Scott Raber (left) and Ben Corfee
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The message that Davis residents Ben Corfee and Scott Raber got from their moms on Mother’s Day was, ‘Win a title for us.’
The two ended up fulfilling the requests.
Corfee and Raber shot a final round 6-under 66, coming alive on the back-nine, to hold off a slew of challengers and win the 49th annual NCGA Four-Ball Championship on Sunday at par-72 Spyglass Hill.
The duo, who defeated co-runner-ups Matt Cohn and Nick Moore and Jason Anthony and Randy Haag, finished the 54-hole event at 17-under 199, just two shots off the championship record for low winning score.
“It’s fun,” Raber said. “Doing it with one of your good friends makes it even better.”
The two, who grew up on the same street in Davis and have known each other since around age four (their parents are friends), took control of the event with a stellar 64 in Saturday’s second round that gave them a three-shot lead entering the finale.
They’d win the title by playing their final 10 holes at 6-under.But it wasn’t easy, at least early on.
Following their only bogey of the day on No.6, Corfee and Raber suddenly found themselves tied with fellow final foursome mates Jerry Ledzinski and Jeff Britton of Tehama Golf Club, who had started their round by going 3-under through six.
Also charging in groups ahead were Moore and Cohn and the tandem of Haag and Anthony.
“That bogey hurt, but we knew it was still early,” said Corfee, a 20-year-old red-shirt junior at UC Davis. “We figured if we could get to 68 someone else was going to have go really low.”
Ledzinki and Britton’s brief run would end on the 8th when they made bogey. A hole later on the 9th, Corfee and Raber, 22, got another shot back from Ledzinski and Britton when Corfee knocked his 9-iron approach shot to within 3 feet of the pin for an easy birdie.
After making the turn, Corfee and Raber, who formerly played at Chico State, went on a charge of their own. The two were flawless on the back-nine, carding a bogey-free, 5-under 31.
On the 10th, Raber hit his approach shot to within 8 feet of the flagstick. He never had to putt after Corfee drained a 25-footer for birdie.
“At that point we knew we were back in position,” Corfee said.
Ledzinski and Britton never made another run, going 1-under on the back-nine for a 69 to finish T-4.
“I was hoping we’d get into a match play situation on the back-nine,” Ledinzski said. “It was disappointing not to be within a shot after making the turn. But they (Corfee and Raber) found their rhythm and played well. They’re not just good players, they’re good guys. They deserved to win.”
Cohn and Moore, who won the recent NCGA Public Links Championship, did their best to try to make things interesting. The duo started their round by going 4-under through seven, but from there they’d tack on only two more birdies, posting a bogey-free 66 to come finish T-2 at 202.
“When we got to 4-under through seven, we thought we’d be able to keep it going,” Cohn said. “It didn’t happen for us on the back-nine.”
Also finding Corfee and Raber’s three-shot lead insurmountable was the tandem of Anthony and Haag. The two rang up eight birdies en route to a day-low, bogey-free 64 and were temporarily the leaders in the clubhouse before also finishing T-2.
With a win, Haag, would’ve won a record fifth Four-Ball title. The six-time NCGA Player of the Year, has won four previous titles, two each with different partners (Darryl Donovan and Bob Blomberg).
Two-time defending champions Danny Paniccia and Mike Stieler, who were looking to become the first team to win three titles and three in a row, slipped to T-12 after a 72. The two had entered the final round four behind Corfee and Raber.
“The last two days we just missed everything,” said Stieler, who was also battling a bum right knee. “We had a good run. We’ll go for it again next year.”
Joining Ledzinki and Britton at T-4 was the tandem of 2005 champions Rick Reinsberg and St. Mary’s head coach Scott Hardy, who had a final round 67.The teams of Vernon McCalla Jr. and Tyler Archer and 2012 champs Russell Humphrey and James Watt finished T-6 at 206.
Raber and Corfee played perfectly as a pair. Over their last 36 holes, they’d go 15-under with just one bogey. Their 15 birdies during the span were nearly split in half, with Corfee getting one more.
The two estimated that Raber missed only five fairways over their 54 holes.“I just tried to be straight and then let Ben, who’s longer off the tee, bomb away,” Raber said. “We both just really played well.”
Well enough to sniff the 54-hole championship record score of 197, set in 2003 by Todd Barsotti and Jeff Wilson and matched in 2004 by Jason Boyd and Scott Gordon.
View results for NCGA Four-Ball