Kevin Klabunde and Amanda Nealy each have won multiple Southern Oregon Golf Championships, but it's unlikely the paths to them started as difficultly as this year's did.
Both Klabunde and Nealy overcame tough opponents on the first day of match play at Rogue Valley Country Club Thursday.
Klabunde, who is one of three players who have won the men's regular, junior-senior and senior titles in the 82-year history of the tournament, defeated Jerry Eklund, 4 and 2.
Nealy, who claimed women's titles in 2000 and '92, downed 2008 champion Trina Jones, 2 and 1.
Klabunde is bidding for his third straight senior championship. He also won the 2001 men's regular crown and junior-senior titles in 1996 and '98.
Ed Godden and George Mack Sr. — who also has captured the only two super-senior championships — are the others to sweep the three longest-standing men's divisions.
"It wasn't exactly my first choice for first-round opponents," said Klabunde of Eklund. "When you're the defending champion, you'd like to have a little more of a walk in the park if you can, but I knew it would not be that way with Jerry because he's a heck of a player."
In other matches, there were a couple notable upsets, with Ryan Hawkins, runner-up in the men's regular last year, losing 1 down to R. O. Gamez, and Kelly Loeb, the 2011 women's champion, falling to Calista Crenshaw, 1 down.
In other men's regular matches, defending champion Kevin Murphy defeated Alfanso Powers, 6 and 5; Brooks Newsom and Mike Barry, each three-time winners, triumphed easily; and Brandon Taylor, who won last week's city championship, posted a 1-up win over Justin Azevedo.
In junior-senior men, brothers Kevin and Todd Dixon went at it, with Kevin winning on the 19th hole; Tommy Smith, a three-time winner in the regular division, won 4 and 2 over Mark Holden; and Brad Bills downed Jim Mansfield, 2 and 1.
Men's super-senior winners included two-time defending champion Mack, Bob Maentz, Dan Dixon and Bob Harrell.
Eklund's handicap index is 3.0, and his qualifying round was much better than the 83 that was posted — because he was assessed eight penalty strokes for hitting from the wrong tees. He was the last player to make it into the championship division, hence his matchup with the top-seeded Klabunde.
In qualifying on Tuesday, Eklund played five holes from the gold tees, rather than the blues, as seniors were supposed to. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty for four instances. The fifth wasn't an infraction because the blues and golds were together on a par 3.
Klabunde is on the tournament committee and helps with pairings. He was in the "war room" when it was determined one of three players who qualified with 83s would make it into the championship bracket.
"I didn't know who it was going to be, but I knew who I didn't want to play," said Klabunde, "because he can light it up. So it was a little disheartening to have such a tough first-round match. I told my wife at the beginning it could certainly go either way very easily and I could be playing in the first flight (with a loss) instead of the championship. I have a lot of respect for his game."
Eklund got off to an early lead when Klabunde couldn't find his tee shot on the first hole. He assumed it was lodged high in a tree and had to re-hit. He still had a 20-foot par putt that would have halved the hole but missed it.
Birdies at Nos. 6 and 8 — they were among five Klabunde had on the day — helped him take a 2-up lead after nine. Wins at 10 and 11, where he stuffed his tee shot to 4 feet on the par 3, got him on his way, and he closed out with a birdie on No. 16.
Klabunde placed second in the RVCC club championships in the men's division and made a point of gearing up for the SOGC, playing often in the couple weeks leading up to it.
"I wanted to have a reasonable amount of confidence in my swing and know where my ball was going," he said.
Nealy seemed to know where her ball was going. She made six birdies and needed every one of them to dispatch Jones in a tightly-contested match.
The women play a round robin, the first time Nealy has experienced it. She missed last year when the format was instituted as a way to deal with smaller fields.
"It makes it so that the Thursday matches are tough," she said.
Nealy is from Grants Pass but lives in Baton Rouge, La., where Hurricane Isaac is making a mess of things. When she played here in 2005, a year after she moved to Louisiana, Katrina was tearing up the landscape. Three years later, Gustav hit the same week as the SOGC.
The damage isn't as bad this time around, she said, but she did bring her dog with her as a precaution.
"It plowed right through Baton Rouge," said Nealy. "I think we got 20 inches of rain, but it was nothing like what you've seen on TV, with the evacuations. There's just a lot of water that needs to go away."
That's something Jones didn't do.
"We played great," said Nealy.
Jones chipped in on No. 2 for birdie, then followed with birdies on the next two holes to go 3 up.
"I'm 1 over and 3 down," said Nealy. "I thought, 'This is not going well for me.'"
She reeled off birdies at Nos. 6, 7 and 8, however, to get back to even.
Two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 left her 1 up. They were all square before Nealy birdied the 16th. A bogey by Jones on the next hole ended the match.
"I don't remember the last time I made six birdies around here," said Nealy.
Match play continues today through Monday, when championships will be decided in all divisions.
S.O. Golf Championships
MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Kevin Murphy def. Alfanso Powers 6 & 5, Edward Pulpan def. Adam Huycke 5 & 4, Daniel Wozniak def. Alex Hobson 1-up, Jimmy White def. Bryan Brutke 2 & 1, Brooks Newsom def. Kevin Blum 5 & 4, Joey Rossknecht def. Jeffrey Morgan 4 & 3, Will Street def. Taylor Garbutt 2 & 1, Brandon Taylor def. Justin Azevedo 1-up, Mike Barry def. Kelly Owen 6 & 5, John Warner def. Ryan Schaefer 1-up, Daniel Schuler def. Justin Duncan 4 & 3, Travis Brink def. Michael Standfield 2 & 1, R. Owens def. Brandon Crosier 1-up, R.O. Gamez def. Ryan Hawkins 1-up, Jon Robinson def. Brandon Fields 3-1, Thomas Avalon def. David Mayer 1-up.
MEN'S SECOND FLIGHT
Taylor Klemp def. Michael Boffing 1-up, Jamie Burton def. Justin Wise 1-up, Mark Wilson def. Orette Facey 3 & 2, Jerry Johnson def. Jake Grondin 2 & 1, Erik Hill def. Eric Engelbach 4 & 3, Trevor Telford def. Mike Payne 6 & 4, Jeremy Burrows def. Benjamin Wright 2-up, Ty Kohler vs. Charlie Moore 1-up 21st.
MEN'S FOURTH FLIGHT
Jordan Anderson def. Steve Bernard, M. Eschenbacher def. Derron Moreland 1-up, Bobby Foote def. James Jones 5 & 4, Matt Stringer def. Ryan Kantor 3 & 2, Jeff Barry def. Tony Fazzolari 1-up, Michael Richardson def. Jonathan Portz 2 & 1, Tom Leavens def. Rick Nelson 2 & 1, Ryan Suvoy def. Curtis Wagoner 1-up.
MEN'S SIXTH FLIGHT
Chad Cota def. Brian Carr 7 & 6, Erik Baker def. Brady Rice 2 & 1, Joe Arnesen def. Collin Krueger 4 & 3, David Cuttrell def. Chase Schumacher 1-up, John Murphy Jr. def. Jonathan Purtzer 4 & 3, Alan DeCourcey def. Ralph Wallis III 2-up, Scott Weiland def. Scott Hansen 5 & 4, Cody Stover def. Darrell Flora Jr. 7 & 6.
MEN'S EIGHTH FLIGHT
Jon Ausland def. Thomas Hamlin 6-up, Steve Ferreira def. Andy McHugh 2 & 1, Daryn Clark def. Dave Barney 2 & 1, Rick Lozano def. Greg Jacobs 4 & 3, Phillip Heiner def. Craig Brown 1-up, Matt Hansen def. Richard Buchler 2 & 1, Josh Huffman def. Jim Corbett 3 & 2, William Riddle def. Don Shanklin 5-up.
MEN'S TENTH FLIGHT
Scott Entinger def. Steve Mast 2 & 1, John Hernandez def. Jim Stormo 3 & 2, Jad Dickson def. Lynn Knight 4 & 2, Scott Sterton def. Matthew Danniken 1-up, Tanner Lawton def. Nic Corbett 1-up, Kevin Anderson def. Scott Anderson 5 & 4, Scott Anderson def. Jeremy Ross 3-up, Chris Miller def. Josh Godfrey 1-up.
JR./SR. CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Brad Bills def. J. Mansfield 2 & 1, Marty Morlan def. David Culbertson 1-up, Geoff Loomis def. Brett Breeze 19th, Jay Klemp def. Joel Jessel 3 & 2, Tim Trower def. Steve Taormino 2 & 1, Hank Munn def. Rick McCabe 2 & 1, Don Gorman def. Bret DeForest 1-up, Bob Sprenkel def. Dale Eklund 4 & 2, Erick Doolen def. Todd Neilson 2 & 1, Jim Anderson def. Tom Pepple 2 & 1, Gary Sterton def. Jason Cox 1up, Tim Hornecker def. Scott Moore 1-up, Eric Hansen def. Brooks Gard 3 & 2, Keith Dierkes def. Derek Davis 4 & 3, Kevin Dixon def. Todd Dixon 1-up 19th, Tommy Smith def. Mark Holden 4 & 2.
Kevin Klabunde def. Jerry Eklund 1-up, Bob Capsey def. Jim Multerer 6 & 5, Alex Merkner def. Bob Crews 2 & 1, Robert Tennant def. Tommy Powley 1-up, Mark Wilsoon def. Howard Hunt 3-up, Robert Stassi def. Mark Weiss 6 & 5, Bob Cox def. Terry Anderson 3 & 2, P. Daggitt def. Billy Crenshaw 2 & 1, Glen Clark def. Gary Loeb 2 & 1, Doug Ward def. Ken Stringer 1-up, Chet Gonczeruk def. Larry Garvin 1-up, Robert Husel def. Bill Allen 1-up, Steven Wood def. Jim McCabe 7 & 6, Greg Miller def. Brian Odell 4 & 3, M. Holman def. Bill Drewien 1-up, Craig Galpern def. Mel Friend 5 & 4.
SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Norm Veronneau def. Dennis Slattery 3-up, Ron Howard def. Roger Peck 5 & 4, Dane Smith def. Terry Smith 2-up, Mark Slezak def. Wayne Van Wey 2up, Steve Ausland def. Warren Wagner 4 & 3, Ron Harvey def. M. Gleason 2 & 1, Ron Lewis def. Peter Grosslight 3 & 2, Gary Gage def. Scott Weaver 4 & 3.
SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Scott Mayfield def. Nick Hodel 1-up, Billy Bednar def. Terry Buntin 4 & 3, Bernie Frasier def. Thomas Purtzer 10 & 8, Scott Swendiman def. Gary Glass 2 & 1, Mark Artner def. Chuck Bork 2 & 1, Scott McGeary def. Gary Bates 4 & 3, Wm Milimuka def. Rick Holcom 4 & 3, Brent Orrico def. Doug Hartley 1-up.
SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT
Dan Fowler def. John Watt 4 & 3, Ed Knight def. Lee Fortier 1-up, Craig Prewitt def. Jim Zauher 2-up, Don Pinkham def. Darrell Flora Sr. 3 & 2, Joe Hubbard def. Ron Moore 2-up, Cliff Barnett def. Tom Groves 1-up, Jim Hauck def. Dan Kosmatka 4 & 3, Henry Burgoyne def. Scott Lubich 3-up.
SUPER SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
George Mack def. R. Hassman 2 & 1, Dodd Samuel def. James Achenbach 4 & 3, Terry Newsom def. John Dunkin 1-up, Tom Fischer def. Dick Brekke 4 & 3, Bob Maentz def. Fred Ferreira 3 & 1, Dan Dixon def. Ken Bailey 3 & 2, Bob Harrell def. Thad Hodgdon 2 & 1, Bruce Hanson def. Al Raduski 1-up.
SUPER SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
David Rasmussen def. Dick Kari 3 & 2, W. Towe def. C. Jan Garner 1-up, Ron Dixon def. Fuzz Primasing 1-up, S. Warrington def. George Parsons 1-up, Michael Travato def. Robert Methvin 6 &5, M. Goldman def. Dick Sorenson 1-up, James Ramsden def. G. Carrigan 6 & 5, John Root def. Howard Phearson 4 & 3.
SUPER SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
Bob Hutchins def. Joe Sayre 1-up, Ken Gilmore def. Bob Reed 3 & 2, Pat Iribarren def. Ronald Van Vleet 2 & 1, John Anhorn def. Bob Rickabaugh 1-up 20th , Tom Barry def. Phil Gossner 1up, Ray Smith def. James Adamson 1-up, Roger Dawes def. Don Todd 1-up, Bob Ferrari def. Bob Glover 2 & 1.
WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Calista Crenshaw def. Kelly Loeb 1up, Amanda Nealy def. Trina Jones 2 & 1., Tiffany Schoning 3 & 2, Amy Anderson def. Nettie Morrison 5 & 3.
WOMEN'S FIRST FLIGHT
Tracie Armitage def. Julia Tissen 1-up, Lori Humphrey def. M. McFaddin 1-up, Jennifer Ausland def. Leslie Gainey 2-up, Makenna Clark def. Melinda Heiner 2 & 1.
WOMEN'S SECOND FLIGHT
Eillen Whitten def. Heather Wise 3 & 2, Barbara Stormo def. Lindsey Stockton 1-up, Tonia Husel def. Bridgitte Griffin 5 & 3, Cathy Trower def. Cortney Hall 4 & 3.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com