Will Del Biaggio
(Bryant Athletics Photo)
SAN JOSE, Calif. (June 4, 2017) -- Will Del Biaggio is the champion of the 91st annual Ernie Pieper Santa Clara County Championship.
The San Jose Country Club member (and graduate of Bellarmine College prep) won a playoff for the title over Stanford golfer Chris Meyers. Both had finished tied at 2-over-par 212 on the short but challenging par-70 layout where leaving a putt above the cup is almost a sure 3-putt on many greens.
After a making three bogeys and a double-bogey (on the second hole) against 3-birdies through 14 holes, Del Biaggio recorded back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to get back to par on the day and assume the lead.
Bogeys on the last two holes resulted in the playoff situation, but no matter. Del Biaggio has the experience of winning a title in overtime, and his name is on one of the most historic trophies in California golf.
What the etching will never tell, as famed radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, is "The Rest of the Story."
After grabbing the lead with the second of two birdies on No. 16, Del Biaggio bogeyed the 17th, but still had a comfortable lead on his home course on a hole he knows well. Playing to a plateau fairway with barranca guarding against taking out driver, Del Biaggio did what he has done so many times before, he teed up a 3-iron to place it into the middle of the fairway. Then the unthinkable happened.
"In the middle of my downswing, the ball fell off the tee," explained Del Biaggio in a phone interview. "Fortunately it settled in front of the tee and I still made contact. But the ball duck hook left behind a tree.
I was dismayed, somewhat perplexed, but I gathered myself and punched out to the middle of the fairway."
A wedge to the green, and two-putts later, and he was tied with Meyers, the clubhouse leader who had also posted 2-over on the tournament.
Meyers, who hails from Oro Valley, Arizona, plays for Stanford. He fired 70 in the last round, coming from 2-shots back to make his way into the playoff.
Del Biaggio plays collegiately over 3000 miles away at Bryant College in Rhode Island. He made his way into the starting lineup of the Division I program in 2016-17 and proved he can "take his game on the road" with a win at the VGA/UConn Invitational in April where he posted a 3-round total of 213. (Very similar to the 212 he posted at San Jose Country Club this weekend.)
"I hadn't even heard of Bryant," said Del Biaggio. "i was introduced to the coach on a college visit trip and really like it there."
If you see Will Del Biaggio taking a little more time than most players when teeing up the ball, you'll know why. And now you know, the rest of the story.
Northern California senior stalwart Jim Knoll is now three-time winner of the Santa Clara County. Knoll posted rounds of 71-71 to win by three strokes over San Jose CC member Mark Klemczak,
The pair were tied for the lead on 15 tee, giving Klemczak a real chance to make it a clean sweep in Championship and Senior divisions for San Jose Country Club (we're not sure that's ever happened). Knoll then did what he does best. He chipped in for birdie on No. 15, parred No. 16, then made a nice two-putt birdie on No. 17, and capped it off with an 8-footer at the last.
TOURNAMENT NOTES San Jose Country Club again partnered with The First Tee of Silicon Valley with the juniors being standard bearers for the final groups in the Championship and Senior Division.
ABOUT THE Santa Clara County
Wonder what it takes to get a tournament
named after you? The Santa Clara County
Championship couldn't very well be named
after anyone else than famed California
Pieper, who won the tournament 15 times in 6
different decades of his life from the teens
the 60's. Top that!
54-hole stroke play championship with a cut after 36
holes. 36 holes of stroke play for seniors and super
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