DALY CITY (June – Geoff Gonzalez of Diablo CC and defending champion Nick Delio of Valencia tied for medalist honors at the California State Amateur Championship stroke-play qualifying at Lake Merced GC.
Gonzalez fired a blazing-hot 64 in the morning Tuesday to establish the early lead. The eight-under-par round was just one stroke shy of equaling the course record of 63 set by Nationwide Tour player Roger Tambellini. The Cal Poly senior racked up three birdies and three eagles on the way to shooting the lowest round of the championship etching his name on the trophy at nine-under-par 135.
After struggling with the first hole in previous rounds, the 21-year-old commented that making birdie on the first hole of the day “was a huge boost of confidence” and inspired the rest of the round. Gonzalez made eagles on all the par 5s except for No. 14, where he missed the green and got up-and-down for birdie. The business studies major is competing in the State Amateur for the first time after taking medalist honors at the Cypress Ridge qualifier with a 69.
Reigning champion Nick Delio of Valencia came charging back in the second round to tie with Gonzalez with a six-under-par 66. The Valencia CC member teed off in the second wave and knew that nine-under was number to shoot for. “I knew it was doable,” said the Cal State Northridge junior. “I took advantage of the par 5s,” said the 19-year-old, who secured eight birdies during the round and was four-under on the par 5s.
Delio is no stranger to the State Amateur, having won last year’s championship by defeating Carmichael’s Austin Roberts in the final. He will be looking to make it two in a row. If Delio wins the title again this year it will be the first back-to-back victories since Dr. Frank Taylor in 1954-55.
After two consistent rounds of 68-69, Tim Hogarth of Brookside GC moved into third place at seven-under-par 137. The 43-year-old has a decorated resume including the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links title, six L.A. City Championships and a California State Amateur trophy in 1999.
Palo Alto’s Martin Trainer qualified in fourth place at five-under-par 139. The Gunn HS graduate posted a 71 after yesterday’s 68.
Sam Smith will be looking to add the championship to his NCGA Junior Championship win at Lake Merced in 2007; the Turlock resident finished tied for 12th at one-under-par 143 after a 67 in the first round.
The last medalist to win the championship was Steve Woods in 1994. The Cupertino resident squeaked into match play this year tied for 24th at one-over-par 145 after carding a 75 today.
The cut ended up at two-over-par 146, with a playoff ensuing for the final two spots between nine players. Kevin Lozares of Mountain View and nabbed the 31st match play seed with a birdie on the first extra hole and Logan Goettsch of Fresno succeeded with a par on the fourth playoff hole.
The elevated level of play from a stronger field of players was evident during this year’s stroke-play qualifying. In 2008 four-over-par was good enough to qualify for match play. This year 23 players finished at even par or better for two rounds.
In the Roger-Lapham Challenge Cup, in which selected players from the North compete against the South counting the best five of six individual scores, the SCGA won by a comfortable 30 strokes. The Southern California team of Josh Anderson, Jason Bittick, Tyler Crawford, Nick Delio, Joshua Dupont and Matt Hoffenberg recorded a team score of 18-under-par 702. Propelled by Delio’s 66 and two other under-par rounds today, the team secured the title back after the North won by one stroke last year. The Northern California team of Steven Chung, Randy Haag, Scott Hardy, Chris Marin, Taylor Travis and Jeff Wilson finished at 732.
15 players from the North and 17 players from the South comprise the 32-player field that advances to singles elimination match play to compete for the California State Amateur title. The round of 32 is scheduled for tomorrow, the round of 16 Thursday with the quarterfinals and semifinals set for Friday. The scheduled 36-hole final begins Saturday at 7:30 a.m.