Marsh's Late Charge Wins the Stocker Cup
by Scott Seward, for amateurgolf.com

CARMEL, CA (October 25, 2009)--Sometimes championship golf comes down to how a golfer deals with adversity.

For Stocker Cup champion Kevin Marsh, his handling of his poor tee shot on the par-5 13th hole in the final round ignited the Henderson, NV resident on a four-birdies-in-six-holes binge. It paved the way to a 67 that proved a two-shot difference overall at the 7,067-yard Preserve GC in Carmel.

After 12 holes on the last day, the leaderboard was all but inert, with third-round leader Greg Kennedy of Duluth, GA commanding a four- stroke lead and appearing to be on cruise control toward the title. But after Marsh, playing in the third-to-last group, drove into a hazard on the 13th, punched out, placed his approach on the green and then drained a 40- foot birdie putt with 15 feet of break, the game was on.

Kennedy would go two-over the rest of the way, while Marsh, the 2005 U.S. Mid-Am champion, suddenly caught fire. The 36-year- old would birdie the treacherous uphill 15th, and then punctuate the win with birdies on the two concluding holes. “Putting is usually my strength,” Marsh said. “But the key today was that I hit my irons well. I had not been doing that earlier in the week.”

The sudden reversal in fortune left tournament officials with a sense of déjà vu, harkening back to 2008 when Chris Marin of Monterey seemed to have the tournament well in hand only to watch Joe Sanders charge past him after Marin made a triple bogey on the 15th. Kennedy posted a one-over 73 on the day, but was philosophical about the finish: “You can only be aggressive in certain spots on this course; I just missed some putts coming in.” He had started the day with a two-shot lead.

Playing with Kennedy in the final group, Burlingame’s Randy Haag had his chances. The Olympic Club member had perhaps the best ball-striking tournament of the entire field, but was unable to jump-start his putter. Five lip- outs in the final round, including two in the final four holes, kept the 2009 Northern California Golf Association Player of the Year out of a playoff. “My putting the last two days definitely held me back,” the 50-year old said. Haag finished tied for second with Kennedy. Japan’s Nick Ushijima finished in fourth place, five strokes behind the champion, while two- time champion Craig Doell of Victoria, BC took fifth. After as many as eight players were at par or better for the event, only five would remain in red numbers at the conclusion.

The championship was Marsh’s first in the event in only his second time participating. The Pepperdine alum has previously captured the Southern California Amateur and Carlton Woods Invitational as well as competed in the 2006 Masters as a result of his U.S. Mid- Amateur victory. The 36-year-old played in the final group in 2006 with champion Bob Niger, but finished in a tie for 6th. “I’m really pleased to win and look forward to defending next year,” he said.


•This is the 10th anniversary for the Preserve GC to host the event. The spectacular Tom Fazio/Sandy Tatum design followed original hosts Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay and Poppy Hills on the nearby Monterey Peninsula.

•The title remains in Nevada for the second consecutive year after Joe Sanders of Incline Village won in 2008.

•Twenty players made the three-round cut, which came at nine-over-par 225.

The Stocker Cup, played in memory of Peter Stocker, is held each October at The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel. The field is comprised of 52 world-class mid-amateur invitees who meet stringent eligibility requirements and pay a minimal fee for their participation.

The Stocker Cup is a Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Rankings points event. In addition to the A players who are invited based on their playing accomplishments, the Stocker Cup also holds a one-day qualifying tournament for players not receiving invitations. On September 29, over thirty competitors with a handicap index of 3.4 or lower vied for the final four A- list spots at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, CA. Tanner Makimoto of Roseville, CA posted a 1-under 71 to take home medalist honors and qualify for his second national tournament of the year (he played in the USGA Amateur at Southern Hills in August).

Those final A-list golfers are complimented by a matching number of qualified B-list competitors, with invitations extended to friends, relatives and associates of the late Peter Stocker, as well as to various sponsors and other supporters of the event. Every A- player is teamed with a B-player in a handicapped best-ball competition held simultaneously with the individual stroke- championship.
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