William Mouw (NCGA photo)
The eagles landed and what had looked to literally become a massive Wave came to an end.
William Mouw, a freshman to be at Pepperdine, and San Diego State senior Christian Banke each closed out semifinals victories with closing eagles on the par-5 18th on the Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on Friday to advance to the finals of this week’s annual California Amateur Championship.
Mouw, the No. 24 seed, survived a seesaw match against No.5 Caden Fiorino, escaping with a 1-up victory after a brilliant second shot on 18. With the match still tied, Mouw, from 231 yards out, and with a tree directly in his sights, laced a 5-iron–that first curled 25 feet around the tree–to the top of the hill on the right side of the green. His ball would eventually roll onto the green, stopping 10 feet from the flagstick.
Fiorino, who’ll join the Waves squad in the Fall of 2020, found the greenside bunker with his second shot. Fiorino hit his buinker shot to within 8 feet of the pin, but Mouw ended any drama by sinking his slippery, downhill putt. When his putt dropped in, Mouw let loose a Tiger-esque fist pump.
“That putt was sweet. The speed was perfect, everything about it was perfect,” Mouw said. “It means al lot to me to get a chance to win this.”
Firoroni, who was runner-up at the recent CIF Boys’ State Championship at Poppy Hills, was in control early, grabbing a 2-up lead through the first nine. But Mouw clawed his way back. He’d save par and tie the hole on No.12 following a great up and down. On the par-5 13th he reached the green in two and won with a birdie. After draining a 35-footer for birdie on the majestic par-3 14th, the match was again tied.
“Even when I was two down, I knew I could come back,” said Mouw, who is a great basketball player as well (he set the record at Ontario Christian for most career 3-pointers).
“After he made that putt on No.14 he got some spring back in his step,” said Mouw’s father, Billy, who was on the bag as caddie. “This has been so much fun. I haven’t caddied for him since his first tourney when he was 10 years old.”
Banke, meanwhile, also came back to earn a coveted spot in the final.
Playing good friend Josh McCarthy, the No.3 seeded Banke found himself down two holes after a bogey on the par-3 10th. Like Mouw, he also didn’t panic.
“I just thought, keep hitting fairways and apply as much pressure as I can,” said Banke, who also had his father, Dana, on the bag as caddie.
Instead, the 22-year-old Danville native reeled off three straight wins on holes No.11 through 13 to take a 1-up lead. McCarthy, a senior to be at Pepperdine, got a hole back with a par win on the 14th, but on the 316-yard par-4 16th Banke again took the lead when he drove the green and two-putted from 50 feet for a birdie.
After a tie on the 17th hole, Banke, still holding a 1-up edge, went driver-6-iron to within 4 feet of the pin on the closing 18th. McCarthy, needing a miracle, nearly got one as his third shot–a pitch–got within a foot of the pin before stopping.
“It’s always tough playing against a friend,” Banke said. “Plus, Josh is a crazy competitor. I knew it’d be tough.”
In the morning quarterfinals, McCarthy had staged an epic comeback, erasing a 3-hole deficit and eventually winning on the 21st hole via his own eagle on the 18th. Banke, meanwhile, eliminated Devon Bling, 2 and 1.
Both Banke and Mouw are only making their second appearance in the event.
In the morning quarterfinals, Mouw knocked out No.32 Ramiz Jamal, 5 and 3, while Firorino won 1-up over No.4 Cameron Sisk.
Past champions of the event is a who’s who of Golden State greats—Ken Venturi (1956), Johnny Miller (1968) and Bobby Clampett (1978).
Saturday’s 36-hole final will begin at 7:30 a.m.
ABOUT THE California Amateur
The Championship is open to amateur golfers
who have established current indexes of 4.4
and are members in good standing of the
Southern California Golf Association, the
Northern California Golf Association, or the
Public Links Golf Association of Southern
California. Nonexempt players must qualify. An
entrant may play in only one qualifying event,
belongs to clubs in both Southern California
and Northern California. The 18-hole
rounds will determine the qualifiers.
The championship field will play 36 holes of
qualifying at a Northern or Southern California
Location, with the low 32 golfers from that
combined field moving on to match play (with
playoff, if necessary, to determine the final
Two rounds each of 18-hole match play will
follow on Thursday and Friday and the 36-hole
final match will be on Saturday.
The location will rotate yearly between
Northern and Southern California locations.
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