Report Courtesy: NCGA.org
PEBBLE BEACH -- Ben Geyer just keeps making history. A month after becoming the first player in 54 years to win back-to-back titles in the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, Geyer became the first player in 51 years to win the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play and Match Play championships in the same year.
He accomplished that by winning the110th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill on Friday beating Andrew Morgan 5-and-4 in the 36-hole final.
“Reading about that in the [match play preview] article kind of pumped me to want to play really well and win this tournament,” he said.
With the victory the 2012 NCGA Player of the Year now deeply cements his legacy in NCGA amateur golf. It almost may not have occurred as Geyer originally had hoped to be playing in the U.S. Amateur this week, but the day after his Stroke Play victory a month ago, the Arbuckle native failed to qualify the next day at Del Rio CC. Amazingly though, thinking he had gone out on top once already, adding another title to go out on top again makes things twice as nice.
“To [win both events] is really special and a nice way to go out,” said Geyer, who plans to go professional in the coming weeks.
The 21-year-old’s victory started off by halving the first seven holes with Morgan, before things quickly turned into Geyer’s favor. On the eighth hole Morgan hit his tee shot down the right and was obstructed by some trees on his second shot, forcing him to layup 30 yards short of the green to take bogey. Geyer on the other hand made a two-putt-par from 30 feet from the back fringe to take a 1-up lead, which he never relinquished and instead built on.
The Arbuckle native won the next three holes (Nos. 9, 10 and 11) with two pars and a birdie to take a 4-up lead, rolling in the first birdie of the day between the two competitors on the par-5 11th. Morgan briefly cut Geyer’s lead to 3-up with a two-putt birdie on No. 14, but a wedge to three-feet on the par-3 15th and an up-and-down par from the bunker on No. 16 gave Geyer a 5-up lead, which he would take into the afternoon round.
“[Winning Nos. 8-11] just really freed me up and I was able to keep trying to make more birdies and trying to hit it close to put pressure on my opponent,” said Geyer.
Morgan, who had trailed for all of two holes in his four matches combined, found himself in an unfamiliar spot. As frustrated as the redshirt freshman at Cal might have been losing those four holes, Morgan tried not to let it deter him and keep fighting on.
“You never want to play from behind, but I was optimistic I knew it was a long day,” said Morgan.
The day continued to get longer for Morgan over the second 18 when Geyer made birdie on the par-4 second to increase his lead to 6-up. It looked as if Morgan might still have a chance when a peculiar situation happened on the par-4 sixth that cut Geyer’s lead to 4-up, when he lost the sixth and seventh holes only moments apart.
After a plugged shot in the bunker Geyer failed to extract the ball out on his first attempt and barely got it out on his second attempt. With Morgan getting his third shot within a foot of the cup for a conceded par cutting the match status to 5-up, Geyer took a practice bunker shot in violation of the Rules of Golf. The penalty was loss of the next hole, cutting the lead to 4-up, having the players skip the seventh hole and go onto the eighth. But just as No. 8 was the turning point in the morning 18, it was again in the afternoon as Geyer sank a 15-foot birdie putt, while Morgan subsequently missed a birdie putt from a similar length, giving Geyer a 5-up lead. Trading holes with birdies on the 10th and 11th, the two players then halved the next three holes with Geyer winning the match 5-and-4 on the par-5 14th hole.
Geyer spoke highly of Spyglass Hill GC calling it his favorite course, and was grateful for the help his collegiate coach, St. Mary’s Scott Hardy, over the past few years. He also mentioned how NCGA tournaments have been a big help in his career and made him a better player. Above all though, Geyer was most grateful for the support of his family as more than a dozen people were out following his match. Family is so important in fact that Geyer hopes to make it through Q-School so he can have a home-base in Northern California and not have to move to Florida or Arizona for a mini-tour circuit.
“Hopefully I’ll stay in Arbuckle for sure if I get to the Web.com Tour,” he said.