Joe Deraney capped a tremendous 2016 with his fourth victory of the year in claiming the 25th Annual Stocker Cup.
Deraney, 33, seized control of the 54-hole championship with an opening-round 68. Two even-par rounds followed for a 212 total. The champion was the only player to equal or break par in all three rounds.
“I’ve been playing solid,” the champion said. “And winning brings confidence. But even more importantly, just getting into the mix teaches me how my game is going to respond, how my nerves will feel.”
Deraney’s win follows victories in the Lupton Invitational, the Timuquana Cup and the Kentucky Mid-Amateur. It is The Nashville resident’s second year competing as a mid-amateur and his second time competing in the Stocker Cup.
“I’ve been able to get of to good starts,” Deraney said, attesting to his opening 68, the second low round of the event. “My bad shots aren’t that bad.” Indeed, the champion would go 13-under over 54 holes against seven bogeys and one double bogey. He next heads to the Crane Cup in Florida brimming with confidence.
John Sawin of San Francisco finished one back. Sawin is a past champion (2013), and a consistent tournament, book-ending a one-over 73 with two-under rounds of 70 for a 213 total.
Andy McCabe of Dallas and second round co-leader Steve Hudson of Birmingham, Alabama finished in third, three strokes back. The 58-year-old Hudson won the Tatum Cup, award to the low senior player.
Two-time defending champion Brady Exber posted a hot 3-under 69 in the second round, but was unable to duplicate that efforts in rounds one and three, finishing eight shots behind the champion.
The Stocker Cup also has concurrent team gross and net events, and the low gross team champions are awarded the Elliot Cup. “A” player Brian Harris and partner John Brellenthin carded a final round 64 for a -18 total and a three-shot victory. Steve Hudson and Lawrence Field were second.
The team net event was won by Robert Funk and Craig Kalinowski, who posted a net 20-under 196.
The Preserve Golf Club has hosted the championship for most of its existence. Located in a 20,000-acre nature preserve high above Carmel, the course is a par-72 layout designed by Tom Fazio and Sandy Tatum that plays at 7,067 yards from the back tees. The tournament features two simultaneous competitions: An individual championship with 50 of the country’s top Mid-Am golfers, and a gross and net team competition pairing those same golfers with 50 avid golfers in a format similar to the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The B players include friends of Peter Stocker and the Stocker family, invited friends of A players, as well as Preserve GC members — many of whom graciously share their homes with their partners.
Today at The Preserve Golf Club Hudson, 58, proved that the golf ball doesn’t have any idea how old the person hitting it is. He fired the low round of the tournament so far, a 5-under 67 from a course tipped out to the maximum yardage it can play. He recorded 6 birdies against just a single bogey on the 471-yard par 4 15th hole, propelling him into a tie for the lead with first round leader Joe Deraney of Nashville at 4-under 140. Deraney got to that number by backing up his first round 68 with an even par 72 today.
,br> Giving chase at 141 (3-under) are Gene Elliott of Iowa (72 today) and Charles Waddell (72) and Nick Wood (70) who both stand at 2-under 142. 2013 champ John Sawin of San Francisco is lurking at 1-under 143, tied with the always dangerous Kevin Wolf of Lodi, Calif.
Steve Hudson’s partner Lawrence Field won the PGA National Junior title way back when, then hung up the golf clubs for 20 years. He’s into the game again, and along with Hudson has the gross lead at 12-under. They are chased down by Brian Harris (Indiana) and John Brellenthin (Dallas) who stand at 10-under. Three teams at 9-under include defending gross champs Jason and Jack Anthony. It’s going to be a battle on Saturday.
In the Net Team championship (the traditional Stocker Cup) the team of first-time contestant Patrick Christovich (New Orleans) and Mike “Big Cat” Machette have tied for the lead with first round leaders John Sawin and James Student, with a solid round of 65 today for a total of 13-under. Sawin and Student follwed their stellar 8-under start with a 5-under 67 today. With four teams tied at 12-under, it’s anyone’s to win.
For Joe Deraney a missed tee shot right on No. 10 resulted in a double-bogey. Silence followed, as neither Deraney (Nashville, TN) or his B player partner Drew Kitchen (San Francisco) wanted to break the ice.
“I knew what he was thinking,” said Deraney. “‘I just bogeyed my first hole and beat my partner.’”
Maybe that thought was motivation, as the seasoned mid-am golfer with two big titles under his belt in 2016 went 6-under from that point forward, posting one of the most unlikely rounds of 68 you’ll see, especially at a course that can challenge even the best Mid-Ams.
Deraney, ranked No. 7 in the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Am rankings, will try to capture another big title, after winning both the Lupton Invitational (Tennessee) and the Timuquana Cup (Florida) earlier this season.
A total of seven players broke par on a beautiful California fall day that found the recently-remodeled course in top condition. Just a stroke back of Deraney at 69 is Gene Elliott, the Iowa standout who is also enjoying an excellent season. Elliott sparked his round with a holed third shot from 90 yards for eagle on the par-5 4th hole, and could have tied Deraney had he converted a short birdie try on the last hole.
2013 champion John Sawin is one of three players to have posted 2-under 70. Sawin is coming off a recent runner-up finish at another Mid-Am “major” – the Crump Cup at Pine Valley (yes, top Mid-Ams have it good). Andy McCabe of Dallas was the lowest of the first-timers; he is tied with Sawin and second year player Charles Waddell of Chicago.
Twice-defending champion Brady Exber posted 75, and after the round joked about the course setup today (with three new “back-back” tees). “I don’t think George [Kelley, the tournament chairman] wants to see an old guy win it again this year.”
Knowing Exber, he is bound to be in the thick of things come Saturday.
A player Steve Hudson of Alabama and his B partner Lawrence field of Oklahoma both played steady golf alone (they both shot par) and were really good as a team. Their 66 leaves them tied for the gross team best-ball lead with Brian Harris of Indiana and his partner John Brellenthin of Dallas. Brellenthin poured in 4 birdies on the front nine (three-straight on Nos. 6-8) and added another on the back nine to help his partner by three shots.
In the Net team competition, John Sawin and his B player partner James Student fired 8-under 64, but they are closely chased by three teams who fired 65, and an amazing six teams who are all tied at 66.
ANOTHER “SHOT OF THE DAY”
In addition to Elliott’s eagle on No. 4, Brad Wilder’s partner Nick Feczko holed his second shot on No. 7 for an eagle 2 and a net score of 1.