Michael Jensen is in position to repeat at the Stocker Cup in its 30th anniversary. (Conner Penfold/AmateurGolf.com)
This time last year, Michael Jensen
was wrapping up one of the biggest wins of his recently-revived amateur career. Meanwhile, Joe Neuheisel
was competing for Boise State University in his final year of eligibility.
On Saturday at The Preserve, the pair will find themselves going head-to-head in the final group at the 30th running of the Stocker Cup.
Jensen and Neuheisel fired identical first and second round scores, carding 67 and 68 to lead the 48-player mid-amateur invitational field heading to Saturday's conclusion. Jensen, of San Francisco, Calif., has eagled the par-5 8th twice to account of nearly half of his red figures. Neuheisel, of Scottsdale, Ariz., has not registered an eagle but put together a bogey-free round on Thursday during his first competitive appearance at The Preserve.
"You can get yourself on the wrong side of some holes here," Jensen said. "I just haven't put myself in bad positions yet and I've made a fair amount of putts."
"Kind of like last year," he added.
The comparisons continue, as Jensen also entered last year's final round with a share of the lead before going on to defeat Jason Anthony
in a sudden-death playoff.
While Anthony had nearly a decade of experience on Tom Fazio's heralded design spread across the Santa Lucia Preserve, Neuheisel provides new blood to the mid-amateur circuit.
The son of former college football coach and current CBS Sports analyst Rick Neuheisel, Joe turned 25 in January and got his freshly-labeled mid-amateur feet wet in June at Los Angeles Country Club. He tied for sixth at the George C. Thomas Invitational, where Jensen finished runner-up after falling in a playoff to Evan Beck
Joe Neuheisel teeing off at the par-4 16th during Friday's second round. (Conner Penfold/AmateurGolf.com)
"So far I've gotten to play LACC and The Preserve," Neuheisel said. "This is too good to be true."
Neuheisel's group had a fun moment Friday on the front side when Pau Gasol's 60-foot putt fell in for birdie. Where most would be content with a well-lagged two-putt, Gasol channeled 1990 Hale Irwin and joyfully jogged around the green with his putter raised in celebration.
"These two rounds I've been hitting the ball pretty well off the tee, so I've been in the fairway," Neuheisel said. "And once you're in the fairway, because of where they put these pins, then you get yourself into spots where you can for sure two-putt."
Sitting back in a tie for third place are Brian Blanchard
of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Geoff Gonzalez
of San Jose, Calif. Blanchard was hoping for redemption in the form of a final round pairing with Neuheisel. The pair endured a hard-fought 25-hole match during the round-of-16 in this summer's Arizona Amateur, which Neuheisel would go on to win.
Gonzalez's Friday 67, tied for low score of the day, puts him within striking distance in his first go-around at The Preserve.
ABOUT THE Stocker Cup
The Stocker Cup was founded in 1991 to
memory of Peter Stocker. Peter and his
Harlan and John Montgomery founded San
Pacific Union Company, a highly successful
development company. The firm initiated the
development of The Santa Lucia Preserve, a
acre residential and golf community located
Carmel. Meandering through the winding road
Preserve's centerpiece -- the top-100 rated
course -- has been described as "driving
through a California postcard." The Stocker
was played from 1991 to 1999 at Pebble
surrounding golf courses, before moving to
Fazio and Sandy Tatum designed Preserve
words of former USGA President Tatum:
Stocker was the quintessential amateur golfer.
loved golf with a passion. He would have
simultaneous best-ball event, similar to the
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Invited Mid-
players are either paired with a single digit
can propose their own partner to be
invited by the Committee.
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