Josh McCarthy (NCGA photo)
The match play brackets opened Wednesday for this week’s annual NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill. Some probably wish they hadn’t.
No.1 seed Joshua McCarthy and No.3 seed Brian Ma managed to escape, but a ton of other high seeds weren’t able to.
A senior at Peppedine University, McCarthy eked out a 19th hole win in the Round of 16 to keep his hopes alive. The former Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year will next take on No.9 seed Ian Dahl, who punched his ticket to Thursday’s quarterfinals via a 2 and 1 win over No.8 seed Gabriel Arcoleo. Dahl back in July picked up his first NCGA title at the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills.
For McCarthy, the big difference was a birdie on the first extra hole (the par-5 1st). Earlier in the round, McCarthy had bogeyed the hole.
Ma, who won the 2017 San Francisco City at the age of 16 and now plays at Harvard, cruised into the quarterfinals after dispatching No.19 Bryce Kvick, 6 and 5. In his Round of 32 match in the morning, Ma won 4 and 2 over Christopher Boyns, the son of NCGA Hall of Famer Casey Boyns.
Ma will next take on No.6 Toby Briggs, who advanced into the quarterfinals via a convincing 5 and 4 victory over No.11 Ashkaan Hakim. Originally from England, Briggs, a junior at the University of San Francisco, built a 4-up advantage through the first nine and never looked back.
The biggest Round of 16 win came from one of the youngest players left in the brackets. Ben Soicher, a junior at Tamalpais High, followed up an opening 3 and 2 upset win over No.5 Jason Anthony with a 7 and 6 thrashing of No.12 Drake Mendenhall. In the win over Mendenhall, Soicher was a buzzsaw, going 4-under through the 12 holes with a bogey.
Another JTNC product, Soicher will next take on No.13 Chase Sienkiewicz. A long-hitting freshman at University of Arizona, Sienkiewicz was the grinder of the day, pulling out a pair of 1-up victories.
The other quartersfinals match will see No.31 Kevin Fryer taking on No.26 Nicholas Caputo. Fryer opened play by defeating No.2 seed Matt Cohn, 1-up, thanks to a bogey-win on the 17th. The two would tie the 18th with birdies. In the afternoon, Fryer, cruised past Hayden Hui, 6 and 4.
Caputo, a senior at Chico State, opened with a 3 and 2 upset win over No.7 Nicklaus Rivera. He’d later defeat No.23 Domingo Jojola, 4 and 3.
No.4 seed Bradley Vu also got an early exit, falling in the Round of 32.
Notes: Each of the five past champions of the event have been collegiate players…Entering the event, Anthony led in the NCGA Player of the Year standings (1,581 points), with Cohn in second at 1,079, Christian Banke in third (919) and Dahl in fourth (803). The event is worth 700 points. With Anthony and Cohn out, and Banke not playing, Dahl will have a good shot at making a significant leap in the standings. The Player of the Year race ends at the end of September.
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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