2020 California Amateur champion Joey Vrizch (SCGA)
For the first time in history, the California Amateur was contested at Torrey Pines this week. Today, the championship culminated with a 36-hole match play final won by Joey Vrzich of nearby El Cajon.
Vrzich was one of four Pepperdine Waves to advance to the round-pf-16 in match play -- not surprising given the Div. 1 golf team's No. 1 national ranking at the end of the shortened NCAA season.
When three of his teammates (Dylan Menante, Braden Fioroni, and Josh McCarthy) were eliminated on Thursday, Vrzich was left to represent the Waves (and keep the title won by a teammate last year), and boy did he ever.
With defending champ and fellow Wave William Mouw competing at the Western Amateur at Crooked Stick, Vrzich got down to business in today's final against Charlie Reiter of Palm Desert, and University of San Diego.
The pair traded off pars and birdies in the morning, with both posting sub-70 medal play equivalent scores at the tough Torrey Pines South Course, and Vrzich taking a narrow 1-up advantage to the lunch break after 18 holes.
In the afternoon, it looked like Vrzich would run away with it, taking the first hole with a par, the third with a birdie, and the cliffside fourth with a par.
But Reiter fought back, bringing things back within two holes after a birdie at No. 7, the hole where Tiger Woods famously defeated Rocco Mediate after their 18-hole sudden death round ended deadlocked at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Never giving up the 2-up advantage, Vrzich finally put the match dormie with a birdie on No. 15, the match's 33rd hole. He won it at the par-3 16th when both players made par.
Vrzich is exempt to play. in the U.S. Amateur at the end of the month at Bandon Dunes. He qualified and made match play at Riviera in 2018.
of Palm Desert and Joey Vrzich
of El Cajon are the last two men standing at the California Amateur Championship, and will play for the title on Saturday at Torrey Pines Golf Club.
Reiter, who transferred this year from USC to University of San Diego, and Vrzich of Pepperdine University, each won two matches on Friday to advance to the final match.
Reiter defeated Kevin Tassistro 4&3 and Chase Sienkiewicz 2&1, while Vrzich took out Alexander Chin 5&3 and Caleb Shetler 4&3.
Vrzich will attempt to become the second-straight Pepperdine Wave to win the state championship. He would succeed William Mouw who opted to play in the Western Amateur this week instead of defending.
It was a tough day for the Pepperdine Waves, as three of the four golfers on the top-ranked golf team got knocked out of the California Amateur bracket at Torrey Pines.
In one of the biggest upsets of the first round of match play, Josh McCarthy
lost to Sam Sommerhauser
. McCarthy has been ranked inside the top-50 in the world (he's currently No. 170). Sommerhauser is a 17-year-old senior at Whitney High in Rocklin and member of The First Tee of Greater Sacramento.
Last year, Sommerhauser qualified for the Pure Insurance First Tee Open and won the boys title paired with champion Kirk Triplett. Triplett liked what he saw.
“What didn’t impress me about Sam?,” replied Triplett when asked by about his partner at the time. “He’s a fabulous player with a fabulous swing. He’s also got tremendous poise and has the ability to bounce back.”
Those are the qualities that allowed Sommerhauser to come back from 2-down after 10 holes, winning the tough par-3 11th with a par, and the par-5 13th with a birdie, before making eagle on the par-4 14th -- where the front tee location allowed players to have a go at the green.
A birdie at No. 17 was the difference for Sommerhauser, in what would be one of the tightest matches of the day he won 1-up. That's the same margin that Harrison Kingsley
needed to defeat Pepperdine Wave Caden Fioroni
of San Diego. Dylan Menante
of Carlsbad, the third Wave to go out in the first round, lost to Alexander Chin
of Pleasanton. Chin, a senior at University of San Francisco, took control with a run of three-straight birdies on Holes 8-10, winning all three.
While three of the four Pepperdine Waves lost their matches today, University of Arizona went two-for-three. Sommerhauser is an incoming freshman with the Wildcats, will face his future teammate, UA sophomore Chase Sienkiewicz
, tomorrow in the quarterfinals at 6:54 am. The two players live less than 20 miles from each other in the Sacramento area. Their teammate Brad Reeves
lost to the lone surviving Wave Joey Vrzich
1-down. But two-for-three isn't bad. As they say in Tucson, Bear Down!
Two golfers who won nail-biters against favorites in the first round had much less trouble advancing today.
of Palm Desert, who transferred this year from USC to University of San Diego, defeated 2018 U.S. Amateur runner-up Devon Bling
in the first round, 2-and-1. Today, he only needed 15-holes to get past Cal State San Marcos golfer Ryan Bisharat
Even more dominating today was Kevin Tassistro
of San Marcos.
The director of wedge development at Vokey can grind 'em, and use them as well. It took him 20 holes to defeat medalist Stephen Hale
yesterday, but the 38-year-old can rest his body a bit after only 13 holes to defeat Will Draper
of Oak Park.
“Once you get into match play, anybody can win,” Tassistro, who grew up in Chicago, told Don Norcross of the San Diego Union Tribune.
Tassistro played collegiately at Wisconsin and twice qualified for the U.S. Amateur -- and you don't have to look very far back to see the last time he did so. In 2018, he was among the field at Pebble Beach.
After two one round days, tomorrow's play will consist of two rounds, the quarter- and semifinals.
STROKE PLAY QUALIFYING SUMMARY
When the collegiate golf season came to an abrupt halt along with the rest of spring sports and college, the Pepperdine Waves were ranked No. 1
Today at the California Amateur at Torrey Pines, it's apparent that the surfing is still pretty good -- four of them advanced to match play a little more than 100 miles South of their college campus in Malibu.
, Dylan Menante
, Caden Fioroni
, and Joey Vrzich
all advanced through the round-of-32 and will play tomorrow in the round-of-16. But as it works out, none of them has to play a teammate. That same thing won't be true in the quarterfinals if they are successful in their matches tomorrow.
There might have been five had the 2019 champion William Mouw
opted to defend his title this week. Instead, he traveled to play in the Western Amateur, and after two rounds is in good position to make the "Sweet 16" for match play.
The stroke play medalist, Stephen Hale
of Bakersfield, was knocked out by Titleist wedge designer Kevin Tassistro
, who made match play on the number but outlasted Hale in 20 hard-fought holes.
Torrey Pines South, playing at 7800 yards, is a formidable opponent for all players -- it's the longest layout in California Amateur history. But the fairways are fast and firm, so if a long hitter has his a good driving day, there are still birdies to be made, especially on the par-5s.
After Thursday's matches, eight players will advance to Friday, when two rounds of matches will be played to determine the two finalists who will battle for the championship on Saturday.