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Month: September 2015

JTNC Has Been Force at First Tee Open

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Don’t be surprised if a player from the Junior Tour of Northern California is in the mix come this weekend’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills.

The last few years, the JTNC has been a force at the First Tee Open.

At the 2011 tournament, then-JTNC member Casie Cathrea won the Pro-Junior portion of the First Tee Open playing with Ben Crenshaw. Two years later at the 2013 First Tee Open, then-JTNC member Michelle Xie of Palo Alto won the Pro-Junior with professional partner Kirk Triplett.
That is, until The First Tee of Tucson member Christopher Meyers pulled off one of the greatest shots on the historic 18th hole at Pebble Beach—a double-eagle from 203 yards out—to give him and pro partner Lee Janzen the victory.At last year’s First Tee Open, meanwhile, JTNC member Joshua McCarthy and pro partner Peter Senior looked to have the Pro-Junior title sewn up.

Prior to Meyers’ miracle, McCarthy was already in the clubhouse with a day-low 64 that had pushed him and Senior to a total of 20-under 195. The tandem of fellow JTNC member Katie Horsford and pro Steve Elkington were also in at 195, but McCarthy would’ve won the tiebreaker due to having the lower round.

As for Meyers and Janzen, if they had come in at 195, they’d also have lost the tiebreaker, giving McCarthy and the JTNC back-to-back Pro-Junior titles.

With Meyers’ shot, the matter was settled. He and Janzen won the title with a total of 193.

“I was just stunned,” Meyers said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

While the JTNC’s bid for two wins in a row came up short, the Tour still had a fantastic showing. Nine out of the 13 JTNC members who played in the Pro-Junior made the cut.

This weekend, another 13 JTNC members—in this case, call them the Lucky 13— will have a shot at winning at Pebble Beach.
Considering how things have gone recently, one of the 13 will be in the title hunt on Sunday:

  • Daniel Connolly (exemption, San Francisco)
  • Jack Avrit (The First Tee of Central Coast, Arroyo Grande)
  • Noor Ahmed (The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Folsom)
  • Austin Fox (The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Folsom)
  • David Laskin (The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Elk Grove)
  • Drake Mendenhall (The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Granite Bay)
  • Nicole Schroeder (The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Rocklin)
  • Clare Brady (The First Tee of Silicon Valley, Campbell)
  • Bibilani Liu (The First Tee of Silicon Valley, Cupertino)
  • Ronnie McDowell Jr. (The First Tee of Silicon Valley, San Jose)
  • Ryan Ramboyong (The First Tee of Silicon Valley, San Jose)
  • Tiffany Cha (The First Tee of the Tri-Valley, San Ramon)
  • Ardin Lo (The First Tee of the Tri-Valley, Pleasanton)

UC Davis Coach Taps JTNC For Talent

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Longtime UC Davis men’s golf coach Cy Williams first became aware of the Junior Tour of Northern California a few years back thanks to the players he was recruiting.

“They’d send me their schedule and it’d have Junior Tour of Northern California events on it,” said Williams, who’s in his 19th year at the UC Davis helm. “More and more guys had JTNC events.”

These days, when Williams find himself on the recruitment trail for future Aggies, one of his first stops is the JTNC website.

“I’ve now got it bookmarked,” Williams said. “Now, when I recruit, if a kid sends in a JTNC result I check the whole field. I think it’s picked up in notoriety and strength the last few years.”

It certainly has. The 2011 JTNC Player of the Year was 2015 U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau. Last season’s NCAA Player of the Year Maverick McNealy, meanwhile, also was once a regular on the JTNC circuit.
As for how much Williams has invested in the JTNC, one only needs to look at the 2015-2016 Aggies’ roster. Eleven of the 12 Aggies on the current roster have a JTNC background– Quinn Carlsen (El Dorado Hills), Louie Chen (Fremont), Ben Corfee (Davis), Ryan Han (Hollister), Matt Klein (Lafayette), Evan Knight (Novato), Ryan Knop (Pleasanton), Nicholas Noya (South San Francisco), Jeremy Sanchez (Sacramento), Patrick Soli (San Carlos) and Luke Vivolo (Carmel).The caliber of players on the JTNC has become so good that today it even brings Williams out of his office. If he has time on his schedule, he now attends tournaments.

Corfee won the 2014 NCGA Four-Ball Championship playing with friend Scott Raber. Ryan Knop shot an 9-under 63 at Poppy Hills to win the 2014 JTNC Championship.

The only member of the 12-man squad that isn’t a JTNC product is Jesse Bratz—and that’s only because Bratz hails from Texas.

As far as Williams is concerned, college coaches—especially those in Northern California–don’t have to look too far outside of the region for talent.

“There are just so many great young players in Northern California. As a coach, I don’t think you need to go national,” said Williams, a native of Oakland. “The JTNC and JGANC (Junior Golf Association of Northern California) have done a great job. They are the ones you look at.”

When searching for recruits, Williams said for him it boils down to two categories: Scores and Potential.
Should Williams not exactly be sure what kind of potential player he might have, he’ll then examine some of the other intangibles.“Scores show that players can do it, or what they’re capable of doing,” Williams said. “The next thing is trying to figure out how good they’ll be in three years. One thing I look at is, do they do one thing well? For example, are they a good putter? A good ball striker? The key being that if they can establish the rest of their game, they’ll be a good player.”

“If someone is on the fence in my mind, and they have for example bad body language or a bad temper, that will sway me the other way,” Williams said. “As a coach, you don’t want to have to spend energy trying to modify negative behaviors.”

As for the latest crop of future Aggies, Williams said he’s already got his eyes on a number of current JTNC members.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some commitments in the fall,” he said.

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