Eddy Lai was among the top-seeded players to fall on Wednesday (NCGA photo)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 22, 2018) – The uncertainties of match play were on full display Wednesday at par-72 Spyglass Hill as both the Round of 32 and Round of 16 of this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship were held.
How much did the brackets get shaken up? All top four seeds—No.1 Blake Hathcoat, No. 2 Josh McCarthy, No. 3 Nick Moore and No. 4 Eddy Lai—all were sent home.
Hathcoat, who just a day before tied the NCGA record for lowest round shot by an individual at Spyglass Hill, was bounced in the Round of 32, falling 1-up to No. 32 seed Ned Jensen. Jensen earned his spot in the brackets in a playoff in the morning. It was the first time in recent history that a playoff to determine the final seeds was stretched to the next day due to darkness.
Jensen, the runner-up at this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship, wasn’t done busting the brackets. In his afternoon Round of 16 match, he’d eliminate No.16 Robert Hamilton, 3 and 2.
McCarthy, who was coming off a Round of 32 run at last week’s U.S. Amateur, got upended by No. 31 Thomas Hutchison, 2 and 1. In a duel between two former Junior Tour of Northern California Players of the Year, Hutchison, like Jensen a late playoff qualifier, grabbed a quick 3-up lead. McCarthy came back to close the deficit to one hole, but Hutchison, who plays at UC Davis, birdied the par-4 17th to close things out.
In his afternoon match against St. Mary’s Michael Slesinski, Hutchison again took a 3-up lead through 11 and held on from there.
The two other big upsets of the day came in the Round of 32. Moore, a winner at this year’s NCGA Stroke Play Championship, fell to No.14 seeded Kevin Huff, 5 and 4. A sophomore at Fresno State, Huff took advantage of a bad round from Moore, quickly building a 5-up through the first nine. Moore played the front-nine at 6-over.
Lai, who flirted with medalist honors and was runner-up in 2016 to winner Shintaro Ban, fell to Daniel Kim on the 19th hole when he made a bogey to Kim’s par (hole No. 10). Neither player held more than a 1-up lead throughout the match.
Tight wasn’t the way St. Mary’s freshman Ryan Grauman earned his ticket to the Round of 16. In his morning match, the No.9 seeded Grauman blitzed Ryan Waters, 8 and 7. In the afternoon, Grauman again was in form, as he’d earn a 3 and 1 victory over Sean Yu.
In another tight afternoon match, No. 5 Noah Woolsey, the highest seed left standing, defeated Ben Peters on the 19th hole.
Both No. 10 Austin Fox and No. 22 Matt Cohn each advanced with identical 2-and-1 victories in both of the day’s rounds.
Cohn reached the finals in 2015, where he fell to then No. 1 world ranked amateur Maverick McNealy.
Thursday’s quarterfinals action will see Jensen taking on Grauman, Kim facing Woolsey, Hutchison vs. Fox and Huff taking on Cohn.
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.
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