Not many players, when fishing for a partner for a local best-ball event, will find one who’s been to the title match of the U.S. Amateur and the Masters.
Jason Pereira asked. Robert Hamilton said yes. Jackpot! The pair will team up next week in the Sacramento County Four-Ball at Bing Maloney.
Pereira and Hamilton have been buddies since high school (Jesuit Class of ’95). Pereira, with a handicap index of 4.4, is a golf nut. Hamilton, who lost to Bubba Dickerson in the 2001 U.S. Amateur final and turned pro shortly after competing in the 2002 Masters, regained his amateur status in February 2012.
A torn labrum and rotator cuff, the result of a skiing accident, has kept Hamilton largely away from golf for two years. The last time he competed was at the 2007 PGA Tour qualifying tournament.
“It should be a fun event to get back out there and get the competitive juices going,” said Hamilton, who has a +3.0 handicap index.
If local amateurs are going to “get” Hamilton, now might be the time as he works through the rust.
“I can still throw up some low numbers,” he said between calls as a sales representative for a local packaging company. “It’s either a 67 or 75.”
Wes Leith, a best-ball tournament veteran who will team with Juan Gonzalez, has no problem with Hamilton – or any golfer – returning to the amateur ranks after competing as a pro.
“We’ll drag them back down to our level in no time,” Leith said.
It wasn’t the outcome the Sacramento State men’s golf team envisioned. The Hornets, hosts of the Sacramento State Invitational at Valley Hi on Monday and Tuesday, rallied a bit in Tuesday’s final round to finish sixth of 12.
On the other hand, redshirt freshman Julian Woodfork and sophomore Lee Gearhart were delighted. Woodfork’s scores counted in all three rounds for Northern Colorado, the tournament winner. Gearhart was similarly instrumental in helping Chico State, the only Division II school in the otherwise D-I event, finish second.
Woodfork transferred to Northern Colorado after an unsatisfying redshirt season at Sac State. When the Hornets wouldn’t guarantee him a roster spot this season, the McClatchy High School graduate looked for alternatives. He found a college home in Greeley, where winter practice is indoors and ball-striking critiqued on a simulator.
“They didn’t believe in me,” he said of Sac State. “I believed in myself.”
Gearhart, a Woodcreek High School graduate, opted to accept a scholarship offer from the D-II Wildcats rather than walk on at a D-I school. Chico, a perennial power at the D-II level, is ranked No. 7 this season.
“I felt I was wanted (in Chico),” he said. “I wanted to help a team rather than just fight for a roster spot.”
Individually, Gearhart tied for 12th with Sac State’s Owen Taylor and Jordan Weir. Woodfork tied for 20th.
• The UC Davis women finished second in the 13-team Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational in San Jose. Individually, Paige Lee tied for fifth for the Aggies.
• Folsom’s Kevin Lucas earned his biggest victory as a pro last week, winning an eGolf Tour West event in Beaumont and $14,000. It was a good tournament for several Sacramento-area minitour pros: John Catlin tied for sixth, Cameron Rappleye tied for ninth, and Grant Rappleye and Ben Geyer tied for 11th.
• Mark Cobey of Woodland won a Future Collegians World Tour event (boys 15-19 division) over the weekend at La Costa. Roseville’s Corey Eddings finished third.
• Carmichael brothers Andrew Roberts and Austin Roberts finished second in the Monterey County Four-Ball last week in Pacific Grove.
• In not exactly late-breaking news, Natalie Gulbis married Josh Rodarmel the week before Christmas.
Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.