Daniel Connolly (left) and Nick Randazzo
San Francisco resident Daniel Connolly made his NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship debut one to remember.
Connolly, 25, held off a slew of NCGA veterans and defeated Nick Randazzo (Moore) on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the annual NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship at par-71 Poppy Hills. The title marked Connolly's third NCGA crown.
"This is awesome. Any time you can win it's amazing," said Connolly, who works in finance in The City.
As he walked to his second shot on the 18th hole in regulation, Connolly had no idea where he stood, and he didn't want to know. Coming off a bogey on the par-3 17th, he was tied with Randazzo at a total of 7-under 135.
It was then that his father and caddie, Martin, gave him a subtle hint of how things stood. "I finally asked my dad what the leaderboard looked like and he told me, 'It'd be a nice time for a birdie.' I had been thinking a par would be enough."
Connolly did have to settle for par after his birdie putt missed, but he'd get another chance. On the first playoff hole (par-4 1st), Moore got a horrible break when his ball plugged in the fairway bunker. He'd have to punch and nearly holed out his third shot, but had to eventually settle for a bogey. Connolly, meanwhile, missed the green short but managed to get up and down for par and the win.
'I was fortunate to get it done in the playoff," said Connolly, who carded a final round 66.
For Randazzo, it was a lost opportunity to edge a bit closer to NCGA Hall of Famers Casey Boyns and Randy Haag on the all-time NCGA win list. Randazzo is at 11, with both Boyns and Haag at 16.
"I'm pleased with how I played," said the 41-year-old Randazzo, who legally changed his name in honor of his late grandfather. "I've had my share of good breaks and also my share of bad breaks. I'll just look to the positives. I'm happy for Daniel."
Along with getting by Randazzo, Connolly at one time or another was trying to hold off 2020 NCGA Amateur runner-up Was Payne, veteran Jerry Ledzinksi and multiple NCGA champion Bobby Bucey.
"I felt like I did a good job of just staying in the moment," Connolly said. "I knew coming into the day that I would have to go out and win it."
Randazzo made a charge with a tourney-low 65. Payne took third at 138.
ABOUT THE NCGA Mid-Amateur
The NCGA Mid-Amateur Championship began in
as the Master Division Championship, a competitive
opportunity for players aged 40-54 who were not
eligible for senior tournaments. In 2016, the event
was re-named the Mid-Amateur Championship,
opening up to all players aged 25 and over, with no
upper age restriction. The champagne bucket trophy
was donated by two-time California State Amateur
champion Ernie Pieper.
36 hole stroke play championship with pre-qualifying
required for non-exempt players. Max handicap 5.4.
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