2016 champion Shintaro Ban [left]
with 2017 winner and fellow WCAL product Isaiah Salinda
(photo courtesy of NCGA)
PEBBLE BEACH, California (August 18, 2017) -- As he scanned the names on the sterling silver trophy, Stanford junior Isaiah Salinda
slowly began shaking his head in realizing what he’d accomplished.
“There’s a lot of history on here,” Salinda said. “It’s awesome. It’s an honor.”
The 20-year-old South San Francisco resident will be the latest to his name engraved on the trophy—joining the likes of Charlie Seaver, Lawson Little, Jr, and Roger Maltbie—following a dramatic 1 up victory over friend and defending champion Shintaro Ban
in Friday’s 36-hole final of the 2017 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill.
Related: Ban and Salinda Advance to NCGA Match Play Final
Ban, a senior at UNLV, had been looking to become the first repeat champion since John Catlin in 2010-2011.
It’s the second time in three years that a Cardinal has won the title. In 2015, former teammate Maverick McNealy
won the crown. On Thursday evening, McNealy texted Salinda to give his encouragement.
“He basically told me to get the job done,” Salinda said. “He said to stay patient. But also if I got up, to stay aggressive.”
All square following the morning 18 holes, Salinda began setting the pace when he birdied the 21st hole to take a 1-up lead. Another birdie on the 23rd hole and a par win later on the 31st thanks to a brilliant sand save, and Salinda looked to be in command with a 3 up lead with only five holes left to play. But then match play—and a suddenly rejuvenated Ban—happened.
On the 32nd hole, Salinda three-putted, cutting his lead to two holes. A hole later, Ban drained an 8-foot birdie putt to pull within one. Then, on the 34th hole, Ban stuck his approach shot to within a foot of the flagstick for another birdie. The 3 up lead had vanished.
“I knew Shintaro would come back strong,” said Salinda, who competed against Ban in high school when the two played in the West Catholic Athletic League. “I just refocused and regrouped.”
On the 35th hole, Salinda indeed got back into rhythm, nearly holing out for an eagle. But Ban matched his birdie, sending the match to the 36th hole.
There, Ban pushed his drive right, with his ball eventually stopping on the cart path—directly behind a pine tree. Salinda, meanwhile, was smack dab in the middle of the fairway. After taking relief, the best Ban could do was hit his approach into the front-left greenside bunker. Salinda, meanwhile, knocked his approach to within 8 feet.
“When I saw where my ball was, I thought just scramble for par,” Ban said. “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
Indeed, Ban put his third shot on the green to within 22 feet of the pin. Still alive, his par putt went dead center at the cup—only to hit the back of the cup and bounce out. Salinda went on two-putt for the victory.
“That putt almost went in. But he won fair and square,” said Ban, who a week earlier lost by a stroke at the Canadian Amateur. “It was a privilege. Isaiah is a great player and a good friend. I’m happy for him.”
As for Salinda, he had expected Ban’s putt to fall in. “In match play, you always have to expect your opponent to make it,” Salinda said. “After he did miss, I knew I just had to two-putt.”
Along with getting support from McNealy and other Cardinal teammates via texts, Salinda also got in-person help from his caddie, teammate Chris Meyers
. Meyers’ father, Dan, is a member of the Spyglass Founders Club.
“Chris was a huge help,” Salinda said. “He kept me loose. Overall, it was a very intense match. I just stayed patient.”
ABOUT THE NCGA Match Play
The oldest of the NCGA’s major events, the Amateur
Match Play Championship, dates back to 1903 when
was first played at San Rafael GC. Varying formats
been used over the 100+ years of competition but
the tournament is 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying,
followed by a 32-person seeded match play bracket.
Pre-qualifying required for non-exempt players.
must have a handicap index of 5.4 or less.
View Complete Tournament Information