PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (July 15, 2012) -- Going into Sunday’s final round all indications pointed to a win likely to come from a young up-and-coming NCGA player named Ben. El Macero resident Ben Corfee and Ben Geyer of Arbuckle separated themselves from the field after 36 holes as Corfee stood at 140 and Geyer stood at 141, with their nearest competitors at 144. After Sunday’s round was complete the odds turned out to be correct as the 20-year-old Geyer posted his third straight under-par score to win by four shots. A second consecutive day of 71 put him at a 54-hole score of 212, 4-under par, giving him the title of NCGA Stroke Play Champion.
Geyer captured the lead early in the round after his fellow-competitor Corfee double-bogeyed the first hole, while Geyer parred. Another bogey by Corfee on the par-3 second, gave Geyer a two-stroke cushion as he made par. By the end of nine holes the 20-year-old had a five-stroke advantage over Corfee and four strokes over the rest of the field as Geyer went out in 36, while Corfee struggled with a front-nine 42.
“My game plan definitely didn’t change [seeing Corfee struggle], I was just going to hit every shot as well as I could and try to make some putts,” said Geyer.
On the back nine Geyer continued to play steady as he made six total pars, two birdies and one bogey to post a final round red number. Despite winning by four strokes, Geyer really was I hoping he’d play better and run away with the win.
“It’s kind of bad [to say this], but I wanted to win shooting 66 or something, making sure no one else feel like they had any chance to win,” he said.
NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Runner-up: Nick Moore (Not pictured, Third Place: Danny Paniccia)Finishing in second alone at 216 was Monterey’s Nick Moore, who shot the low round of the day with a 3-under par 69. Moore attributed his great play to ball-striking as he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and also his putting, at least on the back nine, where he fired a 5-under par 31. After birdieing the 10th hole, Moore made an eagle-3 on the 12th hole and followed that with a birdie on the par-4 13th. He then finished his round in style making a birdie on the par-5 18th.
“I was just happy with my game today,” said Moore. “I just went out and tried to keep the ball in the middle of the fairway and make some putts.”
Taking third place was Danny Paniccia of Clovis, who finished at a 54-hole total of 217, 1-over par, after posting a 1-under par 71. Paniccia played flawless the first 12 holes as he didn’t make any bogeys and converted three birdies on holes two, 10 and 12. However, he dropped a couple shots coming down the stretch with bogeys Nos. 13 and 15.
Rounding out the top five were six-time NCGA Player of the Year, Randy Haag, and defending champion Scott Hardy at 2-over par, 218. Both players started the day at 2-over par and finished there after each shot an even-par round of 72.
Hardy, the St. Mary’s College head golf coach, did get an apology from Geyer at the trophy ceremony, who is one of Hardy’s top players. The senior-to-be at St. Mary’s stated that while he was sorry he had to prevent his coach from defending his title, he was happy to keep the trophy in the St. Mary’s family.
What’s more, Geyer was relieved just to claim the victory. The past month the St. Mary’s senior-to-be has been playing some of his best ever golf, including runner-up finishes at the California State Amateur and the Sahalee Players Championship where he lost in a playoff.
“I was eager to get a win,” he said. “I texted my brother on the plane coming back from the U.S. Amateur Public Links, that I wanted to get a win, whether it’s the NCGA Stroke Play or the U.S. Amateur, I just want to get a win. So it feels good to get a win.”