Family Affair: Daniel Connolly (c) with his parents Martin and Mary
PEBBLE BEACH, California (July 9, 2017) -- Daniel Connolly
is the wire-to-wire winner of the NCGA Stroke Play Championship, posting even par 71 for a tournament total of 5-under 208 and six stroke victory over Derek Ackerman
We've been following Connolly since the day he picked up one of his first "non-junior" amateur wins, right around the corner from Poppy Hills, at the AmateurGolf.com Christmas Classic. That day as a 16-year old high school golfer, he closed with a 65 at Del Monte.
Since then, the Olympic Club member has grown into a collegiate golfer at SMU, and picked up a memorable victory at the 2016 San Francisco City Championship, with seemingly every Irish golfer in the City cheering him on.
And like 2016 at Harding Park, today he had his father Martin on the bag, uttering calming advice like "let the swing go" or "totally commit" -- words that allowed Connolly to focus not on the lead, but the task at hand.
And while he didn't have the same size crowd following him today, Connolly did credit the presence of about eight Irish Olympic Club members -- who he saw following him after an early double on the third hole -- with calming him down and allowing him to stay focused.
Prior that brief blip on the radar screen, it was crystal clear who was in control of the tournament. Connolly was the only player under 70 in the first two rounds, allowing him to amass the 5-shot lead he took into the final round. And his mental approach to playing today's round should be a model for any player sleeping on a big lead.
"I think the biggest thing [today] was first trying to forget about the lead," said Connolly. "I convinced myself that I was two back, but at the same time ... you don't play defense.
It can get really easy to try and guard things or take different lines off the tee but the only thing that does is prevent you from winning."
One of the key holes of the day was the 16th, a difficult dogleg-right par four. He hit three wood off of the tee and hooked it into the fairway bunker. After taking a little too much sand on his second shot, he holed a 45-yard pitch shot for birdie.
The door might have crept an inch open, but Connolly shut it firmly, never to be opened again. His par-par finish ensured that.
"I've had a few past experiences being in the hunt, said Connolly, and that really helped. I really love this course, how fast and firm it is and the fact that you have to hit different shots."
Runner-up Derek Ackerman (Half Moon Bay) played very consistent golf in recording rounds of 72-71-71 to finish 1-over. Moving fast up the leaderboard thanks to a low round of the day tying 68 was mid-am Matt Cohn of E-Club San Francisco. He was third at 2-over.
Bradley Reeves (Woodbridge) and Anthony Madrid (playing out of AmateurGolf.com as his associate club) finished T4 at 3-over.
An Irish golfer, playing a fast and firm links course and winning a big NCGA event with his father carrying the bag and an Irish contingency in tow. This is starting to sound familiar.
ABOUT THE 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
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.
View Complete Tournament Information