RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. (June 24, 2010) -- Scott Almquist is the quintessential family man – a business owner, a husband and the father of three teenage girls that sets up home base in Coto de Caza. Despite an already full schedule, however, he’s managed to carve a little time out to not only co-medal in the 99th California State Amateur Championship, but advance once more to the quarterfinals in the match-play portion at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
Almquist, 45, leads a group of experienced players who dominated youth and move on to the next round: Kevin Marsh, 37, of Henderson, Nev., Randy Haag, 51, of Burlingame, and Harry Rudolph III, 40, of La Jolla, the 1991 California State Amateur Champion.
Almquist, the No. 1 seed, defeated Spencer Fletcher of Los Altos, a 20-year-old Arizona State University golfer and No. 17 seed, with a margin of 4 and 3. It’s an upset for Fletcher, who beat Ladera Ranch’s Jason Bittick 5 and 4 in yesterday’s Round of 32.
"I came out of the games today thinking I had to shoot all pars, after seeing how Spencer played yesterday,” Almquist said. “I made a few key birdies out there, starting on hole 8. I like this course, you can’t fake it out here. You just have to play well.”
Almquist, a Tustin native, actually had baseball and pre-med dreams in mind when he entered UCLA in the early 1980s. After “riding the bench,” he said, for the first year, however, friend Dennis Paulson suggested that Almquist join San Diego State University’s golf team. He did, Paulson and Almquist were roommates, and Almquist would go on to be the team’s No. 1 player. Paulson, on the other hand, would go on to be one of the PGA Tour’s bigger names.
Paulson has walked alongside Almquist at the tournament for the last two days.
“Dennis is a great friend, and has been since we were teenagers,” Almquist said. “He teaches me and supports me.”
Marsh’s match against Fremont’s Taylor Travis, 22, the No. 9 seed, ended in dramatic fashion as Marsh sank a six-foot putt for par to maintain his 1-up lead. Marsh was behind in the match until the 10th hole, when he squared the match with an eagle-2, a follow-up to a 40-foot chip-in eagle-3 on the par-5 eighth.
In his 6-under-par 66 (which Travis also shot), the No. 8-seed Marsh had only 22 putts, including one-putting the last six holes.
“Taylor played great, but I just made every single putt I looked at,” Marsh said. “It was great, I think the [age and play] experience really helps – you just gotta keep plugging away out there.”
Haag, a multiple NCGA champion and a nearly 30-time California State Amateur participant, defeated 20-year-old Jake Johnson of Cameron Park (No. 27), 3 and 2. Haag, who’s covering the championship on his personal blog at www.randyhaag.com, hasn’t qualified for the match play portion of the championship in 10 years, always faltering in a stroke-play round, he said. “I’m still looking for that one round that all comes together.”
Haag, a life-long amateur who had son Nicholas on the bag today, is a match-play veteran, having won 22 USGA matches in the '90s and many in NCGA and Northern California events as well.
“I love the format,” he said. “It gives someone like myself a better chance in the tournament.”
In other matches:
No. 2 seed and co-medalist Kevin Fitzgerald, 22, of Riverside, defeated Michael Drake, 22, of Fontana, 7 and 5. Fitzgerald, a UC Riverside golfer, had only played one match in his career prior to the match-play portion of the California Amateur. Drake, an alternate who got into the tournament on Monday morning, won the recent Long Beach City Match Play Championship.
No. 29 seed Estanislao Guerrero, 24, of San Diego, defeated No. 13 seed Justin Warthen, 25, of Arroyo Grande, 4 and 2. Guerrero is the 2010 Southwestern Amateur champion, and broke open what was a tight match on the 11th hole, taking advantage of a string of Warthen bogeys for the win.
No. 5 seed Rudolph, 40, of La Jolla, defeated No. 12-seed Anton Arboleda, 17, of La Canada, 2 and 1. Rudolph birdied the par-4 first hole today to take a 1-up lead, which he never lost. Arboleda has committed to play at UCLA in the fall.
No. 7 seed Grant Norton, 22, of Rancho Murieta defeated No. 10 seed Tyler Crawford, 36, of Rancho Mirage, 2 and 1. Crawford was 2 up after nine holes, but a birdie by Norton on 10, and a string of three consecutive bogeys by Crawford on holes 12-14 secured the match to Norton’s advantage.
No. 19 seed Scott Travers, 21, of Trabuco Canyon, defeated No. 30 seed Matt Williams, 19, of San Jose.
The quarterfinals and semifinals both take place tomorrow, with quarterfinal play commencing at 7:30 a.m. Semifinals begin at 1:00 p.m. Quarterfinal pairings are:
7:30 a.m.: Almquist vs. Marsh
7:40 a.m.: Guerrero vs. Rudolph
7:50 a.m.: Fitzgerald vs. Norton
8:00 a.m.: Travers vs. Haag