On a picture postcard afternoon on California’s Monterey Peninsula, Isaiah Salinda blistered a 4-iron 218 yards into a slight breeze on the par-5 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
“We were hitting directly into the sun, and I couldn’t see where it went,” he said. “So I said to my caddie, ‘Where is that?’”
His second shot landed just left-center of the green, stopping 20 feet from the hole. From there, he two-putted for birdie to win the hole and his Round of 16 match 1-up against national championship veteran Stewart Hagestad.
Salinda, playing in his first U.S. Amateur after earning medalist honors in a sectional qualifier, will now advance to the quarterfinals of the 2018 U.S. Amateur, being held this week at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Three weeks ago, the San Francisco native and Stanford University senior won the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, held at The Olympic Club. He likes home cooking.
Salinda started playing at age 5, when his father Tony brought him to the public Golden Gate Park Golf Course. “That’s where he learned,” Tony said. “We drove him around to all the local public courses, and he started getting better and better.”
So much better that a family friend sponsored him as a junior member at The Olympic Club. “That was a game-changer for us,” Tony said. “Olympic became his home course. Now he could start playing all the nice courses in the area.” Now that he is 21, he has become a member at the California Golf Club, which is just five minutes from his home in South San Francisco.
Isaiah’s parents, Tony and Debbie, have been following him around all week, through stroke play and now match play.
“The game has been so good for him,” Debbie says. “When he was young I drove him wherever he wanted to go play golf. I don’t play golf like Tony does, so that was my contribution to Isaiah.”
Isaiah would go on to star on the boys’ golf team at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, where he was the first freshman in school history to be voted team MVP. He would go on the win the 2013 West Catholic Athletic League individual title and voted the league’s Player of the Year.
Once in college, he continued to star, winning the 2017 Northern California Amateur, 2016 San Jose City Championship, all to go along with his title at the 2018 Pacific Coast Amateur.
On a roll, indeed.