Niall Platt, Greg Hetzer outplay competition
The SCGA Match Play Championship has never been won by anyone but a collegiate golfer, and this year was no different as Niall Platt of the University of Notre Dame captured the 5th SCGA Match Play Championship title with a 2 & 1 victory of USC's Stewart Hagestad. The victory is the first SCGA win for Platt.
"It feels great," said Platt after the round. "I putted really well and was able to take advantage of some opportunities. I really didn't have any expectations coming into the tournament so to pull this out feels pretty special."
Platt took a 1 up advantage on Hagestad with an eagle on the first hole of the match, a 524-yard par 5, a lead the Santa Barbara native would never relinquish. The match remained close throughout, however, with Hagestad never allowing Platt to take more than a two hole advantage.
Finding himself 2 down through 10, Hagestad was able to win the 11th hole with an impressive putt from the far left side of the green that just missed landing at the bottom of the hole. But, Platt made what may have been the putt of the match on the 341-yard par 4 12th hole, sinking a 30-footer to squash any momentum Hagestad may have gained. Despite allowing Hagestad to once again pull within one with four holes to play, Platt won hole 15 when Hagestad 3-putted for bogey to just about put the match out of his opponent's reach.
Platt, who entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed, defeated Ryan Indovina, David Kim, Gary Robinson and Ronnald Monaco en route to his title. He had an dominant 5 & 3 victory over Monaco in his semifinal round Wednesday morning, shooting 5-under during the 15 holes played.
"The course is kind to ball-strikers, and I did that well today," said Platt, who said despite living in the area hadn't played Sandpiper GC since the summer of 2010.
Platt finished his 17-hole final round with one eagle, two birdies and three bogeys. Hagestad carded one birdie and two bogeys. His strong finish in the tournament comes on the heels of a fourth-place finish at the SCGA Amateur Championship last month. He will compete in the U.S. Amateur Championship next week.
Greg Hetzer of San Pedro, Calif. also won his first SCGA title Wednesday, ending an impressive three days of play with a 2 & 1 victory over Jim Knoll of Sunnyvale in the SCGA Senior Match Play Championship. Hetzer beat Jeff Burda, the state's best senior golfer, Tuesday in the semifinals before knocking out the No. 2-seed Knoll in the finals.
"It's been a long time since I've won a tournament, and it feels great," said Hetzer. "The SCGA is a great organization and to win one of these tournaments with the guys in the field, it's really a treat."
Like Platt, Hetzer took a 1 up lead after the first hole and never gave it up, leading by as many as three at one point during the match. Knoll did cut the lead to one after winning holes 14 and 15, but a great approach shot on 17 sealed the deal for Hetzer.
"All I cared about was playing my game. I wasn't too aware of what was happening with my opponents games, I was just playing Greg Hetzer golf."
The SCGA Match Play Championships began in 2008 as a means of bringing new credence and incentive to the SCGA points program. The SCGA points program awards points to golfers who give strong performances in SCGA, USGA and CGA tournaments. In 2008, specially created Match Play and Senior Match Play Points lists were developed. The top 32 players on the Match Play Points List and the top 16 players on the Senior Match Play Points list earn invitations to compete in this elite SCGA championship.