Jerome Kersey has found that golf fans, for the most part, are an understanding lot.
When the former Portland Trail Blazer star hits a squirrelly shot, they are easy on him.
"People go, 'That's OK,'" said Kersey, "'You didn't play professional golf. You're a basketball player.'"
His friend, Nick Hodel, noted that people recognized Kersey's former vocation as he made his way around the Rogue Valley Country Club course Wednesday during qualifying for the 83rd Southern Oregon Golf Championships.
"A lot of people came up and shook his hand today and said thanks for playing basketball," said Hodel.
Speaking of bad shots, there were a few from Kersey. A 12-handicap player out of Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland — where Hodel also plays — he struggled through one of his poorest outings in a while and shot 100.
Of his previous 13 posted scores, 12 were in the 80s and the other in the low 90s.
Kersey is in the men's junior-senior division.
Qualifying for women and out-of-town men took place Wednesday. It was held for local men on Tuesday.
Brooks Newsom, a three-time winner in the men's regular division, shot 71, tying RVCC member Richard Owens for medalist honors.
Also in the men's division Wednesday, Taylor Garbutt and Jon Robinson shot 72s.
In men's junior-senior, Brooks Gard topped out-of-town scores with a 73.
Mark Wilson shot a 71 for the best men's senior score of the day.
On the women's side, Tiffany Schoning earned medalist with a 71, followed by Nettie Morrison's 72 in the regular division.
In women's senior, Debbie Cordell's 78 topped the field.
Ties for medalist will be broken by a three-hole playoff on Friday, a change over the nine-hole format of previous years.
Kersey was a second-round pick of the Blazers in 1984 and played 17 NBA seasons, 11 of them with Portland.
Regarded by many as the best small forward in franchise history — he was in the top five in most major statistical categories when he moved on — Kersey averaged 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in 1987-88 and helped the Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1990 and '92.
Hodel is the father of Medford's Andrea Murphy, and Kersey is her godfather.
Hodel invited Kersey to join him in the tournament, in which match play begins today and runs through Monday.
"I heard it was a great event," Kersey said after his round Wednesday. "This is the first time I've played in anything like this. This is kind of a different breed. There's a lot of competitors."
The field of 408 is the largest since 2008, when a full field of 416 players participated.
Kersey travels around a lot, doing marketing and public relations work for the Blazers. He also is involved in free kids clinics the franchise conducts throughout the state.
He doesn't usually travel to play golf, he said, but he's used to playing in front of crowds. He was in Peter Jacobsen's Umpqua Bank Challenge on Monday.
Some fans do expect a lot, said Kersey.
"It's amazing how some people think that because you're a professional athlete, you're probably going to hit every shot straight," he laughed. "But it's fun when people are there and they're watching you. I think your expectation level of yourself goes up. You're going to play better, you're going to concentrate a little bit more. It's great when they applaud when you hit a great shot."
Kersey thought his game was in good shape when he came to Medford.
He putted for eagle on the par-5 first hole, settling for birdie, and parred the second. Disaster struck on the par-3 fourth when he found himself left of the green and having to hit over a cart path and bunker and under a tree. He took a 7.
"I just have to refocus and come back and play a little better tomorrow," he said. "The par 3 took a little life out of me. It kind of just lent itself to a lot of other stuff. But, you know, the greens are tough here. You've got to put it in the fairway and once you get to the greens, you've got to put the ball in spots where you cannot afford to three-putt."
Kersey has the day off today and will play his first match at 7:24 a.m. Friday against Alex Mann of Medford. They are in the fourth flight of the junior-senior division.
S.O. Golf Championship
Qualifying for women and out-of-town men
Brooks Newsom 71, Taylor Garbutt 72, Jon Robinson 72, Ryan Hawkins 74, Joey Rossknect 74, Brandon Taylor 74, Adam Huckye 75, Edward Puplan III 75, Ryan Schaeffer 75, R.O. Gomez 76, Brandon Fields 78, Jeremy Burrows 81, Ty Kohler 82, Jon Ausland 83, Rick Nelson 83, Charlie Moore 84, Jonathan Portz 84,Matthew Eschenbacher 86, Josh Huffman 86, Darron Moreland 86, Ralph Wallis III 87, Eric Baker 88, Alan Decourcey 88, Michael Richardson 88, James Jones 89, William Riddle 89, Scott Entinger 90, Richard Buchler 90, Tony Fazzolari 91, Collin Krueger 93, Don Shanklin 94, Scott Anderson 95, Rick Lozano 95, Jad Dickson 96, Scott Sterton 97, Chris Miller 98, Daryn Clark 99, John Hernandez 99, Jim Stormo 100, Jim Corbett 101, Steven (Craig) Brown 101, Lynn Knight 104, Nic Corbett 106, Steve Mast 117.
Brooks Gard 73, Don Gorman 75, Steve Taormino 75, Gary Sterton 76, Timothy Hornecker 77, Tommy Smith 77, Bob Sprenkel 78, Joe Jessel 82, Geoff Loomis 82, Scott Moore 82, Erick Doolen 83, Erik Hansen 83, Glen Kilroy 83, Jim Mansfield 83, Bud Bowie 84, Steve Connell 87, Gregg Hall 87, James Parsley 87, Michael Diehl 89, Les Cracraft 90, Tom Jones 90, Matt Sorenson 90, Kevin Jones 91, Jack Lewis 92, Christian Carrigan 95, Lance Hunter 96, Jim Retzlaff 97, Mike Snyder 99, Jerome Kersey 100, John Hall 102.
Mark Wilson 71, Chet Gonczeruk 77, Alex Merkner 77, Jim Multerer79, Brian Odell 79, Doug Ward 79, Robert Tennant 81, Gary Loeb 82, Warren Wagner 83, Mark Slezak 84, Mark Artner 85, William Milimuka 85, Marshall Gleason 86, Doug Heatherington 86, Ron Howard 86, Brad Heilman 87, Brent Orrico 87, Roger Peck 87, Scott McGeary 88, Chuck Carnese 89, Mark Fawver 89, Darrell Hunt 89, Steve Ausland 90, Ralph Perry 91, Scot Swendiman 91, Kevin Aguirre 93, Al Proctor 95, Nick Hodel 96, Cliff Barnett 97, Henry Burgoyne 97, Ed Knight 97, Tom Groves 98, Jim Zauher 100, Jim Hauck 102.
Samuel Dodd 81, James Achenbach 82, Tom Fischer 83, Terry Newson 83, Rick Hassman 84, Bruce McDonald 84, Michael Miller 84, Harvey Meyers 85, Dick Entinger 86, Dave Mansfield 87, Gary Mann 89, James Ramsden 89, George Parsons 90, John Root 91, Mike Anthony 92, Wendall Towe 93, Roger Dawes 94, Pat Iribarren 94, Richard Sorenson 94, Howard Phearson 95, Fuzz Primasing 97, Kenneth Gilmore 98, James Adamson 99, Bob Ferrari 103, Ronald Van Vleet 105.
Tiffany Schoning 71, Nettie Morrison 72, Amanda Nealy 74, Trina Jones 76, Tracie Armitage 83, Terry Levis 83, Jennifer Ausland 85, Calista Crenshaw 89, Maureen McFadden 91, Makenna Clark 97, Lori Humphrey 97, Tonia Husel 97, Barbara Stormo 98, Lindsey Stockton 100, Leslie Gainey 102, Cortney Hall 103, Julia Tissen 103, Bridgette Griffin 105.
Debbie Cordell 78, Barbara Pinkham 86, Shelley Lehrkind 87, Cynthia Fortier 88, Teri Mayer, Claudia Robbs 89, Janet Stark 89, Tory Nieto 90, Sue Hunter 91, Marianne Metzger 91, Annette Van Daam 91, Tina Blum 92, Deb Stuart 92, Dana Carrigan 94, Gail Jones 94, Allison Meyers 94, Peggy Tomlins 94, Janet Selby-Hughes 95, Janis Crenshaw 96, Cathy Dunlap 96, Alice Hunt 96, Rosemary Harrington 97, LeAnn Lofton 97, Sharon Swartsley 97 Sharon Krauss 98, Nancy Gish 99, Sandra Wagner 99, Maggie Kilroy 103, Coral Edwards 105.
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