Young UCLA stars have begun to take over the SCGA Major Championships, as rising UCLA sophomore Anton Arboleda is the latest to take home an SCGA title. One month after his Bruin teammate Patrick Cantlay won the SCGA Amateur, Arboleda won the SCGA Match Play Championship Wednesday. He secured the victory with a 2 & 1 win over Greg Moss in the tournament’s final round.
“I feel like I played pretty solid all week,” said Arboleda. “I putted well and really kept myself out of trouble.”
Arboleda was hot coming into this week’s tournament, recently finishing second in the Pacific Coast Amateur, and remained as consistent as ever, finishing his four-round, three-day stint at Sandpiper GC at 20-under and only committing three bogeys. Never trailing in his final match against Moss, Arboleda sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to clinch the win.
“17, when I made that putt, that was huge,” said Arboleda. “But earlier in the round, when I chipped it in on nine, that was really a confidence booster. It gave me a nice cushion heading into the back nine.
Arboleda was about six yards from the green on 9 when he chipped the ball into the hole to take a 2-up lead. The ball landed on the front part of the green and rolled in the hole for birdie.
Moss, despite finding himself in numerous bunkers throughout the match, was able to keep it close up until the end, and down just one hole entering 17. Despite never leading, he also never trailed by more than two holes. Moss had a 2 & 1 win over SCGA veteran Kevin Marsh earlier Wednesday morning in a semifinal match.
En route to the finals, Arboleda defeated current California HS Individual Champion Xander Schauffele, 2006 California State Amateur Champion Jordan Nasser, as well as two other competitors.
Next up for Arboleda will be the U.S. Amateur, which occurs later this month at Erin Hills. It will be Arboleda’s second time qualifying for the event, the first since 2008.
Howie Knodt won his second SCGA Senior Match Play Championship Wednesday, defeating defending champion Brad Larsen 5 & 4 in the final round. Knodt had previously won the title in 2009.
"It's always terrific to win an SCGA event," said Knodt. "To be able to win here against all these guys is terrific. I couldn't be happier."
The three-day Championship was held at Sandpiper GC in Goleta, and Knodt, the two-seed from Chula Vista, got off to a somewhat rocky start Monday, needing 19 holes to defeat Mel Collins of Long Beach in an opening round match.
According to Knodt, however, it got easier to read the greens as he moved through each of his four round of play. By Wednesday, his confidence was high.
"I think I was keeping the ball pretty much in play and giving myself a good chance of hitting the greens," he said. "I felt really confident with my putting. After four rounds, I finally got the greens figured out."
Knodt had five birdies and one bogey in Wednesday's round.
Larsen, who won the event in 2010, is the SCGA's reigning Senior Player of the Year.