Jason Anthony (NCGA)
Nabbing a win is always an emotional roller coaster. The ups and downs over the course of 18 holes can wreak havoc on a player’s psyche no matter how big or small their lead is.
In his first tournament since February, Jason Anthony had plenty of pressure as he stood on the 18th tee of the NCGA Valley Amateur at Schaffer’s Mill Club. Knowing he needed a birdie on the 605-yard par-5 closing hole, Anthony bombed his driver down the fairway, leaving 260-yards into the green.
Pulling 4-iron, Anthony knew where not to miss; right. After missing right and coming away with a bogey on the par-5 14th, Anthony calmed himself as much as possible but pulled the long-iron a bit to the left and 20-yards longer than he would have liked. Citing adrenaline as to why he crushed his 4-iron pin-high, leaving a difficult 20-yard up-and-down Anthony was able to not only execute his third shot but almost call ‘game’.
Having to get over a bunker and stop his ball on a green running away from him into a greenside water hazard all while having the championship on the line, Anthony opted for a play that would have made Phil Mickelson smile had he seen the shot in person; a flop shot.
Flying it perfectly, Anthony’s ball settled four feet from the hole for a near-gimmie birdie.
“It was the best chip shot I’ve ever hit,” Anthony told AmateurGolf.com. “I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to get my first win as a dad with my little son there and my wife as well.”
He might not have had that moment had it not been for an eagle on the par-5 8th in Monday’s first round. Coming off a double-bogey on the par-3 7th to go 2-over for the tournament, Anthony regrouped.
“It turned everything around,” he said.
Hitting his second shot to 25-feet, Anthony knocked home the big bird to get himself back to even-par before closing out the first round with a 4-under back-side, a score he would battle to keep on Tuesday.
“Today [Tuesday] was a struggle,” Anthony said. “It was hard to get any momentum positively. I made two or three really dumb mental errors because I haven’t been playing much because I just had a baby that’s four months old.”
Thanks to Nick Moore, a close friend of Anthony’s, shooting himself out of contention, Moore was able to help keep Anthony calm and in the moment despite neither having their ‘A-game’.
“Nick’s one of my best friends in the golf community,” said Anthony. “He’s just the most even-keel guy. He’s a great influence when you’re trying to get it done under the gun even though he wasn’t playing well.”
Moore was tied for second with Anthony heading into the final round but was unable to carry over any momentum as he carded a final round 77 to finish in a tie for 9th at 2-over-par.
After clinching the championship, Anthony was more emotional than he expected to be with his wife Natashia and newborn son Jackson in attendance.
“I was actually surprisingly very, very emotional,” he said. “I almost teared up a little bit when I made the putt. I just love competing and then to have him there, my wife there and get the job done, it was a cool moment. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way.”
In the senior division, Jeff Wilson turned around his opening 1-over 72 with a final round 66 that was capped off with birdies on four of his final six holes. Overnight leader Mark Morgan could not keep pace with Wilson as he could only muster four birdies en route to a 3-under 68, one shot shy of Wilson's pace.
ABOUT THE NCGA Valley Amateur
Played for the first time in 2004 as a replacement
the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley
championships, the NCGA Valley Amateur has
become a staple in the tournament season. The 36-
stroke play event is played at a venue in the San
Joaquin or Sacramento valley each year and
a top-level championship opportunity. Open to
players with a handicap index of 5.4 or less, and
with a 7.4 handicap index or less.
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