He has a prolific resume, including two SCGA Amateur Championships and a USGA Mid-Am Championship, but when Kevin Marsh claimed the 101st California Amateur Championship Saturday afternoon in his hometown of Santa Barbara, it quickly climbed towards the top of his list of memorable moments.
"I've been lucky enough to win a lot of golf tournaments, but this one is right up there as good as any of them," said Marsh, as he addressed a crowd of more than 100 people during the award ceremony.
Marsh defeated Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, Calif. 4 & 3 in the 36-hole final of the six-day tournament, winning his first state title. Marsh blazed the La Cumbre CC course with eight birdies and one eagle in 33 holes, while putting on a putting clinic for the gallery of almost 200 locals, who were dedicated to cheering on their hometown hero.
In that gallery was past champion John Pate, who while watching Marsh's performance, "I've played with a lot of pros, and the best putters I've ever seen are Loren Roberts, Tiger Woods and Kevin Marsh."
Marsh and Geyer battled it out through the first 18 holes, with Marsh flirting between a one and two stroke advantage for most of the initial round. Marsh extended that lead to 4 up through 25 holes, but Geyer, who had pulled out four come-from-behind victories already this week, cut the lead in half after hole 28. On the 31st hole of the match, however, with the advantage back to 3 up, Marsh made the shot of the tournament, draining a 40-ft breaking putt to basically put the match out of Geyer's reach. Two holes later, it was over.
"Kevin capitalized when he needed to," said Geyer. "It was a great learning experience. Obviously coming into today anything but a win would be disappointing, but Kevin played really well, and it was a great week."
Geyer and Marsh got to know each other pretty well earlier in the week, as the two were in the same pairing during the stroke play portion of the championship. The final match was extremely friendly, with the two competitors congratulating their opponent every chance they got.
Geyer didn't make it easy on himself Friday, going to extra holes in both his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, playing a combined 42 holes on the day. While he admitted his legs "weren't feeling great" today, he also said it didn't affect his game.
Marsh is the third-straight SCGA player to win the state title, and seventh in the past eight years. He is the first mid-amateur to win the California Amateur since 2005.
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A big thank you to Wayne Mills and his staff!
Kevin Marsh (pictured), 39, of Santa Barbara and Ben Geyer, 20, of Arbuckle survived two rounds of golf Friday at La Cumbre CC to advance to the finals of the California Amateur Championship. The 36-hole final will begin at 7:30 a.m.
Geyer, a student-athlete at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, will surely need his rest tonight, as it took him a combined 42 holes to to move on from Thursday's quarterfinal and semifinal action. He defeated Santa Barbara native Jack Perry in 19 holes Thursday evening to deprive the La Cumbre locals of a true hometown event. Despite leading 2 up after 16 holes, Geyer allowed Perry back into the match with a bogey on 17 and a par on 18. Geyer birdied the first playoff hole, however, to seal the deal.
Marsh, who himself has been no stranger to extra holes this week, had possibly his easiest match of the championship thus far with a 5 & 4 win over Ronnald Monaco of Rancho Cucamonga. Monaco had earlier in the day defeated medalist and defending champion Bhavik Patel in 19 holes.
Despite currently living in Henderson, Nev., Marsh is no stranger to La Cumbre, having grown up in Santa Barbara and frequenting the host club often. He will surely be a crowd favorite during the final tomorrow.
Marsh is a two-time winner of the SCGA Amateur Championship as well as the 2005 USGA Mid-Am Champion, but has never before won the California Amateur. He said earlier this week that winning the title at home would "be really special."
"I've never won this event, so to win it here would be great," he said.
Geyer, on the other hand, has much less tournament golf experience, but has put together an impressive week that includes three extra-hole victories, including one over another Santa Barbara native, Niall Platt. Pressure clearly doesn't get to Geyer, who sunk a birdie on the par 4 18th hole in his quarterfinal match just to stay alive and keep the match going.
Marsh and Geyer actually played La Cumbre together earlier this week, when they were in the same pairing for the stroke-play portion of the championship Monday and Tuesday. Marsh stuck around Friday when his match was over to see who his opponent would be, and joked to Geyer, "looks like I have to play with you again!"
California Amateur fans may remember a similar situation in 2010, when a local mid-am (Harry Rudolph) faced a West Coast Conference college stud Scott Travers in the final round of the event. It was Travers who bested Rudolph in that one.
Ronnald Monaco of Rancho Cucamonga and Ben Geyer (pictured) of Arbuckle both had their backs against the wall Friday morning, trailing 1 down heading to the 18th hole in their respective California Amateur Championship quarterfinal matches. Both rose to the challenge, however, as Monaco defeated defending champion and medalist Bhavik Patel in 19 holes while Geyer defeated Matt Hansen of Los Osos in 23 holes, the longest matches of the tournament thus far.
Monaco played from behind for most of his match, not taking the lead until the 19th and final hole. Defending champion Patel led by as many as three, an advantage he held from holes 10 through 13, before Monaco began mounting his comeback. The Santa Clara Broncos graduate birdied three of his final six holes to close out the match.
Geyer and Hansen had the match of the championship thus far, highlighted by a clutch birdie on the par 4 18th by Geyer to send the match into extra holes. Like Monaco, Geyer did not hold a lead in the match until it was over.
Both will be back on the course this afternoon as the championship move to the semifinals.They will, however, have quite the challenge ahead of them again Friday, as they both face off against Santa Barbara locals. Monaco will face Kevin Marsh, who defeated Cameron Rappleye 2 & 1 in the morning, while Geyer will battle Northwestern golfer Jack Perry, who cruised to a 7 & 5 victory over 15-year-old Sean Crocker in his quarterfinal match.
Marsh, a former SCGA Amateur Champion and USGA Mid-Am Champion, had to come from behind against Rappleye, who held an advantage in the match until the 15th hole. Marsh carded two birdies on the front nine, but an impressive four on the back.
"I didn't have my legs on the front nine, but I just played a lot better on the back," said Marsh.
And then there were eight.
The California Amateur Championship's Round of 16 concluded Thursday afternoon, and the lead group featuring medalist and defending champion Bhavik Patel and Maxwell Marsico left little to be disappointed by. The two golfers, who also finished third (Marsico) and fifth (Patel) in last year's SCGA Amateur Championship, gave each other everything they had in a back-and-forth match Thursday at La Cumbre CC. Patel emerged victorious in 20 holes, posting a score of 5-under par.
Marsico had momentum at the turn, carding birdies on 7 and 8 to go 1 up before doubling his lead with an impressive eagle putt on 9 that had about 15 feet of break. Marsico knew the 2 up lead on the defending champion was important, and unleashed a vintage "Tiger Woods" fist pump before walking off the green.
Patel wasn't going to back down, however, as he won holes 11, 13, 14 and 15 to take a 2 up advantage of his own. Marsico used a clutch birdie on 18 to send the match into extra holes, before Patel made an uphill 3-foot putt on hole 2 to close out the dramatic match.
Patel will move on to face Ronnald Monaco, who defeated Taylor Knoll 2 & 1 Thursday, in Friday's 7:30 a.m. quarterfinals match.
Also turning heads with his impressive play in the Round of 16 was 15-year-old Sean Crocker (pictured), the youngest player in the tournament's original 156-player field. Crocker, a Westlake Village resident who plays out of Spanish Hills Golf & Country Club, found himself matched up against Santa Barbara-native Shane Lebow Thursday. Down three at the turn and two after 13, the youngster birdied three straight holes to turn the match around. He eventually won 1 up.
"It's unreal," he said. "My goal was just to get into match play, and everything since then has been a bonus. The last putt on 18 to win the match was only four feet, but it felt like a 20-footer. My goal tomorrow is just to go out and continue to have fun."
While Santa Barbara locals saw the last of Lebow in the tournament, hometown favorites Kevin Marsh and Jack Perry managed to advance to the quarterfinals. After being down early, Marsh pulled out a 2 up victory over Benjamin Lein of Diamond Bar, while Perry came from behind to beat SCGA veteran Mark Miller 2 & 1.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals was Cameron Rappleye of Elk Grove, Calif., who has not played more than 16 holes in each of his matches thus far, Ben Geyer of Arbuckle and Matt Hansen of Los Osos.
Quarterfinal action Friday will be immediately followed by semifinal play. The 36-hole final will then be held Saturday.
Players, spectators and officials have been raving all week about the pristine course conditions at La Cumbre CC, and it seems the competitors didn’t want to quit playing Wednesday as six of the 16 Round of 32 matches at the California Amateur Championship went to extra holes, with two extending to 22.
“The course really allows for a lot of birdie chances,” said SCGA Director of Rules & Competitions Mike Sweeney. “It affords people the opportunity to play aggressively and mount a comeback.”
The most impressive comeback of the day may have come from Saint Mary’s golfer Ben Geyer, who found himself down four heading into the 12th hole before eventually beating Pace Johnson in 20.
“[Johnson] really didn’t make a bad shot all day, but on the front side I let some opportunities slip away,” said Geyer, who caught fire late and birdied five of his final seven holes. “On 12 I hit a nice drive and from there on out I really didn’t hit a bad shot.”
Also advancing on to the Round of 16 is medalist and defending champion Bhavik Patel (pictured), who lit up the La Cumbre course during stroke play for a two-day score of 13-under par. Patel found himself 3 up after his first three holes in his match against Tyler Raber, before letting the lead slip back to one heading into the 17th hole. Looking to put an end to Raber’s comeback, Patel drained a downhill 40-foot putt to complete his victory.
The No. 1-seeded Patel will face a hot Maxwell Marsico at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, in what will be the first Round of 16 match of the day. Marsico had one of the easiest victories Wednesday, defeating Ki Taek Lee of La Quinta 5 & 4, and carding six birdies in his 14 holes of play.
The Santa Barbara locals showed that home course advantage surely is an advantage here, as Kevin Marsh (pictured), Jack Perry, Niall Platt and Shane Lebow all escaped their Round of 32 matches. Perry and Platt each pulled out a stress-free victories, while Marsh and Lebow had to work a little harder for their wins.
Marsh, a favorite entering the tournament and two-time SCGA Amateur Champion, matched up Wednesday against Craig Davis of Chula Vista. Davis led by as many as two early in the match, before the two found themselves all square from holes 13 to 21. Marsh was able to birdie the par 4 376-yard fourth hole to secure the win.
Marsh will be joined in the Round of 16 by fellow SCGA veteran Mark Miller, who defeated rising star Jake Knapp in 19 holes.
“It gets to the point where you know you just have to go,” said Miller, who found himself down to after 16 holes. “The joy of match play is you never know what’s going to happen. He made some mistakes and let me back in the game. If someone lets you back in the game, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Bhavik Patel took a step towards defending his California Amateur Championship title Tuesday, earning medalist honors after shooting a two-day score of 13-under par 129. He and 31 others advanced on to the match play portion of the championship, which is being held at La Cumbre CC in Santa Barbara.
“The game plan was to stay aggressive, and I was able to do that. The course allows you to really succeed on the par 5s, especially if you hit the fairways,” said Patel, who birdied three of the four longer holes. “I enjoy match play because you can really feed off of your opponent, so I’m excited to get back out here tomorrow.”
Patel had an outstanding 17 birdies throughout the two-day stroke play event, while only carding four bogeys. He finished T16 in last year’s stroke play competition, before going on to win the championship with an impressive match play performance. He will open Wednesday's action at 7:30 a.m. against Tyler Raber, who entered the California Amateur fresh off of a solid performance at the British Amateur.
Narrowly missing out on medalist honors was Santa Barbara’s Niall Platt, who put together rounds of 66 and 65 to finish at 11-under par 131. Platt enters match play with quite the home course advantage, as his house sits just feet away from La Cumbre CC’s second tee.
Other Santa Barbara natives who advanced to match play were Round 1 co-leader Kevin Marsh, Brandon Gama and 19-year-old Jack Perry. Perry finished stroke play tied for third, carding rounds of 68 and 67, while Marsh faltered a bit, following up Monday’s spectacular round of 64 with a 72.
A playoff occurred following Tuesday’s round, with nine individuals battling it out for the final seven match play spots. The playoff only took one hole, and was highlighted by Peter Gibbs’ eagle on the par 5 9th hole.
Also advancing past the cut was 15-year-old Sean Crocker from Westlake Village, the youngest competitor in the field who posted a 5-under round of 66 Tuesday. He led a slew of youngsters into Wednesday's action, as eight of the 32 individuals in match play are teenagers.
The team portion of the tournament is complete, with the SCGA besting the NCGA, 717-671. Patel led the way for the South's team of himself, Jake Knapp, Manav Shah, Kevin Marsh, Max Homa and Jack Perry.
Perfect golf course conditions, spectacular weather and some of the best amateur golfers in California came together Monday at La Cumbre CC. The result? Three incredible rounds of 7-under par 64 to lead the field after the first round of the 101st California Amateur Championship.
The 64s were shot by defending champion Bhavik Patel, Ronnald Monaco and Santa Barbara native Kevin Marsh (pictured), who put themselves in great shape heading into Tuesday’s final round of stroke play. The top 32 individuals will then advance to the stroke play portion of the Championship.
“It would be really special,” said Marsh, when asked what it would mean to win this event at home. “I’ve never won this event, so to win it here would be great, but there’s just so much golf to be played. If this was a stroke play event, I’d like my chances, but match play, anybody can beat anybody on any given day. Things have to go your way. But it’s nice to get off to a good start.”
Marsh sure did get off to a good start, birdying his first four holes of the day to take a commanding place at the top of the leader board. He came back to earth a bit after that, but never relinquished his place on the scoreboard. Marsh, who currently lives in Nevada but originally comes from Santa Barbara, used to claim La Cumbre as his home course.
Equaling Marsh’s astonishing play, however, was Patel, who clearly didn’t feel the pressures that come along with being the defending champion. Patel carded nine birdies and two bogeys in the opening round of action, setting himself up to make a run for medalist, an honor he missed out on last year by seven strokes.
Monaco, who is playing in the California Amateur for the first time since 2009, when he failed to advance out of stroke play, gave himself a bit more breathing room this time around with a bogey-free round of 64. Before his practice round earlier in the week, Monaco had never played the course before, but that didn’t seem to matter.
“It felt good,” Monaco said. “Stuck to the game plan of hitting fairways and greens and I made some putts and all of a sudden I looked up and I was five or six under heading into my last few holes.”
Also going low Monday was Saint Mary’s golfer Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, Calif. and UC Berkeley golfer Max Homa of Valencia, Calif., who both fired rounds of 6-under par 65.
“It’s always nice to get off to a strong start,” said Homa. “You’re really just playing to get into the top 32, so getting a good first round out of the way is important.”
Geyer led all NCGA players with his 65. The NCGA is battling the SCGA for the Roger Lampham Trophy, which is awarded to the team with the lowest scores after stroke play. Six individuals are on each team, and final results are based on the best five scores for each team over the course of the first two rounds. Helped by team members Patel and Marsh, the SCGA took a commanding 330-356 lead Monday.
The 156 competitors will be back in action Tuesday beginning at 7:30 a.m.
36 HOLES OF STROKE PLAY QUALIFYING:
Monday, June 25
156 players competing in groups of three. 78 players starting between 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. off tees 1 and 10; 78 players starting between 12 – 2 p.m. off tees 1 and 10.
Tuesday, June 26
156 players competing in groups of three. 78 players starting between 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. off tees 1 and 10; 78 players starting between 12 – 2 p.m. off tees 1 and 10.
PLAYOFF: A playoff for the 32nd qualifying spot will take place immediately following the conclusion of regular play. Players on or near the cut line should ensure they are onsite
at this time.
Wednesday, June 27
First round of match play will take place with 32 players starting at 7:30 a.m. in groups of two.
Thursday, June 28
Second round of match play will take place with 16 players starting at 7:30 a.m. in groups of two.
Friday, June 29
Quarterfinal matches will take place with eight players starting at 7:30 a.m. in groups of two.
Semifinal matches will take place with four players starting at 1 p.m. in groups of two.
Saturday, June 30
36-hole final match will take place starting at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
The North/South Challenge is a two-day competition between the Northern California Golf Association and the Southern California Golf Association, which takes place during stroke play qualifying on Monday and Tuesday. The winning team will hold the rights to the Roger Lampham Trophy. Each team is selected by its respective association. The final results are based on the best five scores out of six for each of the teams over the course of the first two rounds. NCGA bested the SCGA in 2011, however the two associations have each held the title six times since 2000.
The 2012 teams are as follows:
Spectators are invited and welcome to attend the championship. However all spectators must adhere to the clubs dress code listed below. Spectators will not have access to the clubhouse but will have access to food and beverage at the snack bar. Restrooms are available near the snack bar and adjacent to the 7th and 15th tees. The use of cell phones is permitted only in the club’s parking lot. Spectators will not be permitted golf carts, all spectators must walk.
VERY IMPORTANT – APPLIES TO PLAYERS, CADDIES AND SPECTATORS
The following dress code is in effect for all players, caddies and spectators (friends, family members, guests, etc.):
Collared shirts or sport shirts designed for golf with a mock collar are allowed. All shirts must be tucked in at all times and caps must be worn forward (removed inside the clubhouse). Golf shorts shorter than six inches above the middle of the knee and longer than four inches below the bottom of the knee are not permitted. Baggy cargo shorts with protruding outside pockets (not flat stitched to the material) are not permitted.
Golf skirts, divided skirts (skorts), tailored slacks or Bermuda shorts (no shorter than six inches above the middle of the knee) are allowed. Women’s shirts must have sleeves, collars or both.
NOT PERMITTED (This policy is for spectators as well):
Appropriate dress does not include five pocket jeans or denim clothing of any color or type, cargo pants or cargo shorts, cut-offs, baggy or grunge-style clothing, jogging suits, leggings, drawstring or elastic waistband pants or shorts, halter tops, tube tops, bare or exposed midriffs, t-shirts/undershirts, tank tops or other extreme cut-away tops, stretch pants, tennis/swimming/running attire, single-toed thongs (flip-flops, go-aheads) or metal spiked shoes. Hats are not permitted in the clubhouse at any time La Cumbre Country Club is a non-metal spike facility (soft spikes or “spikeless” golf shoes are mandatory for all players).
Founded in 1908, La Cumbre Country Club joined the SCGA in 1916 with an 18-hole course — designed by the membership — comprised of sand greens and tees as was common in that era. Thomas Bendelow (Medinah, East Lake and Atlanta Athletic Club) was hired in 1918 to redesign the course and added grass greens and tees. His design of the sixth hole played as a 625-yard downhill par 5, and was no doubt one of the longest par-5s in California during the 1920s. That hole exists to this day, although shorter, as La Cumbre’s current sixth hole.
As the club grew, La Cumbre acquired additional lands around Laguna Blanca (The Lake) in 1926 from H.S. Chase. In 1928, George Thomas (of Riviera Country Club, The Los Angeles Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club fame) and William Bell built a new 18-hole layout that integrated portions of the existing course with new holes playing around the Lake. Thomas’ design for hole No. 3, the current 13th hole, remains fairly unchanged from how it originally played, as is hole No. 8, the old No. 16. To this day, it’s still the No. 1 handicap hole.
The club closed during World War II and remained closed for a decade. Billy Bell, Jr. redesigned the layout as a result of portions of the Thomas/ Bell course that were lost to real estate development. The Billy Bell, Jr. course opened in 1957 and retained many of the holes from the previous three courses. In recent years, the course has been lengthened especially on holes four, 12, 16 and 18.
In addition to hosting numerous USGA qualifiers over the years, La Cumbre CC was also the site of the 2010 SCGA Amateur Championship, which was won by Scott Travers. Travers not only bested Tiger Woods’ tournament scoring record, but also continued his historic summer in which he had previously capturing the California Amateur Championship and later advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCGA Amateur Championship. George von Elm is the only player to have ever captured all three titles in the same calendar year (1925).
Bhavik Patel admitted that he didn’t bring his “A” game to the final of the California State Amateur Championship on June 25. On a cold, foggy day at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, the Bakersfield golfer missed 10 of 14 fairways and reached only 10 greens in regulation.
But you’d never guess from the final score that his game was out of kilter. Patel’s brilliance with his putter enabled him to defeat Kevin Wentworth of Arnold 8 and 6 to claim the 100th California State Am title – the most lopsided score in the title match in 15 years.
“The wind swirls out here and seemed to be hurting all day,” Patel said afterward. “My shot game and putter won me the match.”
And what a thrill that was for a Fresno State competitor who had failed to qualify for match play in the previous two California State Amateurs. “I’ve got a long way to go,” he said, “but if I can hit my driver straight, I can really compete. This golf course taught me that. But knowing a lot of the names on that trophy and winning at Olympic in the 100th championship, it’s a dream come true.”
The story had a much less satisfying ending for Southern California golfers Philip Chian of Covina and Tain Lee of San Juan Capistrano. Chian, the top seed and medalist, was upset in the quarterfinals by 52-year-old Randy Haag 2 and 1. Lee also fell in the quarterfinals – a victim of the eventual champion, Patel, 4 and 3.