NorCal Valley Am: Chung, Knoll win it

MEADOW VISTA, Calif. (Sept. 9, 2008)--Steven Chung maintained his one-stroke lead at the Northern California Valley Amateur to take home the title at the Winchester Country Club one year after he fell in a six-hole playoff in the same event.

The 22-year-old Sacramento resident fired rounds of 69-77 to finish at two-over-par 146 for the biggest win of his amateur career.

“I like the course and it fits my game,” said Chung.

It was touch-and-go for a while when Chung found the water off the tee on the par-3 15th and made a double-bogey. But the Morgan Creek member kept his focus, knowing that he was competing for the title when a course marshall told him on the 17th tee that he had a one-stroke lead.

“I knew I had a one-stroke lead coming down 18 and all I had to do was two-putt the final green,” he said.

Chung credits his solid play to working on his game with swing coach Keith Lyford and from experience in playing the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst where he qualified for match play with 140 over two days of stroke play.

Ben Geyer of Arbuckle GC made a late charge for the championship with a final-round of 3-under-par 69. He finished as the runner-up with a 147. NCGA Amateur Match Play Champion Matt Marshall posted a final-round 77 to tie for third with Matthew Hollinsead taking fourth at 4-over-par 148.

In his rookie year of NCGA senior competition, Jim Knoll is making a charge at the coveted Player of the Year honor.

The 55-year-old captured the NCGA Senior Valley Amateur with an impressive 7-under-par 65 that sent jaws dropping as players came in from their round and saw the scoreboard.

The round included seven birdies and no bogeys and followed up a first-round 77 to nab the tournament by a single stroke over top-ranked Jeff Burda.

Although the scorecard suggested a blemish-free round, the golf shots were not entirely textbook. On the par-5 4th hole, he tried to lay up with a 4-iron, but the shot found the water hazard instead. Knoll still managed to save par on the hole with a 15-foot putt.

“I putted good for a change,” said the Sunnyvale resident after the round. “I’ve been struggling with my putter all year.”

Overnight leader Bob Fleming of Haggin Oaks posted a 77 to tie for third with John Enright of the Olympic Club at five-over-par 149.

Knoll, a Rooster Run GC member is currently third on the NCGA Senior Rankings and has been quietly edging his way up the list as the 2008 season has progressed, aided by a win at the San Francisco City Senior Championship.

“I’m playing more golf this year," said Knoll, noting that the friendly competition of senior golf has sparked his game. "It’s fun to be able to compete again and have some success now that I’m not playing against the kids anymore."

The win represents the first time that Knoll has defeated Burda head-to-head all year. The pair teamed together to win the Roddy Ranch Four-Ball earlier in the season, then Knoll finished runner-up to Burda at the Manteca City Senior.

The printing salesman cites his biggest career achievement as making the cut for the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straights in 2007. The Spartan alumni will look to continue his success at the upcoming California State Senior at Poppy Hills and U.S. Senior Amateur in Shady Oaks, Texas.

--NCGA story

Results For Northern California Valley Amateur & Senior Amateur Championship
1CASteven ChungSacramento, CA25069-77--146
2CABen GeyerArbuckle, CA17078-69--147
T3CAMatt HollinseadRoseville, CA10075-73--148
T3CAMatt MarshallSaratoga, CA10071-77--148
T5CAScott RoakRoseville, CA10076-73--149

View full results for Northern California Valley Amateur & Senior Amateur Championship

ABOUT THE NCGA Valley Amateur

Played for the first time in 2004 as a replacement for the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley championships, the NCGA Valley Amateur has become a staple in the tournament season. The 36-hole stroke play event is played at a venue in the San Joaquin or Sacramento valley each year and provides a top-level championship opportunity. Open to players with a handicap index of 5.4 or less, and seniors with a 7.4 handicap index or less.

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