PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 13, 2012) -- A Carmichael resident who attends the University of New Mexico co-leads the first round of the 109th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship and it is not two-time defending champion John Catlin. Austin Roberts, 19-years-old, holds that honor with San Jose’s Jay Myers after both players posted incredible rounds of six-under par 66 at Spyglass Hill GC.
Roberts got the ball rolling quick in his bogey-free opening round as he birdied the par-5 first hole. Birdies on the sixth and ninth allowed Roberts to make the turn at 33 and from there things continued to get better. An eagle on the par-5 11th got him to five-under for the round and to cap things off, Roberts made a birdie on arguably the toughest hole on the course, the par-4 16th. A second nine of 33 gave the rising UNM sophomore an immaculate six-under 66, an unheard of score for a championship event at Spyglass Hill GC.
Myers, 22-years-old, finished a half hour after Roberts posted what was thought to be an untouchable score, but he too finished with several birdies and an eagle. The recently graduated San Jose Spartan started his round off the 10th tee and made birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 to fire a solid two-under par 34 after nine holes. Then a four-hole stretch saw Myers go four-under par with two birdies and an eagle. After birdies on the first and third holes, Myers made an eagle-2 on the 360-yard par-4 fourth to get him to six-under par. On his way in, the San Jose resident would exchange a bogey on the seventh for a birdie on eighth to remain at six-under.
Ben Geyer continued his sizzling summer with a two-under par 70 and held the first round lead for a few hours as the 20-year-old fired the low round in the morning wave. When the afternoon wave completed play, Geyer still managed a solid position, finding himself in a tie for third place with Taylor Travis of Fremont, four strokes off the lead.
The Arbuckle native has already had an impressive summer with an NCGA Amateur Stroke Play title to his name and a runner-up finish at the 101st California State Amateur Championship, which have put him atop the NCGA Player of the Year points list. The soon-to-be-senior at St. Mary’s College believes the biggest difference in his game, primarily has to do with his mindset.
“When I enter tournaments now, it’s not like I’m trying to get top-10 finishes anymore, I’m trying to win,” said Geyer, explaining his goal for the stroke play rounds was to shoot two rounds in the 60s.
Geyer played a steady round Monday with three birdies coming on Nos. 4, 6 and 14, while his lone bogey of the day came on the par-3 fifth hole. The 20-year-old credited his good play to his ball striking, explaining that he hit his driver well and had seven birdie putts within 12 to 15 feet over an eight-hole stretch.
“I had a lot of misreads, but they were barely missing the hole, so I’m not worried about my putting,” said Geyer.
Travis got off to a quick start with birdies on Nos. 1, 3 and 5, but almost gave it all right back with a double-bogey on the uphill par-4 sixth. Birdies on the eighth and ninth allowed Travis a front-nine score of 33, but the 22-year-old would post a one-over par 37 back nine, making birdie on the 11th and bogeys on Nos. 14 and 18.
Matt Ogden of Salinas, Reedley’s Tal Tartaglia and Eric Ash of Loomis also posted under-par scores, with rounds of one-under par 71. The trio currently sits in a tie for fifth place. Ogden, who started his round off the 10th tee, got off to a quick start as he birdied three of his first eight holes. (Nos. 10, 15 and 17). The 20-year-old cooled a little with four bogeys over his final 10 holes, but was still able to convert two more birdies in his round on Nos. 4 and 5. Tartaglia’s round saw most of the action in the middle as he birdied the sixth, 10th, and 11th before bogeying the 12th and 14th. Ash, teeing off the 10th, got off to a bad start with a double-bogey-5 on 12 and a bogey on No. 16. However, five birdies over his final 10 holes (Nos. 18, 1, 4, 5 and 7) to go along with a bogey (No. 8) allowed him to finish in red numbers.
Currently finding himself in a tie for 47th place and in danger of missing out on match play is 2010 and 2011 champion Catlin. The rising UNM senior had a birdie-less first round score of four-over par 76, but still played solidly for most of his round. His first bogey didn’t come until the 12th hole and his other three came over the final three (Nos. 16, 17 and 18).
“I didn’t take advantage of the par-5s [today],” said Catlin, succinctly summing up his round.
Tuesday the waves will reverse with the competitors from Monday afternoon’s wave going out first and the Monday morning wave going out last. At the conclusion of 36 holes, the top 32 seeds will advance to match play, which begins Wednesday. In the event of a tie for the final spots, a sudden-death playoff will take place immediately after Tuesday play is complete.