Bobby Bucey (Northern California Golf Association Photo)
Sweet redemption, and one for the old guys, too.
A year after a runner-up loss at the 2022 NCGA Amateur that continuously gnawed at him, Concord resident Bobby Bucey can finally truly smile again.
On Friday at Spyglass Hill, Bucey got to hoist the NCGA Amateur Trophy, defeating runner-up Davis McDowell, 5 and 4, in the 36-hole final.
"I finally climbed the mountain," said a teary-eyed Bucey, a member at Oakhurst CC. "I knew I was ready for this moment."
For the 34-year-old Bucey, who becomes the oldest champion since Darryl Donovan in 1999, the win marked his 7th career title. Other victories are two Mid-Amateur Four-Ball titles, one Stroke Play, one Mid-Am, one Four-Ball and one California Amateur. He joins a group of only five players (Casey Boyns, Randy Haag, Nick Randazzo, Tal Smith and Scott Hardy) with seven or more NCGA titles.
"It means so much to me to have my name up there with those guys. Growing up, I remember playing in the Amateur at Spyglass with guys like Casey, Randy and Scott. I was starstruck playing with them," Bucey said. "I believed that one day I would be as good as them. That belief became one win, and then it just kept growing."
Having carved out a 3-up lead through the morning 18 round, Bucey upped the lead to 4-up to on the 20th hole when McDowell made a bogey.
A red-shirt junior at UC San Diego and a semifinalist at the 2023 California Amateur at Lake Merced, McDowell managed to cut the lead back to 2-up with birdies on holes Nos. 25 and 27.
But on the 30th hole (par-3 12th), Bucey came storming back. He'd hit an 8-iron to within inches of the cup, while McDowell's tee shot landed in the pond. A hole later, McDowell found the fairway bunker, leading to a bogey and a Bucey 4-up lead.
On the penultimate 32nd hole, Bucey got on in two, striping a 4-hybrid from 220 yards out to within 12 feet of the flagstick. McDowell's second sailed far right, into the beyond the cart path. A drop later, McDowell's fourth shot went into the pond, sealing the victory for Bucey.
"I still probably had the best golf week of my life," said McDowell afterward. "Playing with these guys, and playing Spyglass, which is a perfect match play course. I've got a lot of good things to build off of as I head into the college season."
The 2022 loss had stung Bucey so deeply that his father and caddie, Bob, said that Bobby had told him, "I'll never get that close again."
The experience still fresh in his mind, Bobby said he wasn't going to go down that same path again.
"On the second 18, I did start getting nervous. You get so close to a goal. My stomach was in knots," Bucey said. "But I also told myself to just stick with the process. I knew I was so close to a lifelong dream of holding that trophy."
ABOUT THE NCGA Match Play
The oldest of the NCGA’s major events, the Amateur
Match Play Championship, dates back to 1903 when
was first played at San Rafael GC. Varying formats
been used over the 100+ years of competition but
the tournament is 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying,
followed by a 32-person seeded match play bracket.
Pre-qualifying required for non-exempt players.
must have a handicap index of 5.4 or less.
View Complete Tournament Information