Buddy Duncan defends San Diego Match Play title
-- San Diego Am Golf
-- San Diego Am Golf

RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (April 1, 2012) -- The final four players (and the top four seeds in the tournament) teed it up again on Sunday on a cool and windy day. By the time it was all said and done, the front moved thru and a familiar champion was crowned under sunny skies Sunday afternoon.

After winning their respective semi-final matches identically in 2 & 1 fashion, 1-seed and defending champion Buddy Duncan of Rancho Santa Fe squared off at high noon against 3-seed Joe Ryon of Carlsbad. In a match that deserved a sizeable gallery, Duncan drew first blood and was a quick 1-up after one hole thanks to a birdie on the opener. Ryon would waste no time and respond right away, making a birdie on the difficult par-three 2nd hole. Both players would birdie the third, and Ryon would take the lead after a par on the fourth hole.

Duncan then went into overdrive, making birdies on 5, 8, and 9 to go out in 4-under par 32 and take a 2-up lead on Ryon who was a very respectable 2-under par after nine holes of play. Duncan would win the 12th with a birdie and Ryon, perhaps pressing a bit, three-putted the 13th to fall 4-down to Duncan. Seemingly with the match in-hand, Duncan would make bogey on 14 and 15 to see his lead dwindle to 2-up with three to play. After a marvelous wedge on #16, Duncan had a 4-footer for the birdie and the win but pushed it, moving the match to #17 dormie for Duncan at 2-up.

Duncan would go on to bogey 17 and the gritty Ryon just kept making pars to stay in the match.

On the 18th hole, both players laid up and both hit pretty pedestrian wedge shots, Duncan flying the green again as he did on his way to making bogey on #14 and #17 and Ryon reaching the middle tier with a difficult birdie putt. Duncan hit a very nice pitch to about 5-feet, leaving Ryon with an opportunity for his first birdie since #3. Ryon hit an excellent putt that would have extended the match, catching the hole and lipping out, settling for par. Duncan, who was 5-under par his first 12 holes and 3-over his last 6 holes, stepped up and drained the five-foot putt to win the San Diego County Match Play Championship, 1-up.

Duncan, holding the trophy for the 2nd consecutive year, was asked about his match today. “I played my best golf all week on the front nine and started concentrating on the wrong stuff out there when I got to 4-up. I am happy to win and learned a lot out there…I stayed aggressive which is good”. With the gallery that included a very nervous Dad (and 9-time City Amateur Championship, Pat Duncan), Duncan got off to a dream start in his final match and defeated Phil Walker, Scott Stratton, Spencer Thurn, and Joe Ryon on his way to the title.

Joe Ryon played well in his own right and is an absolute technician who can manufacture any kind of shot out there. Ryon was able to get past Pete Roberts and Cavin McCall (both matches went into overtime on Saturday), and #2-seed Gary Robinson on his way to the runner-up finish. Look for Ryon to be a name for years to come, and don’t be surprised if you see him in the final match here in 2013.

In the consolation match, #2 seed Gary Robinson was 1-down most the day to Spencer Thurn. Robinson would make 2 birdies down the stretch that proved to be the difference, downing Thurn by a 1-up margin.

There are whispers out there that Duncan might try his hand soon at the professional game. But, for now, he has some bragging rights at home being a 2-time County Match Play Champion!

ABOUT THE San Diego County Match Play

Open to players with a 6.0 handicap or less. Qualifying round is 18 holes on Sunday, April 27. Matches begin on Friday, May 2 and run through the champion is crowned in the afternoon of Sunday, May 4. Defending champion Buddy Duncan has turned pro, so the No. 1 seed is up for grabs.

Host course Aviara Golf Club just hosted the LPGA Tour's Kia Classic.

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