ROSEVILLE – Keith Okasaki of William Land Park grabbed the NCGA Valley Championship at Morgan Creek GCC.
Okasaki earned the championship on the strength of a tremendous opening-round 67, posting 10 birdies. The rising senior at UC San Diego followed with a closing even-par 72 for a five-under 139 total and a two-stroke win.
“I felt really comfortable with the putter both days,” the Sacramento resident said. “This really helps my confidence.” Okasaki left for school immediately after the championship and has his first collegiate tournament of the year this weekend in Washington. The champion has made it to the NCCA Division II regionals the last two seasons and looks for the Valley title to propel him further in his final season of collegiate eligibility.
Three players tied for second – Kyle Prolo of Usfdons.com Golf Team (who earned runner-up status in a card-off), Grant Rappleye of Valley Hi and The Olympic Club’s Randy Haag, who garnered his unprecedented fifth NCGA Player of the Year award. The 51-year-old still has a few years to add to that total before senior golf beckons.
“Who knows,” the low amateur at the British Senior Open said when asked if he still has a few more player-of-the-year campaigns left in him. “But it’s great to have the points system. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
In the senior division, Del Rio’s Jeff Burda and Paul Balatti of Mayacama tied for the championship at the end of regulation, both carding one-under 143 totals.
After a five-hole playoff, Balatti earned the title with a par.
“There seven, eight, maybe 10 guys that can win every time we play,” the Santa Rosa resident said. “You never know who’s going to perform well. But I really only had one bad hole today (a double bogey on #9).” The champion closed with a two-under back nine placing him in a playoff with Burda, who with the runner-up finish takes over first place in the race for NCGA Senior Player of the Year. The Modesto resident previously won that award in 2008.