Robby Salomon defends Northern California Stroke Play title
Robby Salomon celebrates his second consecutive NCGA Stroke Play title <br>(NCGA Photo)</br>
Robby Salomon celebrates his second consecutive NCGA Stroke Play title
(NCGA Photo)

PEBBLE BEACH, CA (July 9, 2016) --Coming off consecutive poor showings at the recent North and South Amateur and California Amateur Championships, Robby Salomon wasn’t exactly sure which direction his game was headed.

“I kind of let go of a lot of work instructors had me doing,” Salomon said. “I almost re-started golf. I was maybe focusing too much. I told myself to just go out and play.”

On Sunday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course, Salomon got everything back in order.

The 27-year-old former CSU-Monterey Bay standout first came from four strokes back with a clutch 3-under 68, and later defeated Ryan Knop on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win his second straight NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship title.

For Salomon, who joined Ben Geyer (2012-2013) as the only players to win back-to-back titles since the Stroke Play championship returned in 2004, the key to it all was his putter. Not only did the Marina resident use a new putter, but starting on the 13th hole in Saturday’s second round–when he was at 6-over– he switched from his normal claw grip to putting cross-handed. Through his final 24 holes of regulation, he’d go 6-under.

“I was putting so bad using the claw grip that I decided to switch. It made all the difference,” Salomon said. “Considering where I was, this was a huge win for me. It was not expected.”

While his 68 got him into a tie with Knop, it was on the first playoff hole (No.1) that Salomon’s putter came up huge. After missing the green in regulation, Salomon found himself staring at a tricky 7-footer for par to halve the hole with Knop. His putt fell straight into the cup.

“He made a great putt there,” Knop said. “That was a big one.”

Having survived, on the second hole (No.2) Salomon hit a nearly perfect 7-iron to within 13-feet of the flagstick. He’d two-putt for par, while Knop, who saw his tee shot settle in the bottom-right portion of the green, missed his first two attempts.

“That tee shot on No.2, I hit where I wanted to. I hit a lot of shots that weren’t perfect, but they worked out,” Salomon.

Earlier in the day, Salomon, who plans to turn professional in the fall, saw an eagle putt on the par-5 9th just miss. He’d reached the green in two when his second shot bounced out of the hazard and onto the green. On the finishing 18th, he had another eagle putt to take the outright lead, but again his ball skimmed past the cup.

“I knew where I stood and how big the 18th was. I really wanted an eagle there,” said Salomon, who’d settle for a birdie and three-day total of even-par 213.

With Salomon–who was playing three groups ahead of the leaders–in the clubhouse all eyes turned to Knop and Hayden Shieh.

On the 17th, Knop made bogey to drop back to even-par, while Shieh sank a 25-foot birdie bomb to get to even-par. A hole later at the pivotal 18th, Knop had a 4-foot putt to win the title outright but missed. Shieh, on the other hand, had to settle for a bogey after missing his drive to the left, forcing a punch-out second shot.

“I just lipped it out,” said Knop of his attempt at the outright win. “You just don’t want a downhill, sliding putt ever.”

For Knop, a sophomore who will transfer from UC Davis to the University of Auburn this fall, the day was another tough lesson to swallow.

Following back-to-back birdies on holes No.3 and 4, he held what looked to be a commanding four shot lead over the field. Knop’s lead would dwindle to two following consecutive bogeys on the 7th and 8th holes, but he bounced back with back-to-birdies on the 11th and 12th to stay in the lead. Things would begin unraveling again when he double-bogeyed the par-4 14th after finding his ball not only in the fairway bunker, but also a greenside bunker.

In the final round of last year’s championship, Knop played in the last group with Salomon. He’d shoot a 77, while Salomon had a 68 to win by five.

In the final round of last year’s championship, Knop played in the last group with Salomon. He’d shoot a 77, while Salomon had a 68 to win by five.

Shieh, who also had his chances, shot 72 to finish T-3 with Perry Cohen at 214. Cohen, a junior at St. Mary’s, also could’ve joined the playoff but had to settle for a 71 after missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Ryan Gronlund, who had a 69, and defending NCGA Player of the Year Nick Moore (72), finished T-5 at 217. Miguel Delgado, who held a share of the second round lead with Knop, fell back to an 82 to finish T-17.

Results: NCGA Stroke Play
1CARobert SalomonPortola Valley, CA35073-72-68=213
2CARyan KnopPleasanton, CA23072-69-72=213
T5CARyan GronlundPleasanton, CA14076-72-69=217
T5CANick MooreSeaside, CA14071-74-72=217
T3SwitzerlandPerry CohenSwitzerland14071-72-71=214

View full results for NCGA Stroke Play


First played in 1944, the NCGA Stroke Play Championship has a special history, as the tournament has been won by the likes of Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller. The sterling silver perpetual trophy was donated by the San Francisco Examiner in 1944.

Championship play is 54 holes of stroke play (18 holes per day). After 36 holes the field will be cut to 40 players and ties. Pre-qualifying required for non- exempt players. Open to players with handicaps of 5.4 or lower.

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