SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (June 29, 2012) -- Kevin Marsh (pictured), 39, of Santa Barbara and Ben Geyer, 20, of Arbuckle survived two rounds of golf Friday at La Cumbre CC to advance to the finals of the California Amateur Championship. The 36-hole final will begin at 7:30 a.m.
Geyer, a student-athlete at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, will surely need his rest tonight, as it took him a combined 42 holes to to move on from Thursday's quarterfinal and semifinal action. He defeated Santa Barbara native Jack Perry in 19 holes Thursday evening to deprive the La Cumbre locals of a true hometown event. Despite leading 2 up after 16 holes, Geyer allowed Perry back into the match with a bogey on 17 and a par on 18. Geyer birdied the first playoff hole, however, to seal the deal.
Marsh, who himself has been no stranger to extra holes this week, had possibly his easiest match of the championship thus far with a 5 & 4 win over Ronnald Monaco of Rancho Cucamonga. Monaco had earlier in the day defeated medalist and defending champion Bhavik Patel in 19 holes.
Despite currently living in Henderson, Nev., Marsh is no stranger to La Cumbre, having grown up in Santa Barbara and frequenting the host club often. He will surely be a crowd favorite during the final tomorrow.
Marsh is a two-time winner of the SCGA Amateur Championship as well as the 2005 USGA Mid-Am Champion, but has never before won the California Amateur. He said earlier this week that winning the title at home would "be really special.""I've never won this event, so to win it here would be great," he said.
Geyer, on the other hand, has much less tournament golf experience, but has put together an impressive week that includes three extra-hole victories, including one over another Santa Barbara native, Niall Platt. Pressure clearly doesn't get to Geyer, who sunk a birdie on the par 4 18th hole in his quarterfinal match just to stay alive and keep the match going.
Marsh and Geyer actually played La Cumbre together earlier this week, when they were in the same pairing for the stroke-play portion of the championship Monday and Tuesday. Marsh stuck around Friday when his match was over to see who his opponent would be, and joked to Geyer, "looks like I have to play with you again!"
California Amateur fans may remember a similar situation in 2010, when a local mid-am (Harry Rudolph) faced a West Coast Conference college stud Scott Travers in the final round of the event. It was Travers who bested Rudolph in that one.
Ronnald Monaco of Rancho Cucamonga and Ben Geyer (pictured) of Arbuckle both had their backs against the wall Friday morning, trailing 1 down heading to the 18th hole in their respective California Amateur Championship quarterfinal matches. Both rose to the challenge, however, as Monaco defeated defending champion and medalist Bhavik Patel in 19 holes while Geyer defeated Matt Hansen of Los Osos in 23 holes, the longest matches of the tournament thus far.
Monaco played from behind for most of his match, not taking the lead until the 19th and final hole. Defending champion Patel led by as many as three, an advantage he held from holes 10 through 13, before Monaco began mounting his comeback. The Santa Clara Broncos graduate birdied three of his final six holes to close out the match.
Geyer and Hansen had the match of the championship thus far, highlighted by a clutch birdie on the par 4 18th by Geyer to send the match into extra holes. Like Monaco, Geyer did not hold a lead in the match until it was over.
Both will be back on the course this afternoon as the championship move to the semifinals.They will, however, have quite the challenge ahead of them again Friday, as they both face off against Santa Barbara locals. Monaco will face Kevin Marsh, who defeated Cameron Rappleye 2 & 1 in the morning, while Geyer will battle Northwestern golfer Jack Perry, who cruised to a 7 & 5 victory over 15-year-old Sean Crocker in his quarterfinal match.
Marsh, a former SCGA Amateur Champion and USGA Mid-Am Champion, had to come from behind against Rappleye, who held an advantage in the match until the 15th hole. Marsh carded two birdies on the front nine, but an impressive four on the back."I didn't have my legs on the front nine, but I just played a lot better on the back," said Marsh.