Marsh defends title at Stocker Cup
- Michael Mustacchi photo
- Michael Mustacchi photo
by Scott Seward, for AmateurGolf.com

CARMEL, Calif. (October 24, 2010) - Kevin Marsh burnished an already sterling reputation as one of the finest mid-amateurs on the West Coast with a second consecutive victory at the 19th annual Stocker Cup.

The 37-year-old came from four strokes behind in the final round – again – to overtake Brad Wilder of Ft. Wright, Kentucky by one shot at the Tom Fazio-designed Preserve Golf Club on a rainy, blustery day.

Coming into the final round, Wilder had built a four-shot lead on the strength of terrific first- and third-round scores of 68 and 67, respectively. But after extending the lead to five after the first hole, the 31-year-old would give back three shots via consecutive three-putt greens. “It flipped quickly,” Marsh said. “The weather, in a way, made it easier because I was just trying to survive instead of focusing on what anyone else was doing. Then I got on a run and that was huge.”

That run amounted to three straight birdies on holes six through eight. The Las Vegas resident crafted a two-stroke lead until a bogey on 16 left the door open for Wilder. But solid chipping from the eventual champion brought pars on 17 and 18 and the victory, punctuated by a six-foot par putt on the final hole for a two-under 70 and a seven-under 281 total.

“He hadn’t missed one of that length all day,” Wilder said. “So I knew I had to make mine.” But the runner-up’s 25-footer slid just underneath the hole. The University of Cincinnati alum had been on a roll. Two weeks prior, he and partner (and Stocker Cup competitor) Mark Knecht captured the Bear’s Invitational in Jupiter, Florida. A putting tip from Knecht Wednesday seemed to unlock the Kentuckian, producing the lead. “I’m proud of the way I played the last 12 holes,” Wilder said, referencing a one-under performance over that stretch. But his final- round 75 (for a six-under 282 total) was not enough to put away the seasoned champion.

With the weather and course difficulty, the final round quickly became a two-horse race as attention focused on the final pairing. Mike McCoy of West Des Moines, Iowa took third place on the strength of the only other sub- par final round, a 71 that left McCoy eight behind the champion. California State Amateur finalist Harry Rudolph of La Jolla took fourth while Randy Haag of Burlingame and Steve Hudson or Birmingham, Alabama tied for fifth. By virtue of a scorecard playoff, Haag earned his second consecutive Tatum Trophy, named for former USGA president Sandy Tatum and given to the best finisher over age 50.

Marsh’s victory adds to his collection of trophies, which includes the 2009 Stocker Cup, 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur, 2006 and 2008 SCGA Amateurs, and consecutive Carlton Woods Invitational titles, to name just a few. The Pepperdine alum is only the second back-to- back winner – Michael Brannon in 1994-1995 was the other. “I’ve played some good golf over the past five years,” the champion said. “I’ve been consistent and have given myself chances to win.”

Based on the results of another Stocker Cup victory, the champion is giving himself shots at the winner’s circle more often than not.

At Saturday night’s awards dinner, the Elliott Cup was presented to B-Player John Nichols of Rancho Murieta and Randy Haag. The Elliott Cup is a 54-hole best-ball team competition that pits one of the scratch A-Players with a B-Player competing at 90% of his assigned handicap. Other awards for lowest daily rounds were also presented.


* Marsh joins an elite group of multiple Stocker title winners including Brannon, Randy Haag ('92 and '97) and Craig Doell ('04 and '07).

* Competitors praised the 7,067-yard Preserve GC and its superb conditioning, directed by superintendent Cory Isom.

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