PEBBLE BEACH – Danny Paniccia and Mike Stieler lead after the second round of the 48th Annual NCGA Four-Ball Championship at Spyglass Hill GC. The duo followed an opening round 68 on Friday, with a 65 Saturday to get to 133, 11-under par.
The two mid-amateurs from the San Joaquin Valley, who started off No. 10, got going with Paniccia making a birdie on No. 11 and Stieler making another on No. 15. The key to their 65 though would occur over a four-hole stretch starting on No. 17 and ending on No. 2, where they went five-under par. Starting on the 17th, Paniccia made an eagle from the fairway and then followed that with three straight birdies on Nos. 18, 1 and 2.
“We thought about going for it on [No.] 17 because the tees were up and it was only playing 312 [yards] to a back flag. But instead we decided to lay it back with a utility wood, play the percentages to the right yardage, and it worked out for once,” said Paniccia, who holed his second shot from 91 yards away.
Over their final seven holes, Paniccia would add one more birdie on No. 4 and six pars as he finished with a bogey-free 66 on his own ball. The Riverbend GC employees have been in contention several times before in this event, finishing tied for third in 2010 and tied for fourth in 2011. Last year, the duo had another great chance going into the final day tied for third before faltering with a final round 77 and tying for 11th place. Despite never coming away as winners in this event, Paniccia and Stieler don’t have much anxiety going into tomorrow.
“There’s not much pressure on us, we’re just having fun,” said Stieler.
Tied for second place at a 36-hole score of 134, 10-under par are the teams of John Sawin and Robert Grube, and Eddie Davis and Jon Peterson.
Sawin and Grube, who opened with a three-under par 69 Friday, also posted a seven-under par 65 in Saturday morning’s wave. The San Francisco residents, similar to Paniccia and Stieler, also fired a 65 in bogey-free fashion making seven birdies to go along with 11 pars. Starting off the back-nine, the two mid-amateurs who are competing in their first ever NCGA Four-Ball, took advantage of the par-5s making birdies on Nos. 11 and 14. Then things really heated up for the duo as they made three straight birdies on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 for an opening-nine of 31. Sawin and Grube would then make their fourth straight birdie on the par-5 first and add one more birdie on the par-5 seventh, for a second-nine 34. On the day, Sawin and Grube went four-under on the par-5s, birdieing all four of them.
“We just kept it in play and hit a lot of quality iron shots, which gave us a lot of looks at birdie,” said Grube.
Davis and Peterson, who started the day alone in second place after a first round 66, didn’t play as sharp on Saturday putting together a 68. The duo started off hot making four birdies on their first seven holes (Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 7) to make the turn at 32. After making a birdie on No. 11 to get to five-under for the day, the rest of the back nine didn’t go too well for the pair as they made a bogey on No. 13 and were shutout of making any additional birdies.
“We just couldn’t convert on any birdie opportunities down the stretch,” said Peterson.
Davis and Peterson, who played in the final group in 2011, will play in the penultimate group on Sunday and hope to capitalize on their opportunity this time around.
“It’s always fun when you’re in the hunt, we’ll just try not to double bogey [No.] 16 [tomorrow],” said Davis, referring to the double-bogey 6 they took in 2011 to lose by a single stroke.
Tied for fourth place at 135, nine-under par are the teams of Randy Haag and Jim Knoll, and Cameron Champ and Gary Dunn.
Haag and Knoll, who have eight NCGA Player/Senior Player of Year awards between them, matched the low score of the morning wave with a seven-under par 65. After opening with a 70 on Friday, the formidable duo played much better Saturday making seven birdies and zero bogeys. Haag and Knoll scored four birdies on the front (Nos. 1, 4, 7 and 9) for an opening nine of 32 and three birdies on the back (Nos. 10, 14 and 18) to close with a 33.
Champ and Dunn, who began the day in a tie for third after opening with a 67, played one stroke worse on Saturday posting a 68. The duo made six birdies on the day, but also relinquished strokes by taking two bogeys.
Alone in sixth place at 136 are SCGA members Steve Sear and Mark Sear. The Sears matched their first round 68 on Saturday, making 10 pars, six birdies and two bogeys compared to Friday’s 68, which included four birdies, two bogeys and an eagle.
First-round leaders Eric Ash and Kyle Listar feature two other teams—Matt Hansen and Tyler Raber, and Josh Stone and Tyler Leeworthy—tied for seventh at 138, six-under par. Ash and Listar, who opened up with a first round 64, followed that with a 74 on Saturday. With less than 13 hours between the end of their first round and the beginning of their second round, it would seem the 20- and 19-year-old were affected by the quick turnaround, but not so according to Listar.
“We just weren’t making as many putts,” he said. “We weren’t hitting it as close and no putts fell.”
Saturday’s cutline—the low 40 scores plus ties—came at even-par 144 with 42 teams advancing. That group is highlighted by defending champions Russell Humphrey and James Watt, who equaled a second consecutive day of 72.
Sunday’s final round will begin at 7:30 a.m. off double tees.
View results for Northern California (NCGA) Four-Ball Championship