PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug.12, 2010) – Scott Hardy will face John Catlin in the finals of the 107th NCGA Amateur Friday, in the scheduled 36-hole finale to a week of stout competition.
Hardy, 34, has been here before, losing to PGA Tour winner Matt Bettencourt in 2000, and likes how he’s playing after a rough start to the week that saw him earn the 29th seed. “You start playing every day in these kind of events and you get in a groove,” he said. “I started hitting the ball well today.” The two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur semi-finalist defeated U.C. Davis-bound and eighth-seeded Matt Hansen 3 and 2 in an up-and-down match Hardy took control of via a birdie on 13, pars on nos. 14 and 15 and a birdie from out of the bunker on the 16th that closed out his 18-year-old opponent.
“I never feel comfortable even with a 2-up lead,” Hardy said regarding his birdie from out of the sand. “So that was great.. a little fortunate and a little bit of skill.” With wife Lori on the bag, the St. Mary’s golf coach is seeking his sixth NCGA title Friday and perhaps more importantly, looking at the rare distinction of adding the fifth different trophy to his collection having already won the Public Links (which he captured this past April), Stroke Play, Valley Amateur and Four-Ball (with partner Rich Reinsberg) since 2000.
Finalist John Catlin
Hardy faces a player he recruited in the form of 19-year-old John Catlin of Sacramento. The rising sophomore at New Mexico was Mountain West Conference freshman of the year and is playing in the NCGA Amateur for the first time. He defeated the Big West Conference freshman of the year Pace Johnson of Cal Poly 3 and 1 after building a 4-up lead via four birdies and then watching that lead get sliced in half.
“I lost some momentum,” 19th-seeded Catlin said. “But hitting a good drive on 17 got me recommitted. I hit my approach to three feet and that was the end of it.” Earlier in the summer, the North Ridge member was runner-up in the Sacramento County Championship. A victory in the NCGA Amateur would rank as his biggest achievement to date.
Two big upsets characterized the quarterfinals. Catlin took out perhaps the hottest golfer in the state, Scott Travers of Trabuco Canyon, in large fashion 5 and 3. The upset denied Travers’ quest to claim the NCGA, SCGA and State Amateur titles in the same season. The Santa Clara golfer and West Coast Conference player of the year had laid claim to the other championships earlier in the summer. Johnson defeated Kevin Wentworth in dramatic fashion with a birdie on the final hole to secure the final margin.
Hanson was responsible for the other upset, taking out #1 seeded and medalist Randy Haag 2 an 1, overcoming a two-hole deficit with 11 holes to go. Haag remains in firm control of the lead in the race for NCGA player of the year; it would be an unprecedented fifth such award for the 51-year old Olympic Club member. Hardy breezed into the semifinals with a 5 and 4 dusting of Mathew Miller of Castlewood, whose seven bogeys on the day left him unable to generate any heat on Hardy.