PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (July 13, 2012) -– Ben Corfee, only 18-years-old, leads after the first round of the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship after posting a 4-under 68, Friday afternoon at Poppy Hills. His day didn’t start as he would have liked as he bogeyed the par-4 first hole, but birdies on holes three and eight got Corfee to make the turn at 1-under par. After taking a bogey on the par-3 11th, Corfee played the last eight holes 4-under par making an eagle on the par-4 14th and birdies on 12 and 18. On the 14th hole after hitting a solid drive that left him a little less than 110 yards out, Corfee holed out from the fairway with his 54 degree wedge.
“I knew if I hit greens today that I would have a chance to shoot a good round, and I hit a bunch of them today,” said Corfee.
The incoming freshman at UC-Davis knows not to get ahead of himself as he goes into tomorrow’s round with the lead. His game plan is to just worry about one shot at a time. As he explained after his round the only thing he’s worrying about is that opening tee shot. “I just need to hit the first fairway and go from there,” he said.
Six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag held the 18-hole lead briefly as he was the first group out in the afternoon wave at 12:30 p.m. and turned in a 3-under par 69. Haag’s round included four birdies and one bogey and was nearly flawless as he went 17 holes without a bogey before taking a bogey-6 on the par-5 ninth hole. Starting off the 10th tee, Haag got off to a quick start making birdies on 12, 13 and 17 to make the turn at 33. Another birdie on the par-3 second hole got him to 4-under par before a string of six pars and his lone bogey.
Sitting only two strokes back and alone in third is Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, who posted a 2-under par 70, also in the afternoon. Geyer, who just recently played some amazing golf at the California State Amateur two weeks ago, got off to a real fast start to his day birdieing four of his first seven holes before a couple bad mistakes. On the eighth hole with only 110 yards to the flag from the middle of the fairway, Geyer took a double-bogey-6, while similarly on the 14th with 120 yards to the flag from the middle of the fairway he took a bogey-5.
“I’m playing real good right now, but I left a few shots out there,” said Geyer. “[My score] should have been a lot lower today.”
In a three-way tie for fourth place at 1-under par 71 is Justin Estrada, Neil Summers and Bobby Bucey. Estrada got hot in the middle of his round as he birdied holes seven, 10, 13 and 14 to go along with his bogeys on holes three, five and 15. Summers, who started off the 10th tee exchanged bogeys for birdies on the even-numbered holes of the back-nine, taking bogeys on 12 and 16 and birdies on 14 and 18. He then ran off eight straight pars before closing with a birdie on the ninth. Bucey made five birdies in his round on holes three, eight, 12, 14 and 17 along with four bogeys on the seventh, 11th, 13th and 15th.
Defending champion Scott Hardy posted an even-par 72 to find himself in a tie for seventh place. The St. Mary’s head golf coach feels pretty good about where he’s at considering he hasn’t played an 18-hole round of golf since the final round of NCGA Four-Ball Championship over two months ago.
“Anytime you have an afternoon round here [at Poppy Hills], anything par or better is a good score,” said Hardy.
The two players who join Hardy at even-par 72 are Kyle Gentry and Danny Paniccia. Gentry made four birdies and an eagle on the day, which were countered by four bogeys and a double bogey. Paniccia’s round consisted of three bogeys and a double bogey to go along with five birdies. The two players co-led with their even-par total after the morning wave as not nearly as many good scores were posted during that stretch. In the morning only 41 of the 72 players were able to break 80 and none broke par. The afternoon proved to be much different as six players found red numbers.
Tomorrow, the waves will be reversed with the players who played this afternoon playing in the Saturday morning wave, while the players who played Friday morning will tee it up Saturday afternoon. At the conclusion of Saturday’s round a cut will be made for the low 40 ties to come back and compete on Sunday. With 18 holes in the books, the projected 36-hole cut looks to be 152. The cut in 2011 for the championship fell at 151.