SEASIDE, Calif. – Ben Geyer did something Sunday that nobody has done in the modern era of the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship. The 21-year-old became the first ever defending champion, winning the 10th annual event by nine strokes with a 54-hole total of 205, 11-under-par at Bayonet Golf Course.
Geyer, who held a three-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round after rounds of 70 and 67, fired a 68 on Sunday for a third straight day of under-par golf, routing the rest of the field. Starting off his round with a little shakiness by making bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5, the 2012 NCGA Player of the Year looked like he might be in a trouble early and he knew it.
“I felt like I had a really bad mindset starting out,” said Geyer, who had a couple of birdie chances in the first couple holes that he didn’t convert. "Once I didn’t make those couple birdies early, I started thinking negatively that I might not make any putts today.”
Geyer became the first player to win back-to-back Stroke Play titles in 54 years. However, the Arbuckle native quickly got things together going five-under on four-hole stretch. Beginning on the eighth hole, Geyer made a birdie on the par-5 and then added another on the ninth to go out with a 36. Then on the par-5 10th he made an eagle-3 and then followed that up with a birdie on the 11th. From there on out, Geyer cruised to the finish-line making six pars and adding another birdie on the 16th to come in with a 32.
“I was playing not to lose and then all of a sudden I woke up out there,” he said.
The NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship has actually had back-to-back champions in its history before going dormant in 1966. The last back-to-back champion was over 50 years ago when Verne Callison claimed back-to-back titles in 1958-59, with the two others being Talbert Smith in 56-57, and recently inducted World Golf Hall of Famer Ken Venturi in 51-52.
“Those are some pretty good names to be in the company of,” said Geyer. “It feels awesome.”
As far as trying to become the first player ever to win three consecutive titles in the championship, it looks to not be in the cards for Geyer. The recently graduated business major at St. Mary’s College plans to turn professional next month after hopefully participating in the U.S. Amateur. With that likelihood this will have been the Geyer’s final NCGA event and he’s glad to have been associated with the NCGA over the last few years