Throughout the week, 22-year-old Pleasanton resident Noah Woolsey
kept telling himself to believe. By the time it was over, it happened.
A senior at the University of Washington, Woolsey erased an early 3-hole deficit and came storming back to win the 110th California Amateur Championship over Wes Payne
, 2 and 1, on a hot Saturday at The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel Valley.
Woolsey, who joins a list of California Amateur champions that includes Johnny Miller, Mark O’Meara and two-time winner Bobby Clampett, hadn’t won an event since 2019. Clampett, who grew up in Carmel Valley, was among the spectators taking in the action.
A day after earning a spot in the 36-final via a gritty semifinals win on the 21st hole, Woolsey would quickly find himself down three holes after he opened the morning 18 holes with three consecutive bogeys. He’d twice cut the lead back to 1-up, but entered the break down three when Payne responded with a pair of birdies of his own on holes Nos. 16 and 17.
It was time again to just believe.
“My parents and others gave me a lot of encouragement, and I knew there was still a lot of golf left,” said Woolsey, a former member of the Junior Tour of Northern California. “I reminded myself that I had come back in the semifinals and won. So why couldn’t I do that again?”
The two players halved the first four holes after the break and then Woolsey made his move, winning three holes in succession – two with birdies – to draw even. He kept his foot on the accelerator with wins on three of the next seven holes to take a 3-up lead heading to the 33rd hole.
Payne kept his hopes alive by taking the next two holes before Woolsey closed the match on the 35th hole, winning the coveted title 2 and 1.
“The whole week, I was just walking down the fairway telling myself, ‘You can do this’, over and over and over. It kind of calmed me down.” said Woolsey, who was rooted on by among others his mom, Miegen, and dad, Phil. “It’s pretty crazy. I had a former California Amateur champ walking down the fairway with me. Just an incredible week.”
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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