Hutchison Claims 115th NCGA Match Play

Thomas Hutchison of San Jose rallied in the afternoon round to capture the 115th Northern California Golf Association Match Play Championship with a 3-and-1 victory over Ned Jensen of San Francisco at Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach.

The 18-year-old Hutchison, a sophomore at UC Davis, was 2 down after the morning round before turning the match his way by charging to a 4-up lead on the front nine in the afternoon.

“It’s a pretty exhausting week,” Hutchison, who finished only 31st on the stroke-play portion of the tournament. “It feels good to have got the job done. … I just tried to keep giving myself as many opportunities as I could.

“ … Knowing my name is with those others who’ve won this, it’s exciting. Hopefully, I’ll go on to have the same success as those guys before me.”
Jensen, 25, a caddie at California Golf Club in San Francisco and San Francisco Golf Club, built his morning lead with birdies on the seventh and 17th holes.

When he fell into a deep hole after the first nine holes of the afternoon, Jensen didn’t give up, getting right back into the hunt by carding birdies on the 29th and 30th holes to slice his deficit in half.

Things really got interesting when Jensen sank a curling 38-foot putt for his third consecutive birdie, but Hutchison answered with a long birdie putt of his own to maintain a 2-up lead after 31 of the scheduled 36 holes.

“He was gaining serious momentum at that point,” said Hutchison, who also won the San Jose City Championship in July and the 2016 NCGA Junior Championship. “Right when he hit it, I thought, ‘Oh man, it’s tracking right at the cup.’ And then it dropped in. But I also got a good read from his putt. He basically gave me the line.”

Hutchison pushed the lead back to 3 up with a birdie on the 32nd hole, but gave one back with a three-putt bogey on the next hole, and after they halved the next hole he was able to wrap things up on the penultimate hole.

Jensen tried to drive the par-4 17th green, but went long and chipped back, but was unable to save par. Hutchison laid up off the tee and closed out the match with a routine par.

“I thought I’d leave my chip in front of the green, but it went too far down towards the water,” Jensen said of the final hole. “My goal all week was to not hold back. If I had that chip again, I’d try to do the same thing.

“I’m still really happy with my week. I’ve been working really hard to be able to play with these guys. Sometimes putts drop, and sometimes they don’t.”
Hutchison etched his name on the trophy alongside the names of amateur legends such as George Von Elm, Lawson Little Jr. and Charlie Seaver, plus future PGA Tour winners Bob Rosburg, John Lotz, Roger Maltbie, Kevin Sutherland and Spencer Levin.

Another winner was John Brodie of Oakland, former quarterback for Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers, who played on both the PGA Tour and what is now the PGA Tour Champions.

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