Clutch shot lifts Kanda by a stroke

GLENDALE — Entering the final hole, Brett Kanda liked his chances.

With a strong tee shot, clutch short game and the ability to get out of the bunker, the La Crescenta resident and Flintridge Prep graduate showed quite a bit of poise when it mattered most.

Kanda had a strong bunker shot and then tapped in a one-foot putt for birdie to topple Patrick Duncan, Jr., 1 up, in an opening round of match-play competition at the 98th annual California Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City.

“I had things go well for me on 18,” said Kanda, who will be a senior in the fall at UNLV. “I hit my tee shot right on the fairway and then my approach landed in the right bunker.

“I hit the shot out that landed a foot from the hole. Then I tapped it in. My bunker game felt good. I was a little nervous on the last hole, but I handled it well.”

The 11th-seeded Kanda, a former All-Area Boys’ Golfer of the Year pick, who finished in a four-way tie for eighth place in the stroke-play portion of the prestigious tournament Monday and Tuesday with a 142, will meet 15th-seeded Steve Woods of Cupertino in a round-of-16 match at 8:40 a.m. today.

Kanda, who didn’t advance to match play when the tournament was held last year at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale and Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake, never trailed against the 22nd-seeded Duncan of Rancho Santa Fe. Kanda finished with 12 pars, four birdies and two bogeys. Kanda birdied the 15th, 16th and 18th holes to fend off Duncan, who Kanda had never faced.

“He eagled the 16th hole to square things up,” said Kanda, who was the second seed in the 2007 event before losing in the first round of match play. “I had just made a 20 footer for birdie with a great put on 15th.”

A good start also aided Kanda.

Kanda, 22, built a three-stroke lead through four holes. He birdied each of those holes, while Duncan, 21, had one par and three bogeys.

“He had a rough start, but he came back,” Kanda said. “I was able to then go 2 up through 10 holes.

“I hit some good chip and bunker shots. In match play, anything can happen. My short game kept me in it.”

Now, Kanda will compete against Woods for the first time.

“I don’t know anything about him,” Kanda said. “That’s fine because it really doesn’t make a difference.”

Defending champion Nick Delio, who is looking to become the first player to repeat as champion since 1955, will also move on to the second round of match play. Delio and Kanda will be joined by Geoff Gonzalez, Matt Grush, Josh Anderson, Jeffrey Oxanaboure, Martin Trainer, Sam Smith, Jason Bittick, EJ Kahn, Micah Burke, Kevin Fryer, Scott Travers, Jeff Wilson and Grant Rappleye.

The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held Friday. The 36-hole championship round will take place Saturday, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

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