MONTEREY, Calif. (December 6, 2009) -- The Cal Bears golf team may be on winter break, but that hasn't stopped them from staying serious about their golf games.
At the Christmas Classic in Monterey this weekend, the sea of blue and gold Cal bags "parallel parked" outside the clubhouse on Saturday was a good omen for the team's weekend play, and certainly for Cal freshman Brandon Hagy of Westlake Village.
Still getting his feat wet and looking for a regular spot on the roster in his first Fall season, Hagy qualified for one tournament, following a summer in which he almost won a major California amateur championship, the State Fair in Sacramento on Labor Day weekend. (He eagled the last hole but lost in a playoff.)
Hagy relishes the opportunities in front of him and sees his game improving fast as part of the currently 29th ranked Division I Cal team.
"The competition within the team really helped me play well this weekend," said Hagy after holing a 40-foot putt on the 18th for a two stroke victory. "I didn't know where I stood on the last hole, but I definitely knew other Cal players were going to be playing well."
During the tournament's first round at the delightful Pacific Grove Golf Links, Hagy started on the back nine, -- a fun links layout right next to the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean -- and made four straight birdies on holes 12-15 to get to 5-under. One bogey coming in on the front resulted in a 66 that put him one behind teammate Max Homa. But most of the Cal Bears, including brothers Brian and John Murphy from Connecticut (69) and other top amateurs like Randy Haag of Burlingame (69), were in position to make a move on Sunday at Del Monte.
Unfortunately, tournament founder Casey Boyns could not play this year to shoot for another victory in the event he founded 25 years ago, but he did come out two days to visit players and help with the awards presentation.
As some cold weather and light rain moved over Del Monte in the mid afternoon on Sunday, players came down the stretch with some really solid rounds on "Old" Del Monte, where assistant pro Eric Lippert recently set the course record of 61. When Cal Junior John Murphy posted a 5-under 67 for a tournament total of 6-under 136, at least one tournament director thought that the number would hold. Then Murphy's younger brother Brian, a Cal freshman, shot the exact same two round total, setting up a potential brotherly playoff.
A group behind with the round one leaders, Hagy was facing one of the toughest putts of the day, a 40 footer with five feet of break to a back-left hole location on a tiny sliver of green about 12 feet wide.
"If I didn't have the perfect speed and missed the hole on either side, I could have easily putted it off the green," said Hagy. "I played about five feet of break and it tracked in just right."
The putt, and round of 68 (8-under total) was no fluke. In fact, Hagy started his day by hitting a fairway wood to a foot on the par-5 first hole for a tap-in eagle. Not a bad way to start the day. After that, it was fairways, greens, and solid putting.
As for getting in that first spring Cal Bears match? "I'll still have to qualify."
In the Senior Division, Charles Richesin of Lodi posted a 2-under 68 at Pacific Grove Golf Links on Sunday to overcome a 4-stroke deficit and edge Neil Duffy of Santa Cruz by a single shot. It was a fine tournament by both players -- their scores of 1-under and even par from the same tees as the Championship Division showed that "these seniors are good". One stroke behind Duffy was Herb Jensen of Carmichael at 143.
Dan Gray of Patterson posted a consistent pair of 69's to win the Net Division by 3-strokes over Todd Knapp of Salinas. Fred Luper of Hidden Valley Lake took third, while Charles Balisha, one of the first golfers to play for Glen Albaugh's UOP team, (Mark Miller of Antioch was also on that team) took fourth.
Unique ways to make birdie, part 1:
At No. 16 on Pacific Grove on Saturday, Troy Laughlin hit a shot we'll just call a "quick right" from 100 yards, into the hazard on the right of the green. He found the ball in some Kikuyu, opened up the wedge, and flopped it over the bunker and in for an unlikely birdie.
Unique ways to make birdie, part 2:
Bet you didn't think of playing No. 15 at Del Monte the way John Murphy did. "I love that hole - it sets up perfect for a drive up the 16th fairway, and a pitch shot to the front left pin," said Murphy. "I remembered the pin placement from last year and took advantage of it."
The NCGA Foundation's Youth on Course program, and the Ocean Honda hole-in-one contest:
Special thanks to Adam Heieck and Chad Daymont for helping us with the closest-to-pin competitions each day at Del Monte, and to all players who donated $10 to enter. Combined with the $1800 donated by amateurgolf.com, we raised a total of $2900 over the weekend for Youth on Course! We also appreciate the support of Steve John and his company Ocean Hondas of Santa Cruz. Visit his new showroom - we didn't give away a car this weekend but Steve is known as the car dealer of competitive golfers and I encourage you to pay him a visit if you are in the market for a car.
Dr. Glen Albaugh, and "Winning the Battle Within"
Many of you met Dr. Albaugh, who works with Tour players Roger Tambellini, Charlie Wi, Kirk Triplett, and Scott McCarron. His book, "Winning the Battle Within" is practical and tour-tested. You should definitely give it a read and refer back to it often. There is also a corresponding workbook, and Glen is available for private consultation as well as group clinics. If you would like to order a copy, or learn more, visit: www.wbwgolf.com.
To the golf staffs, food and beverage operations, maintenance crew, and everyone that works for two of our favorite courses, Del Monte and Pacific Grove Golf Links, a note of thanks for hosting us. In addition, my personal thanks to the entire staff of amateurgolf.com for making this complicated, multi-course event with 180 players go off without a hitch.
A quick request -- We're working hard to build our Facebook presence and fan base -- in addition to posting stories and making it easy for you to know when something interesting is on our site, we'll do giveaways, insider promos, and more. Within the next few weeks, you'll be able to easily link your Facebook and amateurgolf.com profiles.
We use Facebook for tournament photos too, so it's a fun way to share your on-course accomplishments (and hopefully some of your best swings) with your friends and family. To join amateurgolf.com's Facebook fan page, just go to www.facebook.com/amateurgolf or search for us using the search box in FB.
Thanks to everyone who has already become a fan of amateurgolf.com. We would love to hear your ideas on using social media to extend our reach and grow interest in the Tournament Series.
Friday Skins at Pacific Grove:
34 players teed in up on Friday and we had 75 birdies and 3 eagles. There were 6 skins that paid $124 each:
Wayne Bass -- No. 2, Par-3, Birdie
Michael Donnelly -- No. 4, Par-4, Eagle
Pete Wlodkowski -- No. 4, Par-5, Eagle
Scott Mraule -- No. 12, Par-5, Eagle (his first time playing a Bridgestone ball!)
Candus Herrera -- No. 15, Par-4, Birdie
Chris Mangold -- No. 16, Par-4, Birdie