George Gandranata wins 83rd Alameda Commuters Golf Tournament
By Mike Maurice
After 72 holes of play in this year’s Alameda Commuters, reigning 2009 NCGA champion and 2010 San Francisco City champion George Gandranata can now add 2010 Alameda Commuters champion to his growing list of championships won after firing 67 on Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead over four-time Alameda Commuters champion Rick Reinsberg.
Gandranata blistered the front nine of the Earl Fry course by going out in 31. His five under front nine extended his lead to five over Reinsberg and seven over Kevin Wentworth with nine holes to play. At 14 under, another solid nine holes of golf would had put the Commuters tournament record within reach. In 2002, Matt Bettencourt fired 18 under 266 to win the Commuters.
A Gandranata bogey at 10 cut the lead to four, but his crisp iron play and rock solid putting held this lead ’til 15. This par 3 signature hole on the Earl Fry Course was set up to test the players all three rounds on the Fry. PGA professional Jack Cummings felt that a 227 yard front pin would be a good best test on a windy day and that’s what faced the players on Sunday.
Each year the players play rounds three and four from the “Commuters tee,” which lengthens the hole by an additional 30 yards. This tee is fondly known as “the pimple.” As in many “Commuters” of championships past, this hole can produce some great golf drama.
With the tournament basically a two-man battle between Gandranata, the young lion, and Reinsberg, the wise veteran of many championships, both players hit wayward approach shots. With Gandranata’s bogey and a clutch par putt by Reinsberg, the gap closed to three strokes. Another bogey by Gandranata at 16 could have had huge impact when Reinsberg’s approach landed 15 feet from the hole, however Reinsberg’s 15-footer for birdie slid past the hole and he settled for par. What was once a five-stroke lead was now cut to two with two holes to go. On the short 275-yard par 4 17th, Gandranata chipped his ball to feet, from about 10 yards off the green. Reinsberg’s difficult 20-yard bunker shot sailed over the green.
Gandranata’s birdie and Reinsberg’s bogey, with Gandranata’s now four-stroke lead going into the 72nd hole, sealed the tournament for this former Cal golfer. His 72-hole score of 271, 13 under par, is one of the better scores of the past five years and a fine example of how well he plays.
Rounding out the Top 10, Reinsberg finished second at 9 under 275 and Scott Olds, who never got it going Sunday, fired an up and down round of 71 to finish third, at six under 278. Tying for fourth place were Kevin Lucas 68/280 and Josh Stone 67/280. Both players posted exceptional rounds on Sunday against the firm and fats conditions.
Sixth place finishers were Patrick Grimes 71/281, Matt Hansen 68/281, Domingo Jojola 69/71 and Kevin Wentworth 71/73. And Alameda junior golf club member and former San Francisco City champ Carlos Briones finished 10th, with a final round 73/282, a two under par finish.
In Senior action, defending champion Jim Knoll is now two-time Alameda Commuters Senior champion. Knoll, fired an even par 71 to finish at 138, one of the lower senior scores in the past seven years.
Knoll finished ahead of two-time past Alameda Commuters champion Jeff Burda and three-time past Alameda Commuters champion and 2007 Alameda Commuters Senior champion Gary Vanier. Both players shared runner-up honors at 142. Alameda’s Mark Merrigan finished at 151 to place 17th.
Six-time Commuters Champion Bob Blomberg, who is resting nicely in his hospital bed, had photos and score updates texted to his cell phone as the finals rounds progressed. Bob, who is doing quite well, had said “this is way better than watching Golf Channel!”
Frank Albelda of Alameda took some photos of some of the players last Sunday during their round action. Albelda is currently studying photography online with the New York Institute of Photography and one of the projects was to take action photos of the 83rd Alameda Commuters Golf Tournament.
The link below is a Flickr account where I posted these photos and you are welcome to share them.
You can also find the Alameda Commuters on Facebook, and look at photos, stories and video at ALAMEDA GOLF TOURNAMENT.
Once again, players were greeted with firm, fast greens and tucked pins all four rounds. With these great conditions, the Alameda Commuters would like to thank Kemper Sports for their partnership in helping the 40-man Alameda Commuters Committee run this great championship.
Check out all the scores and action by clicking The Island’s Commuters tab under “Special Reports.”