SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Sept 12, 2010) -- “New blood” was the theme for the Amateur team in this year’s Century Club Matches, and the strategy worked beautifully, with a little help from a colorful old guy.
New Amateur captain Joe Wagner had four rookies on his team , thanks to some new qualifying rules, and two of them – Harry Rudolph III and John Kollus – compiled 3-0 records as the Ams wrapped up a 14-10 victory Sunday over the Professionals at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.
The Amateurs needed only four points out of 12 singles matches after dominating the first two days, but the Pros made it a nail-biter by capturing 5 ½ of the first seven points. The Ams prevailed when they won the last three matches, including the clincher by Pat Duncan Sr., the local legend who has played in 28 of the 39 editions of the Matches.
The four-point margin of victory was the most by the Amateurs since the first year of the current scoring format in 1997, and the victory evened the series record at 19 wins apiece with one tie.
The Amateurs got singles triumphs from Rudolph, Kollus, Duncan Sr., Pat “Buddy” Duncan Jr. and Pete Roberts. The Pro wins came from Scott Mahlberg, Gary Sowinski, Greg Casagranda, Justin Hicks, Bruce Nakamura and Gary Glaser.
“Amazing. This is the most fun I’ve had in a golf tournament, by far,” said Kollus, a 31-year-old member at The Farms who scored the most lopsided victory Sunday, a 7-and-6 win over Grant Strobel.
Kollus is a poster boy for the new approach by the Amateur team. A former tennis player, he only began playing competitive golf two years ago, but got hooked. Kollus qualified for last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur and made the match play portion of this year’s State Amateur Championship.
Those credentials are more weighted now under the direction of Wagner, who has organized local Golf Channel amateur events for several years. He put more emphasis on finishes in USGA and SCGA tournaments, and the resulting team likely was the strongest the Amateurs have fielded in years.
Of course, this year it helped to have San Diego’s top amateur pitching in. Rudolph, 40, who lost in the finals of the State Am this year and reached the match play in last month’s U.S. Amateur, was clearly the Ams’ team leader. He combined with partners for a pair of wins in alternate shot and best ball, and he won the day’s most anticipated singles match in a runaway.
In a reunion of men who competed against each other in the ‘90s on the Nike Tour, Rudolph lined up against Chris Starkjohann, 54, the recent winner of the SCPGA’s junior and senior titles. Rudolph poured in six birdies over 13 holes and won 6 and 5.
“It’s exactly what you want. You want to play their best guy,” Rudolph said. “I think my team had confidence in me to go out there and set the tone.”
Rudolph was slated to play in last year’s Century Club Matches, but had to bow out when he qualified for the U.S. Mid-Am. He enjoyed playing on a team for the first time since 1992, when he was the No. 1 player at the University of Arizona and his Wildcats won the national championship.
“This was fun,” Rudolph said. “Nobody was happy to just be here. They all wanted to win.”