Thomas Hutchison (NCGA photo)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2018) – Upon running into one another just prior to the quarterfinals, No. 32 seed Ned Jensen and No. 31 seed Thomas Hutchison half-joked how awesome it would be if they met in the finals of the annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship.
In a testament to the power and unpredictability of match play, it’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Jensen, a 25-year-old caddie at Cal Club and San Francisco GC, and Hutchison, an 18-year-old sophomore at UC Davis, each completed their run through the brackets Thursday at par-72 Spyglass Hill.
Jensen moved on via a tight, 1-up quarterfinal win over No. 9 Ryan Grauman and an even slimmer 20-hole victory over No. 20 Daniel Kim. Hutchison, meanwhile, waxed No. 10 Austin Fox, 7 and 6, before dispatching 2015 runner-up Matt Cohn, 4 and 3.
A former player at Lynchburg College in Virginia, Jensen has never won a competitive tournament. He’s a day away from claiming what is considered the NCGA’s grand-daddy of them all.
“It was just a battle getting into match play, so this feels great,” said Jensen, who was runner-up at this year’s NCGA Public Links Championship. “It’s huge for me. I’ve come so close and have worked hard this year trying to improve.”
Against Grauman, Jense trailed by three through just the first seven holes. He hung tough, bringing the match back to all-square with wins on hole Nos. 8, 12 and 13. A hole later on the 14th, he took his first lead when Grauman made bogey. Jensen cooly closed things out on the 18th with a clutch par that came despite having to just punch out after missing the fairway with his drive.
In his afternoon semifinals versus Kim, he’d come back from a two-hole deficit through eight. A run of playing holes 9 through 14 at 2-under got things back to even. Later, on the 17th Jensen took a 1-up lead with a par, but Kim, a freshman to be at UC Davis, came back with a clutch birdie on the 18th to force extra holes.
After halving the 19th hole (par-4 10th), on the 20th hole Kim found the greenside bunker on the left and flew his third shot past the flagstick. After Kim missed his par putt, Jensen calmly putted in for his par.
“My putter wasn’t really on in the afternoon. I missed a lot of putts down the stretch. But it all worked out,” Jensen said.
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