As an optometrist, Craig Steinberg has made a career of vision. But even he hadn't seen anything quite like what happened Tuesday in the 78th California Golf Assn. Amateur championship at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Steinberg, of Van Nuys, shot a 72 to go with his opening-round 70 and earned third-place medalist honors. Steinberg is the 1988 Southern California Amateur champion and he, along with SCGA Mid-Amateur champion Buz Greene of Thousand Oaks, were the only local players to survive the two-round stroke play portion of the tournament. Both were to begin match play this morning.
And so will Gary Vanier of Pleasant Hill. He will be the one wearing the red face.
Vanier accomplished something that even veteran observers at the state amateur had never seen. He shot two brilliant rounds of golf during stroke play and finished in a tie at 141 on Tuesday with Jerry Michals of Vista for the prestigious stroke-play championship.
A playoff was quickly organized to determine the champion.
And Vanier vanished.
"He knew about the playoff, and then he was gone," a tournament spokesman said. "No one has any idea where he went."
After waiting about a half-hour on the tee, officials awarded the championship to Michals.
Another golfer, Randy Haag of Danville, the runner-up in last year's state amateur, made a similar mistake. He finished at 148--making the cut--but nine players at that score were forced into a playoff for eight remaining positions. Haag made the process simpler for everyone by not showing up for the playoff, which guaranteed the other eight golfers a spot in match play and him an early trip home.
And, to cap a zany day, Steve Bogan of Los Angeles, who shot a 71 on Monday and was tied for third place, was late for his tee time Tuesday and was forced to tee off alone. He was several minutes behind his group and was forced to play hurry-up golf. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty for missing his tee time.
Despite the distractions, Bogan shot a round of 70 and would have tied Michals as medalist. With the penalty, however, he finished at 143 and captured only fourth, behind Michals and Vanier and Steinberg. What should have been a three-way playoff became a no-way playoff.
Steinberg, 30, who played golf for four years at USC, made it to the quarterfinals of match play in the 1988 state amateur. He reached the semifinals in 1982. This is his 10th appearance in the tournament.
Greene, who shot a sizzling 69 on Monday at Cypress Point to lead all golfers, stumbled Tuesday to a 78 on the par-70 Monterey Country Club layout. His 36-hole score of 147 moved him into today's match play by just one stroke.
Darryl Erlandson of Camarillo shot a 77 on Tuesday to go with an opening-round 77 and missed the cut by six strokes. Chris Zambri of Thousand Oaks shot a 76 and also finished out of match play with a total of 154. Mitch Voges of Simi Valley shot a 72 on Tuesday, but he had opened with a 79 and missed the cut with a score of 151.
And Don Parsons of Santa Barbara, the defending champion, followed Monday's dismal round of 83 with a 74 and finished far off the cut at 157.