Randy Haag wins third Stocker Cup
by Scott Seward, for

CARMEL, Calif. (October 30, 2011) - It's no surprise that the longevity and success of Randy Haag's amateur golf career is best measured by numbers. The San Franciscan has captured low amateur honors at the British Senior Open the last two years, has won six Northern California Golf Association player-of- the-year awards, and on Sunday became the first three-time champion of the prestigious Stocker Cup Invitational.

More numbers? How about finishing at nine under par for an eight-stroke win over a talented field chasing Golfweek/ World Rankings points, or being the only player to post four consecutive under-par rounds in a wire-to-wire win at the devilish and expansive Tom Fazio- designed Preserve GC?

"I thought time might have passed me by for this event," the champion said. "The field gets younger every year, and some great players come from all over the country. It's very meaningful for me to win this. You always want to compete against the best." Though his third overall win of the event, it was the first for Haag at the Preserve, where the event moved in 2000 after being contested at other Monterey Peninsula courses.

Haag's only enemy is perhaps fatigue. The 52-year-old concluded a seven-day stretch of competitive golf with the final round of the Stocker Cup, and is primed for a month away from the game in November. Haag's ball striking suffered at times over the weekend, but a hot putter allowed the Olympic Club member to post low scores. "My putter really bailed me out the last couple of days." Haag has putted side saddle since 1997, a technique that rejuvenated his game. "It's very different and hard to learn, but well worth it for me," he said.

It wouldn't have been the final round of the Stocker Cup without a charge from two- time defending champion Kevin Marsh of Henderson, Nevada. The 2005 U.S. Mid- Amateur champion started the day six strokes behind Haag (he was four behind the lead in 2010). But by the middle of the round the lead had been sliced in half, harkening to Marsh's Stocker Cup titles in 2009 and 2010, when he came from behind in the final round. But a costly bogey on 15, where he came up short to the treacherous front hole location, coupled with a Haag birdie on the 13th ended the defending champion's hopes of a three-peat. Haag posted a one-over 37 on the front nine - his worst performance on that nine by three strokes - and added a bogey on the 10th, but was able to close with three birdies in the last eight holes to slam the door on his pursuers. Haag had a one-stroke lead after the first round, and added to that lead after each round of the event.

Marsh would tie for second with Jerry Ledzinski of Carmel, Dan Sullivan of Pasadena (who had the low round of the day at two- under 70) and Billy Mitchell of Atlanta. Through a card-off, Ledzinski earned second place followed by Mitchell, Sullivan and Marsh.

The battle for the Tatum Trophy, for golfers aged 55 and older, was claimed by Brady Exber of Las Vegas, who claimed a share of the lead after the second round and never let go. The Southern Nevada Golf hall-of-famer cruised to a five-stroke win over Doug Pool, also of Las Vegas.

Tournament Notes

  • The 15th at the Preserve, an uphill 443- yard par 4, is well-known as the most difficult hole on the course. When combined with a front hole location on the severe back-to-front sloping green, the hole becomes a beast. Of the 22 players who took on the hole in the final round, there were eight bogeys, one double bogey, a quadruple bogey and even the dreaded "other," in this case a 9. Shots routinely backed up off the green leaving a difficult chip. Any shot holding the back of the green left a lightning-fast putt that was all but impossible to stop.

  • Haag has played in 18 Stocker Cups in his career, and now has three wins to go with six second-place finishes, an astonishing record given the strong field the event attracts.

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ABOUT THE Stocker Cup

The Stocker Cup was founded in 1991 to honor the memory of Peter Stocker. Peter and his partners Bill Harlan and John Montgomery founded San Francisco's Pacific Union Company, a highly successful real estate development company. The firm initiated the development of The Santa Lucia Preserve, a 20,000 acre residential and golf community located above Carmel. Meandering through the winding road to The Preserve's centerpiece -- the top-100 rated golf course -- has been described as "driving through a California postcard." The Stocker Cup was played from 1991 to 1999 at Pebble Beach and its surrounding golf courses, before moving to the Tom Fazio and Sandy Tatum designed Preserve G.C. In the words of former USGA President Tatum: "Peter Stocker was the quintessential amateur golfer. He loved golf with a passion. He would have loved this tournament."

54-hole individual competition with a simultaneous best-ball event, similar to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Invited Mid- Amateur players are either paired with a single digit amateur or can propose their own partner to be introduced and invited by the Committee. 

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