California amateur: staple breakers
It wasn’t long before the braces were broken at the annual California Amateur Championship at The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel Valley.
In the first round of the last 32 on Wednesday it was ironically number 32 seeded Tommy Stephenson who created the big surprise and sent medalist and number 1 seed Christian Banke home with a convincing 5 and 4 win.
Banke, who completed consecutive course record laps (64, then 63) during stroke play qualifying, was given a dose of his own medicine. Stephenson, a junior at Fresno State hailing from Carlsbad, jumped to a quick 4-up lead by nine thanks to a front nine score of 30, including six birdies. After Banke lost the 10th hole to a Stephenson par to drop 5, Banke recovered briefly with a win on the 11th Another birdie to seal the win.
Breaking the Banke: Tommy Stephenson defeated Christian Banke in today’s round of 32 at the California Amateur at The Preserve GC. Other top seeds, including Noah Woolsey, are in the round of 16 https://t.co/7ti4ccYpWC pic.twitter.com/aw1PGgTSm0
– NCGA (@ ncga1901) June 23, 2021 Each of the other top 4 seeds reached the round of 16, which will be played on Thursday. Number 2 seeded Noah Woolsey, who played at the University of Washington last season, moved on with a 3 and 2 win over number 31 Finigan Tilly. Tilly, like Woolsey a former Junior Tour of Northern California member, took an early lead with a win on the fourth hole. But Woolsey shrugged that off and won holes 6 through 8 in turn to take a 2-up lead. After making the turn, Woolsey won 10th place with a birdie and 11th place with par to give himself a confident 5-up lead.
Number 3 seeded Connor Nolan moved on with a 2 and 1 win, as did number 4 seed Wes Payne, runner-up in last year’s NCGA Amateur Championship.
Concord resident Bobby Bucey, seeded number 11 and winner of the event in 2018, won a first round win and knocked off Michael Slesinski with number 22.
There will be a number of interesting games in Thursday’s round of 16, including Stephenson versus Alex Chin. Chin, who plays at the University of San Francisco, was named NCGA Player of the Year in 2020. Woolsey meets Matt Cohn, a multiple NCGA champion whose résumé includes wins at the 2016 and 2019 Public Links Championships. Bucey meets Thomas Hutchison, winner of the 2018 NCGA Amateur.
Quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played on Friday. The game on Saturday will be the 36-hole final.
Showing results for California Amateur
ABOUT THE California amateur
The championship is open to amateur golfers who have a current index of 4.4 and are full members of the Southern California Golf Association, the Northern California Golf Association, or the Public Links Golf Association of Southern California. Non-exempt players must qualify. An entrant may only participate in one qualifying tournament, even if the participant is a member of golf clubs in Southern California and Northern California. The 18-hole qualification rounds determine the qualification.
The championship field will play 36 qualifying holes in one location in Northern or Southern California, with the bottom 32 golfers moving from that combined field to match play (with a playoff if necessary to determine the final places). Two rounds of 18-hole match play follow on Thursday and Friday and the 36-hole final on Saturday.
The location will switch between locations in Northern and Southern California annually.
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