Fresno City: Paniccia Beats Doverspike in Playoff
31 May 2010
see also: Riverside Golf Course
FRESNO, CA (May 31, 2010)--Danny Paniccia battled from three strokes down to force a sudden-death playoff with Grant Doverspike on Monday at the 83rd annual Fresno City Amateur.
Coming close wasn't good enough for the 1996 City Am champion, however. On the first extra hole, Paniccia stayed aggressive.
"That flag is tucked so far left there's not much green over there," he said. "I told my dad [his caddy], 'I'm taking it right up the flag and whatever happens, happens.' And I pulled it off."
Paniccia stuck his second shot on the par 4 about 11 feet from the cup at Riverside Golf Course. Moments later, he sank a birdie putt for the victory.
"It feels great," he said. "It probably feels better than the first time."
Paniccia became the first multiple-time champion since Doug Johnson won his fourth title in 1998. Paniccia, 33, birdied five of his final seven holes.
Doverspike and Paniccia, both former Fresno State standouts, were tied through regulation at 10 under, shooting identical rounds of 68-69-69 on the par-72 course.
Brian Sunker was third at 72-69-68--209.
Paniccia trailed Doverspike by three strokes at the turn and said he knew he had plenty of work in front of him because of Doverspike's talent. But he also knew that if he kept it close, he could make a move.
There are three par 5s in the final five holes. He birdied all three.
Paniccia began stealing the momentum on 13, when still trailing by three.
Doverspike, a senior who just completed a college career that included the 2009 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year award, pulled his drive on the 13th, and his second shot was off as well, heading toward the tee box on eight. Doverspike had a near miss on his par putt and settled for a bogey.
Meanwhile, Paniccia -- a freshman at Fresno State when he won the tournament for the first time -- knocked the ball solid. He hit what he thought was his best iron shot of the day from the fairway to within about 5 feet, and birdied 13 and 14 to knot it at 8 under.
Doverspike answered with a birdie on 15 to regain the lead and put the pressure back on Paniccia. But the former pro did not recoil, forcing a tie at 10 under with a birdie on 18.
"On 18, I just blew it," Doverspike said. "I had a good drive, good spot and just didn't hit it solid enough. I hit it on the green, but I had to putt through the rough fringe. I just kind of had to chip to try to get it to trickle down."
Doverspike just missed a birdie putt from about 10 feet that would have won it, and Paniccia followed with a 2-footer.
Despite the close loss, Doverspike enjoyed the experience as he gets ready to try his mettle in the professional ranks. "It was fun," he said. "It's a good step to the next level."