Harris pulls out clutch wins;
Brammer Raises some Eyebrows

Rancho Santa Fe, CA–The 2011 San Diego Match Play saw 36 holes of action on Saturday at Morgan Run’s North and South nines with the Round of 16 matches in the morning and the quarterfinal matches in the afternoon. Some very solid play was displayed by some of the county’s top amateur players, even in some losing efforts.

Round of 16

(1) seed Jimmy Harris of San Diego took on (16) seed Taylor Massey in a match that saw Massey grab a three-up lead after ten holes of play thanks to Massey blistering those holes in 3-under par. Harris showed some resolve on the back nine, fighting his way back into the match with wins on hole #11 with a birdie, #13 with a par, and a birdie on the par three 14th hole to get back to even. Massey, who played solid all day, won seventeen with a par to take a one-up lead into the last hole. On #18, Harris put himself in awful position in the fairway bunker approximately 75 yards to the pin. After Massey safely hit the green about 12-feet from the hole Harris hit what was thus far the shot of the tournament. Harris hit one of the hardest shots in golf to 4 feet and was able to convert to send the match into sudden death. Playing the 18th hole again, both players hit the green in regulation after nice wedge shots, Massey some ten feet from the hole and Harris about eight feet. Massey’s solid attempt just slid by, and Harris nailed the birdie to win in 19 holes. A very nice match with two very solid performances.

(8) seed Eben Dobson of Solana Beach took on (9) seed and arguably the best amateur golfer of all time in San Diego County, Pat Duncan. Dobson would play well all match, holing key putts and getting the ball up and down all day. Duncan, who made only one birdie in 35 holes of play in the tournament, went down two late to Dobson which was a lead to much to overcome. Dobson would go on to win, 1-up.

In the upset of the morning, (20) seed Bill Brammer was able to down (4) seed John Kollus of San Diego in extra holes. Kollus, who enjoyed a two-up lead after 11 holes and went undefeated in the 2010 Century Club Matches, simply could not put Brammer away. An opportune Brammer got back into the match, winning holes 12 and 17 with pars and hit all the shots and made the key putts necessary to do so. After the players tied with par on the 19th hole, Brammer would hit an amazing approach shot, stuffing it to a foot from approximately 150 yards on the 20th hole and won after Kollus conceded the match once his birdie putt slid by the cup.

In a much anticipated matchup, (12) seed Matt Christensen went up against (5) seed Scott Stevens of Encinitas on Saturday morning. Stevens and Christensen were deadlocked after 10 holes in a match that saw Christensen win holes 11, 13, 14, and 15 to grab the 4 and 3 victory. A balky putter cost Stevens on Saturday, while Christensen closed out the match in style making birdie on holes 14 and 15 for the victory.

The most fireworks of the round of 16 belonged to the (2) seed Buddy Duncan versus (18) seed Gary Robinson match. Robinson would win the first two holes to build an early two-up lead which stood until the 7th hole. Duncan would win holes 7-10 thanks to a nice stretch of four birdies in a row. The match would end with Duncan and Robinson tying with par on the par-three seventeenth tee (Duncan prevailing, 2 and 1). For the record, Duncan was 6-under for the round, and Robinson was 4-under for the day.

(26) seed Mark Grudzielanek squared off against (10) seed Pete Roberts on Saturday morning. Down one-hole early, Roberts would build a 2-up lead heading into the final nine. Grudzielanek, who came back from five-down to win his first match, could not muster a charge against the veteran Roberts on Saturday. Roberts would play solid all day and never allow Mark back into the match, winning 4 and 3.

(3) seed Phil Walker of Rancho Santa Fe went up against (19) seed Patrick Baxter of La Jolla. Walker would build a 3-up lead after 8 holes that would dwindle to two after a nice birdie by Baxter on the par three 9th hole. Baxter tried to surmount a charge on the back nine, but Walker was able to hang in there, ultimately winning on the 16th hole, 4 and 2.

In a battle of former and current Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Champions, (6) seed Jeff Hunter squared off against (11) seed Don O’Connor in the last match of the morning. Hunter would fire a 2-under par 34 on the front nine to build a two-up lead. O’Connor made birdie on the par five 10th hole to get the match to one-down but could not get it any further. The players matched each other, hole-for-hole, until Hunter would par the 17th hole to win, 2 and 1.

Quarterfinal Matches

Quarterfinal match #1 would see the (1) seed Jimmy Harris take on (8) seed Eben Dobson. Dobson made two birdies on the front nine to build a two-up lead after seven holes. Harris would respond and gather some momentum, tying the match after birdies on #8 and #9. It was Dobson’s turn to respond and he did so nicely, winning with a birdie on the 594 yard par 5 10th hole. Down one hole, Harris would regain the lead thanks to a nice stretch of back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14. Dobson would again respond, tying the match with a birdie on the 15th hole. In a match full of momentum swings, the players headed into the 16th hole all square. After both players missed the green, Dobson’s birdie chip would lip out, while Harris was able to hole his for birdie. Up one hole with two to play, Harris would hit a poor tee shot on 17 and Dobson again responded with a good tee shot and a par to once again even the match. Harris would prevail on the last hole, making par to win the match 1-up. Both players should be commended on a fun and exciting match.

With barely any time to eat some lunch after the 20-hole victory in the morning, (20) seed Bill Brammer went up against long-hitting Matt Christensen of Escondido in quarterfinal match #2. Brammer started right where he left off, building a two-up lead after nine holes with Christensen playing out of the left rough all front nine. Christensen would gather some momenum though, hitting the 594 yard par-five 10th hole in two big shots and winning the hole with a two-putt birdie. Christensen would even the match with a par on twelve, but Brammer played too steady and too solid all day. Brammer would make par on the 17th hole to grab a 1-up lead and would win easily once Christensen’s tee shot flew 320 yards, onto a cart path, and out-of-bounds past the green on the final hole. Brammer, who played solid all day, would win 2-up. The 58-year old Brammer, who hails from Rancho Santa Fe, has a spring in his step and looks to continue his momentum and solid play in the morning.

Quarterfinal Match #3 would see a matchup of two of the longest hitters in the tournament. (2) seed Buddy Duncan would bogey his first two holes of the afternoon and play the front nine in 2-over par. Roberts played good, steady golf on the front nine and built a two-up lead thanks to birdies on 7 and 8. Duncan would get right back into the match, squaring things up after birdies on 10 and 11. Roberts and Duncan would match each other, shot-for-shot and hole-for-hole until Duncan would win the 17th hole with a par to take a 1-up lead into the final hole. Roberts had about 10-feet for birdie to send the match to extra holes, but Duncan prevailed once the putt slid past the hole, 1-up.

In a bizarre and extraordinary match, (3) seed Phil Walker and (6) seed Jeff Hunter squared off with both players playing out of Rancho Santa Fe. Hunter was the only player in the afternoon to birdie the 453-yard par four 4th hole, holing a nice chip shot to grab a 1-up lead. Walker would respond, making birdie on holes 7 and 8 to take a 1-up lead heading into the back nine. On hole #11 Walker would top his tee shot and then smother-hook his second shot still about 100 yards away from the green. Hunter would hit his 2nd shot to the back edge of the green, while Walker would hit his 3rd shot to about 40-feet away. It was then that both players realized they hit each others ball, with Hunter automatically losing the hole since he hit the wrong ball first. Both players, perhaps a bit rattled and stunned, would bogey the next hole with Walker remaining 2-up. Hunter would scratch his way back into the match and then some, winning holes 13, 14, and 16 to go 1-up. Walker would even the match on 17 with a par and both competitors headed to 18 all square. With the pin in a difficult position on the par-4 18th hole, Hunter would hit his approach just long and Walker would extricate himself from a tough lie behind a tree, finding the green in the front left swail some 60 feet from the hole. Hunter hit a good chip, just grazing the edge of the hole with 3-feet remaining for par. In a stunning turn of events, Walker would hit his 60-foot putt onto the upper tier with it grazing the right edge of the hole and dropping in for an improbable and exciting birdie to win the match, 1-up.

The Semifinal matches will commence at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, with the final match and consolation match taking place at approximately 12:30 p.m.

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San Diego Match Play Round of 32 in the Books

Rancho Santa Fe, CA–The 2011 San Diego Match Play Championship got underway on Friday afternoon at Morgan Run’s South and North nines. Players had good scoring conditions on a warm and sunny afternoon.

16-seeded Taylor Massey built an early two-up lead over 16-seed Spencer Thurn of Rancho Santa Fe that he would never relinquish on Friday afternoon. Massey would go on for the win, 3 and 1. Massey may have his work cut out for him in the round of 16, drawing #1 seed and defending champion Jimmy Harris.

Eben Dobson birdied three of his first seven holes to build up a lead over John Fieberg of San Diego. Fieberg played his last 11 holes in 1-under par to get back into the match and had an opportunity to send things to extra holes. 1-down heading into #18, a wayward tee shot cost Fieberg, allowing Dobson to 2-putt for a 2-up win. Dobson will go on to play Pat Duncan in the round of 16.

In a tight match, Pat Duncan played some steady golf to win his match 2 and 1 over Kenneth Kubis of San Diego. Duncan even sported some new technology and is looking forward to a good match in the morning with 8-seed Eben Dobson.

Bill Brammer, the 20-seed, went up early and then held on late to defeat a charging Akash Patel of San Diego. Brammer, who hails from nearby Rancho Santa Fe, went dormie (3-up with 3 to play). A three-putt bogey on 16 and an errant tee shot on 17 allowed Patel back into the match but ultimately he failed to capitalize. Brammer won 1-up after both players bogeyed the 18th hole. Brammer draws the 4-seed, John Kollus, in the round of 16.

In a good match, long-hitting Matthew Christensen of Escondido out-powered Charles Will of San Diego. Will played well but Christensen’s ball-striking was just to much to overcome. Christensen would go on to win, 4 and 3 and will face #5 seed Scott Stevens in the morning.

In an up and down match Gary Robinson played better down the stretch in a match that was even after 12-holes against Derrick Farino of Poway. Robinson would win 13, 15, and 16 and defeat Farino 3 and 2. Robinson draws the Buddy Duncan heading into the round of 16.

It was a tale of two nines for #7 seed Thomas Isaak of San Diego against #26 seed Mark Grudzielanek of Rancho Santa Fe. Isaak played flawlessly on the front nine while Grudzielanek struggled mightily, going 5-up at the turn. What happened next no one except maybe Grudzielanek could have imagined. Grudzielanek suddenly came alive, making birdies on 10 and 12, and winning the 13th with a par. 2-down going into the par 5 15th hole, Grudzielanek holed what Isaak would later describe as the momentum-swinger in the match. Isaak, 20-feet from the hole in two shots, watched Mark hole a 25-foot birdie putt on the hole to avoid going 3-down with 3 to play. Isaak would 2-putt for birdie and keep his two-up lead, however Grudzielanek would win the next three holes to win the match, 1-up.

In a close match, Pete Roberts of Carlsbad would outlast newcomer Tyson Browning of La Jolla. Roberts, a century club matches veteran of many years, used that experience to hang on for the 2 and 1 victory over Browning. Roberts draws Mark Grudzielanek in the round of 16.

Mark Stuart and Patrick Baxter, both from La Jolla, had an excellent match as well on Friday afternoon. Stuart, who was two-down after six holes, played steady golf and was able to actually go dormie turning the deficit into a two-up lead with two holes to play. Baxter would win the 17th hole with a tough par. With Stuart 1-up and safely in for par on #18, Baxter had a 15-foot chip he knew he had to make to send the match to extra holes. Baxter would respond, holing out his chip shot to send the match to sudden-death. Perhaps a bit rattled, Stuart would three-putt for bogey on #1 North in the playoff, allowing Baxter to two-putt for the win in 19 holes.

The round of 16 kicks off tomorrow morning from 7:22 to 7:46 a.m. on the South-North nines at Morgan Run Golf & Country Club.

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