PEBBLE BEACH - Kevin Wentworth claimed medalist honors in the 108th playing of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill.
The 27-year-old Diablo Grande member posted two sub-par rounds (68-71) in carding the best score by a commanding four strokes – he was the only player in the field under par both rounds. The Cal State Hayward alum is a self-described late bloomer, but is enjoying a good season in 2011. The Arnold resident made a run to the finals of the California State Amateur in June, made it through U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Ruby Hill and captured the Monterey County Four-Ball.
Scott Travers carded the best round of the second day, a three-under 68, in earning the #2 seed. The 2010 State Amateur and SCGA Amateur champion is an Association member of the NCGA, and attributed his seven-shot improvement from the first day to a late Monday practice session. “I found something in my putting after my round yesterday,” the Santa Clara alum and 2010 WCC Player of the Year said. “And I really rolled it well today.” Travers is looking to improve on his 2010 performance in this same event; the Trabuco Canyon native made it to the quarterfinals before getting upended by eventual champion John Catlin.
Two junior golfers played their way into the final 32 – Bryson Dechambeau of Belmont CC, the Junior Tour of Northern California’s leading playing in 2011, and 15-year-old Sebastian Crampton of YOC Monterey Bay.
Matt Pinizzotto, a recent high school graduate, made the match-play field on the strength of his performance on Spyglass’ 11th hole. The Corral de Tierra member double-eagled the par 5 in the first round Monday, and eagled it during Tuesday’s second round.
Defending champion Catlin of North Ridge CC earned a chance to repeat his win, posting an even-par 144. The New Mexico golfer has the steady game that’s a tough out in match play. Last year’s runner-up, Scott Hardy, earned another try at one of the only NCGA titles to elude him. The St. Mary’s golf coach has already posted wins in the NCGA Public Links and Stroke Play in 2011.
First-round leader Andrew Biggadike was unable to duplicate his hot 67 opening. The NCGA tournament official struggled to a 77 Tuesday for an even-par 144 total.
Five-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag qualified for match play for the 30th time in his storied career. The two-time winner of this event (’92-’93) is well aware of what lies ahead. “This is a marathon,” the Olympic Club member said. “It’s one shot at a time. There’s no hiding from the physical demands of match play events. When your legs get tired, golf gets tough. But it’s been too long since I’ve won this.”
Indeed, the 32-player field faces two rounds of match play Wednesday, the quarter and semifinals on Thursday and the scheduled 36-hole final on Friday. The long grind of the week is the primary reason it’s been 10 years since the last mid-amateur won the title.
The cut came at six-over 150, the same number as 2010. After a first round that saw 20 players shoot par or better, Tuesday’s fog, typical for Spyglass, brought the field’s scoring back to the norm. Surprisingly, there was no playoff for the final spots, an anomaly in match-play events.