by Scott Seward, NCGA
PEBBLE BEACH - Rick Reinsberg played a game of “Catch Me if You Can” in winning the 6th annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills wire to wire.
The champion essentially won the tournament with a stellar, opening-round 67 and letting the rest of the field chase him for the final two rounds. After carding five birdies and an eagle in that opening round, he held onto the lead throughout with rounds of 72 and 70 to win by five shots over Salinas Fairways’ Ricky Stockton. “I had a breakthrough practicing at lunch last week so I was really confident coming in,” the Lafayette resident said.
The 37-year-old entered the Stroke Play looking to settle a score from a year ago when he was nipped in a playoff by champion Matt Hollisead. “I played steady golf last year but I hit two bad drives on 18 – one in regulation and one in the playoff. So I was looking for redemption,” the Moraga member said.
Those two bad drives essentially cost him the championship, a result that was definitely on Reinsberg’s mind on Sunday. Entering the final round, the champion held a three-shot lead. After a one-over front nine, he essentially closed the door on the event with birdies on nos. 10 and 11, and then punctuated the championship with a 20-foot birdie on 18 to set a new tournament scoring record at -7, 209. The record he broke? Four-ball partner Scott Hardy’s 211 back in 2003. “That’s an added bonus,” Reinsberg said. “He won’t be too happy, but since he is my partner, I think I can get away with it.”
Reinsberg has won two other NCGA major titles – the 2003 Sacramento Valley (now the Valley Amateur) and the 2005 Four-Ball (with Hardy) – the duo placed tied for fifth in the 2009 Four-Ball.
Third-place was grabbed by Kevin Alexander of Napa GC, whose second-round 77 dropped him from contention and Derek Ernst of Belmont, who had the low score of the third round, a 4-under 68.
With his third NCGA championship, Reinsberg cements his standing as one of the region’s finest mid-amateurs, a distinction he doesn’t get a chance to further develop very often due to other commitments. “I unfortunately don’t have time to take off for match play events,” he said. “I love the State Amateur and the NCGA Amateur. But stroke play events are fun. Every shot counts.”