Eddy Lai (NCGA photo)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 20, 2018) – Eddy Lai
birdied two of his first three holes Monday at Spyglass Hill Golf course and never looked back. The UCLA sophomore played his way to the first-round lead at the NCGA Match Play Championship. After another round of stroke play, the 32-man match-play bracket will be set.
Spyglass Hill is a week removed from hosting the nation’s top amateurs in stroke-play qualifying for the U.S. Amateur. Lai’s teammate Devon Bling nearly won it all on Sunday, but finished runner-up to Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland.
Now Lai, a San Jose native whose home course is Olympic Club, has a shot at glory of his own. Lai had a 3-under 69 on Monday with nothing worse than a bogey on his card. Lai was the match-play runner-up at this event in 2016.
Lai is one shot ahead of Grant Johnson
and Blake Hathcoat
, who both finished the day with 2-under 70. Johnson, of Walnut Creek, Calif., will be a freshman at Gonzaga this fall. Hathcoat, of Fresno, Calif., will be a junior at St. Mary’s. Early this year, Hathcoat birdied his final six holes at the Saguaro Amateur and won in a playoff.
Robert Hamilton is solo fourth at 1 under, one shot ahead of a large group of players at even par.
The championship is missing a few of its familiar names this year. Shintaro Ban, the 2016 winner and last year’s runner-up, likely played his last amateur tournament last week at Pebble Beach. Defending champion Isaiah Salinda, about to return for his senior year at Stanford, is also missing from the field. Salinda advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur.
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