PEBBLE BEACH – Andrew Biggadike has a one-stroke lead after the first round of stroke-play qualifying for the 108th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship.
The Olympic Club member’s sterling five-under 67 set an early tone on a picture-perfect day for scoring. Earlier in the year, the NCGA volunteer placed fifth at the NCGA Stroke Play; in 2010, he placed second in the San Mateo County Championship. Cory McElyea of De Laveaga and Kevin Wentworth are one back. McElyea, a rising sophomore at Washington, has had a good summer, making a run to the quarterfinals of the State Amateur at The Olympic Club and posting a top-ten finish in the NCGA Stroke Play. Wentworth was the runner-up at the State Amateur at The Olympic Club in June.
Northern California legend Randy Haag is three back of Biggadike. Haag, the 2010 medalist and five-time NCGA Player of the Year, is fresh off capturing low amateur honors at the British Senior Open for the second year in a row. Also three back is 2010 Valley Amateur champion Keith Okasaki of William Land Park. Other players finishing under par – there were a total of 20 players at par or better – include the Ranch GC’s Anthony Barerra, Nick Moore of the Golf Mart GC, Matt Pinizzotto of Corral de Tierra, Spencer Fletcher of Los Altos and junior golfer Bryson Dechambeau of Belmont CC, who earlier in 2011 grabbed a Junior Tour of Northern California title at Belmont as well as the Fresno County Amateur.
Other notables in early pursuit include 2009 State Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez of Diablo, who carded an even-par 72, and St. Mary’s Golf Coach Scott Hardy, who is six back. Hardy was runner-up in this same event in 2010 and has already posted wins in two NCGA major events in 2011 – the Public Links in April and the Stroke Play Championship in July. Defending champion John Catlin of North Ridge CC is very much in the mix, also posting a first-round 72.
The second round of stroke play qualifying is scheduled for Tuesday after which there is a cut to the players with the low 32 scores for match play. Two rounds of match play are set for Wednesday, the quarter and semifinals are on Thursday, and the scheduled 36-hole final takes place Friday at Spyglass. The stroke-play qualifying score that has made the cut has varied over the years, with six-over 150 qualifying last year and 10-over 154 making the cut the two years prior. If Monday’s benign scoring conditions continue, that score will most certainly be much lower.