Thank you to Monarch Dunes professional Jon Strecher for the following report.
Riley Bell prevailed in extra holes at Monarch Dunes
The Eighth Annual Nipomo Amateur Championship was held January 5th and 6th, 2019 at Monarch Dunes Golf Course. The field consisted of 58 players in the Championship flight and 18 players in the Net Flight. This year the rain came back with a vengeance! Saturday’s round had to end early as the course became unplayable.
Well, unplayable for all except Brandon Gama and Eli Poppers. Gama and Poppers played on through the rain and heavily puddled greens and fairways. They were both all smiles when they came in saying “We were feeling like Francis Ouimet in The Greatest Game Ever Played”! Remarkably, after 36 holes, they both finished tied for 11th, one shot out of the money!
The weather improved on Sunday and by using an early shotgun start, everyone that continued play finished all 36 holes.
In the Net Flight Craig Nunes kept it steady with net rounds of 73 and 72, for a two day net total of 145 in the difficult conditions. One shot back was Orlando Gonzales with a two day net total of 148, followed by appliance man Dan Ruffoni with a two day net total of 149. Michael Hunstad finished fourth with a two day net total of 151, which he achieved by shooting net 71 on Sunday, the lowest net score in the flight either day.
The Championship flight players took on the course from the Black Tees and the course was playing extra long with consistent rain early Saturday, building to a day-ending downpour in the afternoon. By 11:00 Sunday all players had finally finished their first rounds. William Draper’s opening round of 70 was the only score under par for the first 18 holes. Ethan Ashbrook, a local high school player, shot an opening round of even par 71, followed by Riley Bell and Jack Avrit, who both shot 72.
Defending champion Jeff Carr shot a first round 77, seven shots back of the leader, which proved to be too big of a hill to climb to successfully defend his title.
Riley Bell matched his opening round score of 72 in round two, while Ethan Ashbrook came in with a 73 which tied the players for the lead with a two day total of 144. Last year’s runner up, and certainly a local favorite, Jack Avrit, played the final two holes of the tournament bogey, double bogey, to finish his second round at 73 just one shot out of the playoff.
Jack’s brother, Owen Avrit, shot the low second day score of 70. The only two under par rounds of the tournament were posted by Owen in the second round and William Draper in the first. Interestingly, and a bit unfortunately, both players shot 80 for their other 18 holes which put them in a tie for 7th at 150.
The sudden death playoff took four holes to determine a winner. Both Bell and Ashbrook played some amazing and gutsy shots in the first few holes. Most memorable were Bell’s 20-foot putt on 18 (the second playoff hole) and Ashbrook’s up and down from long right on 10 (the third playoff hole) to a downhill green and tight pin.
On the fourth playoff hole Ashbrook hit his towering tee shot with a slight fade around the trees, while Bell hit a 2 iron over the bunker on the right to a perfect position.Unfortunately for Ashbrook, his tee shot could not be found and the stroke-and-distance penalty turned out to be too costly and he wasn’t able to match Bell’s solid par to win. Both players performed beautifully for 40 holes and if not for the lost ball, we might still be out there trying to break the tie!
What a fun and exciting tournament with a strong field of collegiate and other top amateur players from all over California and surrounding states.
ABOUT THE Nipomo Men's Amateur
Word has spread beyond the Central Coast out
about the fantastic Monarch Dunes Golf Links.
And now this Damian Pascuzzo & Steve Pate
design, with it's links styling has a place on the
California tournament calendar.
36-hole stroke play championship has a
Championship flight for handicaps of 5 or below, plus
a Net flight for handicaps of 6-18. Entry fee covers
greens fees, range
balls, and lunch both days.
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