “I scrambled well today but couldn’t make the clutch putts. I’ve got a lot of work to do to get better at those; Matt looked really comfortable over the ball.”
Marin clearly has the game to succeed. Earlier this year he captured both the Monterey Bay Championship and the amateurgolf.com California Mid Amateur and earned runner-up honors at the Alameda Commuters. He has alternate status for the upcoming US Mid-Amateur to be played in Wisconsin in early September.
Marshall’s game is predicated on control. His compact swing leaves little room for error. Yet when mistakes inevitably happen, his tremendous putting touch, aided by father-caddie Bob - a lifetime PGA member - erased those mistakes.
The champion’s lone miss inside 10 feet on the second 18 came on the 14th and allowed Marin to close the gap. “I was getting tired,” Marshall said. “That’s a lot of golf on a hard golf course.” After yet another save on 15 (versus a missed 7-footer for birdie from Marin), the champion was able to close out the match on the par-4 16th.
The Santa Clara County champion has exhausted his eligibility at UC Davis following a transfer after completing two years at UCLA. After being so close to winning over the past three seasons of NCGA play – Marshall finished third in three consecutive NCGA Amateur Stroke Plays and played his way to the round of 16 in the past two State Amateurs – winning the NCGA’s grandest prize allowed the champion to close this chapter of his career in style. “It feels really good right now,” he said with a smile.
Rob Thompson successfully defended his NCGA Senior Match Play title at Spyglass Hill Friday.
The retired teacher pocketed a big win over accomplished player Jeff Burda of Del Rio. The nail-biting back and forth match went to the 18th hole and Thompson hung in long enough to nab the championship after being down in the match most of the way.
Thompson, with his rugged swing, managed to scrap up and downs all over the course on the speedy Spyglass greens, while the longer-hitting Burda struggled in an unusually unpolished fashion.
On a golf course that was playing extremely difficult in the thick fog, Thompson felt the conditions played to his advantage, “the weather was an equalizer” he commented after the round. Burda got some bad breaks on a few holes, including three fried-egg lies in bunkers, which Thompson capitalized on. “He missed a few and I just kept plodding along,” said the back-to-back champion.
While both competitors played solid golf on the front nine, Burda had a 1-up lead heading into the back side.
“I hit a lot of good putts and just played steady,” said the 2005 Senior Player of the Year. It wasn’t until the 14th hole that the Merced GCC member grabbed a lead in the match for the first time all day when Burda’s approach shot spun back into the water and he bogeyed the hole.
The momentum swung back in Burda’s favor when Thompson missed the green right on no. 16 and failed to make par, evening the match.
Then the tides changed once again when Thompson crafted a creative par from the cart path right of the 17th fairway. Burda posted a bogey from the front of the green with a missed 4-foot putt, which meant the defending NCGA Senior Four-Ball Champion was 1-up heading to 18.
It was a close contest all the way to the final putt on the 18th green, where Burda lipped-out a slippery 3-foot putt to decide the match.
Thompson admitted, “I think he’s a better player,” but in match play anything can happen. The last time the pair played together was at the Merced County Championship where Thompson lost to Burda by a single stroke when he discovered he had an extra club in his bag on the 2nd hole and incurred a four-stroke penalty. He had his playing partner from the day before to thank for putting his club in Thompson’s bag by mistake.
The NCGA veteran added this championship to an impressive resume that includes a NCGA Senior Strokeplay title, CGA Senior Amateur title and runner-up honors at the State Fair Senior Championship. Next on his agenda is the State Fair Senior Championship at Sacramento and then the CGA Senior Amateur at Poppy Hills in September.