Bobby Bucey of Concord captured the 107th California Amateur Championship, coming from 3 down after the morning round to beat Hidetoshi Yoshihara of Irvine, 1 up, in the 36-hole final at Omni LaCosta Resort and Spa in Carlsbad.
Bucey rallied to take the lead to the final hole after Yoshihara three-putted from 30 feet for a bogey on the 17th hole in the afternoon, but it wasn’t over until the UCLA sophomore missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff.
“This is awesome, this is my Masters,” said the 29-year-old Bucey, an accountant who won the Northern California Mid-Amateur Championship for the second time last year and also claimed the 2014 NCGA Stroke Play Championship. “This is enough pressure for me. Playing for money … I’m not saying I couldn’t do it, but I think it would suck the fun out of it. I love amateur golf.
“I have so much experience over the years, with college events, NCGA stuff, city tournaments. You learn how to manage your feelings–whether you’re up or down, hitting it great, or hitting it awful. I’ve learned a lot mentally. Physically, I feel as good as ever.”
Yoshihara, 19, birdied three of the last four holes in the morning round to take a 3-up lead at the break by carding what would have been a 5-under-par 67, then build his lead to 4 up by winning the second hole in the afternoon.
Bucey won the sixth and seven holes with birdies, the latter with a 20-foot putt, and then pulled even by winning the ninth and 10th holes. Yoshihara regained a 1-up lead, but Bucey pulled even again with a five-foot birdie putt at No. 15 and remained tied with an up-and-down par on the next hole before taking the lead on the penultimate hole.
In the semifinals, Bucey got past Tyler Guo of Irvine, 2 and 1, while Yosihira downed Forbes Collins of Lake Forest, 5and 4.
Bucey also had a tough time in the quarterfinals, falling 4 down to Noah Woolsey of Pleasanton, before winning the sixth and seventh holes and playing bogey-free the rest of the way to win, 3 and 2.
Yoshihara also lost in the 2016 California Amateur Championship final to Shintaro Ban of San Jose and UNLV, 5 and 4, at Valencia Country Club.
Previous winners of the California Amateur include Johnny Miller, Ken Venturi, Gene Littler, Mark O’Meara, Duffy Waldorf, Jason Gore, Bobby Clampett, Charlie Wi, Bob E. Smith, Dick Lotz and Xander Schauffele.
For complete results, visit https://calam-2018californiaamateurchampionship.golfgenius.com/pages/3920090728440549908.