Robert Gautney

Wednesday, Dec 25 2013 04:47 PM

ROBERT GAUTNEY: A look at the top local golf performances of 2013

By Robert Gautney

It was pretty tough to whittle down the list of the top-10 individual performances for 2013. So much so that I decided to make it a top 14. I know, that's the easy way out, but those listed below all deserved to be remembered once more! They are listed below, in no particular order, with a brief description. Four players made the list twice.

-- Ruffie Fessler played out his senior season at Fresno State University by receiving an at-large invitation to compete in the NCAA Western Regional and rewarded that pick by finishing 23rd (6-under-par 210) from a field of over 150 players. In 2012, Bhavik Patel, who played this year on the Web.com Tour, received that same invite and finished 38th.

-- Fessler made the list again for qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship when he shot a 141 (3-under-par) at the Bakersfield Country Club to garner the second of three qualifying spots. Although he didn't make match-play at the Country Club of Brookline in Massachusetts, just getting there is quite the accomplishment.

-- Likewise for Neil Bautista, who shot 142 at BCC and earned the third and final spot in that U.S. Amateur qualifying. He too didn't make the match-play at Brookline, but that will always be one for the memory album.

-- Bautista's second top performance came when he won the Men's Kern County Amateur when he canned a 10-foot par putt on the last hole to beat D.J Fernando by a shot. The win helped him finish third in the Player-of-the-Year race.

-- Kendall Huser was the top player on the Bakersfield College women's team all year and one of the best in the Western State Conference too. Huser finished second in the conference championship with rounds of 78-80 and advanced to the So Cal Championships where she just missed out on qualifying to compete at state by a single shot. Along the way, Huser won the WSC Match No.5 at the Santa Barbara Golf Club with a 77, but her runner-up in conference is what puts her on the list.

-- Nick Klassen, a pro at the Rio Bravo CC, had a nice round and a nice payday at the annual Links to Life pro-Am at Seven Oaks CC. Klassen shot a 3-under 69 to win the professionals division and along with it a check for $2,000.

-- M.J. Morin took his game north of the border and found himself the medalist in qualifying for the Canadian Amateur. Morin shot a 70 to beat 79 other players at the Royal Colwood GC in Victoria, BC. Morin went on to miss the 36-hole cut by two shots, but at least he put Bakersfield on the map up north.

-- Pete Fernandez, Jr., made the list twice. First for being the low amateur in the Long Beach Open. Fernandez shot 12-under-par 276 to beat the other amateurs and finished 14th overall. His spot was worth $2,030 on the professional side.

-- Fernandez's second keeper was his victory in the 43rd Long Beach City Amateur. A 10-under-par 62 in the second round propelled the UC Irvine sophomore to a 16-under-par 200 total on the Skylinks and Recreation Park golf courses. Fernandez trailed by a shot to Joey Kron going into the final nine holes but won by one stroke.

-- Blake McPherson earns a spot for his overall body of work in the Michelob Ultra/Sports Authority Player of the Year Series. McPherson won the Taft City and RiverLakes Amateurs and his third-place finish in the KC Amateur capped off his year-long effort to earn some nice hardware.

-- Bhavik Patel just missed out on getting a PGA Tour playing card for 2014 when he was 51st on the combined earnings list on the Web.com Tour. Only the top 50 earned some form of status on the big tour. But along the way, Patel had his best finish in the second tournament of the 2013 season. He finished 6th in the Columbia Championship and earned $25,200, by far his biggest payday as a pro.

-- Manav Shah stormed back in the final round of the Bakersfield City Amateur at Sundale CC with a 7-under-par 65 to win the title. It was the largest deficit ever overcome to win the tournament and just one shot from the final round record. As a side note, 58-year-old ageless wonder Dan Hogan tied the tournament's opening round record with his own 65.

-- Meghan Shain is the final player to make the list twice. Shain finished as the runner-up in the 85th Sacramento County Women's Amateur played at the Ancil Hoffman GC in Carmichael. Shain shot a pair of 1-under 72s against a strong field of top college players.

-- Shain's effort in the 86th Fresno City Women's Amateur completes the 2013 list. Shain was two shots down entering the final round at the Riverside GC, but she saved the best for last. Her course and tournament record 5-under-par 68 gave her a 3-under-par total (also a record) as she beat a strong field that included many top collegiate players. Shain had 6 birdies and an eagle in her memorable round.

-Ok, there it is. I am sure, as always, there are plenty of performances that could have been on this list, but I'll stick to these 14 as the best of the year.

On the team side of things, there were about 10 pretty good efforts, but after review, the six below were probably the best.

-- The CSUB men's team won its first Division I tournament, the Cal Poly Match-Play Challenge at Cypress Ridge in Arroyo Grande. The win was also the first since the 2007 season when CSUB competed in D-2.

-- The boys team at Stockdale High won the Central Section championship when it combined for a 381 total at the River Island CC in Porterville and beat favored Clovis West by three strokes.

-- Not to be outdone, the Bakersfield Christian girls also claimed a Central Section title (Division II) when they beat Fresno-Bullard and Lemoore at the Lemoore Golf Course with a 481 score paced by Julia Stewart who shot an 80.

-- Ron Killmer and Nick Vallejo almost became the fourth local team to win the SCGA 4-Ball Championship. The duo shot 67-66 on the Mission Viejo CC course but had to settle for second place by one stroke to David Bartman and Greg Funk, who won for the second time (2006).

-- While Killmer and Vallejo were the SCGA runners-up, the team of Jeremy Myers and Julian Williamson III (Bakersfield CC), went one better in the SCGA 4-Ball Net Championships. Myers and Williamson shot net rounds of 60 and 64 for a 20-under-par 124 total at the Sycuan resort in El Cajon and in the process beat another local team -- Dale Keene and Mike Banducci (Haggerty-North Kern), who finished second by four shots. Keene made a hole-in-one in the final round. Myers and Williamson became the second local team to win the SCGA 4-Ball Net, joining Robert Gautney and Mike Hawk who won in 1989 representing the now defunct Valle Grande GC.

-- And the final team to earn its way on the list just did so over the last two weeks as the RiverLakes Ranch men's club crew won the SCGA Southern California Scratch League title to advance to the state championship. Although they didn't win that state title, they became the first local team to win the SCGA So Cal Scratch League title.

CHIP SHOTS

-- The RiverLakes Ranch men's club didn't win that state title in the Scratch League. The 7-player team combined for only 16 points (lowest of the year) and finished well back of Turlock CC which amassed 36 points at the Big Canyon CC in Half Moon Bay. Granite Bay CC was second with 29 followed by Big Canyon CC (the other So Cal team) with 27. Jeremy Choi was the only player to finish second in his 4-player group as the course and conditions were super tough. But congrats on that So Cal title to the boys at RiverLakes!

-- The Web.com Tour Qualifying was last week and Zack Fischer won with a 31-under-par total of 401 (90 holes) on the Stadium and Nicklaus courses at PGA West. Fischer earns a spot into all of the 2014 Web.com Tour events (he also won $25,000) while players that finished in the top 10 are exempt for the first 12 tournaments. It took an 18-under-par score to finish 10th.

-- Sports Authority reports that a couple of players have yet to redeem their gift cards for the 2013 Michelob Ultra/Sports Authority Player of the Year. If you finished in the top 10 in points, you know who you are so if you haven't picked-up your gift card please do so before the end of the year.

-- Greg Norman has committed to play in the 2014 Humana Challenge joining such players as Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler and 2013 champion Brian Gay. The PGA Tour event will be Jan.16-19 in La Quinta. Advanced tickets can be purchased online at www.HumanaChallenge.com.

-- Don't hesitate to report top individual and team performances, holes-in-one or any other golf-related news, both amateur and professional that you think the readers would like to know about and keep Tee to Green posted on results for college players to the e-mail address below.

Tee to Green appears weekly at Bakersfield.com/Sports. You can reach Gautney at gautney@att.net

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