Matt Matarrese, representing Birch Ridge Golf Course, highlighted a solid showing by area golfers at the Alaska State Amateur Championship by losing in the match-play finals to Anchorage's Greg Sanders Sunday at Eagleglen Golf Course.
Matarrese lost 2 and 1 to Sanders, meaning he was two holes down with one to play. Matarrese had reached the finals by defeating Donald A. Grasse 2 and 1, by defeating David Barber 4 and 3 and by defeating Mark McMahan 3 and 2.
Chris Sonnichsen, representing Kenai Golf Course, was the 13th seed out of 16 golfers. Sonnichsen still made it to the semifinals by defeating Adam Baxter 3 and 2 and by defeating David Hamilton in 19 holes. Sonnichsen then hung tough with Sanders in the semifinals before losing 2 and 1.
The other area player in the men's matches was Josh Lansing, representing Birch Ridge Golf Course. Lansing lost in the first round to Benji R. Sumulong, 3 and 2.
The lone woman from the area was Kenai Golf Course's Paula Crowley. Crowley was seeded sixth out of eight golfers, but defeated Mindy Stefanski in the first round in 19 holes. Crowley then lost to Allegra Butler in the semifinals, 3 and 2.
In the men's final, Matarrese got off to a tough start, going 3-down to Sanders after the first five holes.
Matarrese got all the way back to even with a 20-footer for birdie on No. 14, but Matarrese bogeyed No. 15 and Sanders birdied No. 16 to go back to 2-up.
Matarrese knew he would need a birdie to stay alive on No. 17. He said he hit the approach shot he wanted from 170 yards, but the shot got caught in some casual water at the front of the green, meaning Matarrese needed to hole a 20-foot chip to stay alive. He missed the chip.
"I wanted to win very badly," Matarrese said. "From talking to everybody, Greg Sanders is the best player in the state, pros or amateurs.
"I hoped that when I got back to even, I could beat him. I think I used so much energy getting back to even that I had a brain lapse on 15 and three-putted."
Despite the loss, Matarrese is still happy with his game as he heads down to College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., for his second season of golf at the junior college.
After finishing at College of the Desert, Matarrese would like to keep playing college golf. He already has an invitation to play at California State University, Monterey Bay. When he heads back down to school in a week, Matarrese also said he has a meeting scheduled with UCLA.
"I feel that right now with the way I'm hitting the ball, if I step up my putting I'll be right there," Matarrese said.
Matarrese said that it's tough to break into higher levels of golf after having grown up in Alaska.
"When you go Outside and say you're from Alaska and play golf they don't take you seriously," he said. "I feel like I have to play catch-up.
"It's only my third year playing year-round, so it's my year to make a move."
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