SAN FRANCISCO (June 23, 2011) – Eight players advanced to the quarterfinals of the 100th California State Amateur at the Olympic Club after Thursday’s round of 16 action.
The first two matches of the day were a virtual replay of Wednesday’s first round in that they both ended early. Medalist and #1 seed Philip Chian of Covina took out Cal alum George Gandranata 5 and 4 while Olympic Club member Randy Haag bested Cameron Rappleye of Elk Grove 4 and 3. The winners of both matches started with early leads and never let up.
Chian credits a stellar 67 during the final round at the Braveheart Classic in late April that propelled his Long Beach State team to victory for kick-starting the roll the 20 year old has been on. “My game’s always been consistent but my college coach has helped me with my short game and it’s been getting better and better,” Chian said. He faces Haag in the quarterfinals in a match-up of the #1 and #25 seeds.
Haag has a spot in the State Amateur quarterfinals for the 10th time and the second year in a row. Champion Scott Travers took out the 52-year-old in 2010, a loss that still bothers the five time NCGA Player of the Year. “I had him on the ropes but I let it get away from me,” he said. “But that’s match play. To win this tournament you can’t have a bad day. This course is playing tough, so if you can get a lead, you can force your opponent to make birdies to catch you.”
Jake Johnson of Cameron Park defeated Shotaro Ban of San Jose 8 and 7 as Ban struggled. Johnson, a rising senior at Sacramento State was a first team All-American Sky Conference selection in 2011. Johnson plays Sam Smith of Turlock, a rising junior at USC. Smith upended Aaron West of Woodland Hills 3 and 2. “I really prepared hard for this event,” Smith said. “At Lake Merced (in 2009) I came up short and I really want to win this.” The 2007 NCGA Junior champion lost in the semifinals of the State Amateur to eventual champion Geoff Gonzalez. He credited a strong performance at the NCAA National Championship at Karsten Creek in Oklahoma in May for commencing his summer season on a positive note.
Fresno State’s Bhavik Patel advanced with a 4 and 2 win over Pace Johnson. The Bakersfield resident faces Tain Lee of San Juan Capistrano in an all-Southern California match (there are three Southern Californians and five Northern Californians amongst the final eight). Lee is a rising senior at Claremont McKenna and finished runner-up at the NCAA Division III championship in May.
Arnold’s Kevin Wentworth, at age 27 the second oldest player left in the field, blew out Ben Geyer of Arbuckle 5 and 4. Wentworth will face Cory McElyea of Santa Cruz, who knocked out Ben Doyle of La Jolla. McElyea is a rising sophomore at the University of Washington. Wentworth is a Cal State Hayward alum, where he was NCAA Division III third team All-America.
The quarterfinals begin Friday at 7:30 with the semifinals set for Friday afternoon. The scheduled 36-hole finals tees off Saturday at 7:30 a.m.
Short Matches: For the second day in a row, the classic 18th on the Lake Course saw very little action. Perhaps a testament to the course’s difficulty, in that once a player gets down it’s very difficult to come back, the development is still surprising given the the ebb and flow and vicissitudes of the match play format. Of 24 matches in the championship thus far, only four have reached the 18th and only one has gone beyond.