It's only Day 2 of match play at the Southern Oregon Golf Championships, but a pair of former titlists will go at it in the men's senior division today.
Mark Wilson, the defending champion from Oakland, Ore., defeated Ron Howard, 2 and 1, Thursday, and Alex Merkner, playing in the same foursome as Wilson, downed Scott Mayfield on the 19th hole.
Merkner, from Napa, Calif., captured the men's junior-senior crown in 2007.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Wilson, a former star athlete at Ashland High who later had a long teaching and coaching career at Oakland High. "Match play is fun. It's a different game all together. Somewhere along the line, golf became a team sport with all the scrambles and best-balls. This is an individual tournament. It's fun because you don't have too many tournaments like that. You have to play your bad shots. Golf was meant to be played that way."
There were good shots and bad shots all over the 27-hole layout as play stretched from dawn to dusk.
In other men's senior action, medalist Marty Morlan and former junior-senior winner Glen Clark will take on each other today. Morlan topped Chet Gonczeruk, 1 up, and Clark dispatched Terry Buntin, 1 up.
In other divisions, men's defending champion Kevin Murphy cruised to a 5-and-4 victory over Tom Leavens, and three-time winners Mike Barry and Brooks Newsom advanced.
Barry, who built an early three-hole lead on the front side, needed a birdie on the 18th to fend off J.T. Compher, 1 up. Newsom topped Matt Stringer, 5 and 4.
A couple of men's matches went an extra hole, including Jimmy White's win over Joey Rossknecht, a semifinalist last year. White tied for medalist honors and will play off for that distinction today against Ryan Hawkins.
In the men's junior-senior division, defending champion Don Gorman scored a 1-up victory over Mark Hash, and wins by Kevin Klabunde and Ken Stringer set up another battle of former junior-senior champions. Klabunde beat Geoff Loomis, 2 and 1, and Stringer downed Dennis Richards, 1 up.
In the men's super-senior division, defending champion George Mack downed Tom Hamlin, 2 and 1. Doug Olson, Dan Dixon and John Dunkin were among the other victors.
In the women's division, Trina Jones upended Toni Doolen, 3 and 2, while Kelly Loeb, the titlist in 2010 and '11, defeated Kathy Pauck, 5 and 4. Christina Phelps, the Rogue Valley Stroke Play champion, was a 2-and-1 winner over Lori Humphrey.
The women's senior division didn't play, but Claudia Robbs, who tied Nancy Moore for the low qualifying score, emerged as medalist following a three-hole playoff.
Wilson has only recently reacquainted himself with the SOGC. He played in it when he was about 21, then stayed away until just three years ago.
What he remembers about that first experience was losing to John Nuich on the 16th hole in either the semifinals or quarterfinals.
"He eagled it to beat me 3 and 2," said Wilson.
Wilson played baseball at UNLV, then in the Minnesota Twins' farm system for a few years.
He played golf while growing up in California, but didn't really take to it until he was out of school.
Wilson, who captured the men's senior title in the Rogue Valley Stroke Play on Sunday, taught middle school in Ashland for three years, then moved to Oakland, where he taught and coached a variety of sports for 27 years.
He didn't get back into the SOGC, he said, because he was always busy with school. He retired in 2007.
His match against Howard was close much of the way.
"He played solid," said Wilson. "He got it up and down a lot."
Wilson three-putted to lose the first hole, then got it back with a par on the second.
He made birdies at Nos. 3 and 6 to take a 1-up lead. On the first, he hit a 9-iron to about 3 feet on the par 4, then on the sixth, he made a 15-footer.
Wilson's lead was two holes through 13, and it stayed there as he and Howard halved out.
Wilson doesn't feel pressure to defend his title.
"It's just nice to be able to play golf and have fun," he said. "It might get a little tight toward the end."
Merkner didn't have his best game on Thursday. That might not do today against Wilson.
"I'm going to have to play much better tomorrow," said Merkner. "He's a good player. He knows the place real well. It'll be a tough match, but I'll give it all I've got. Maybe I'll work out a few kinks on the driving range. We'll see."
His driver was his Achille's heel, but other aspects of his game betrayed him, too.
"I didn't have anything today," he said, "but unfortunately, I don't think my opponent was on top of his game."
Tied after 18, Merkner and Mayfield went back to the 17th hole for a playoff.
Merkner hit a good drive this time, leaving himself 121 yards. After his approach, he still had a 45-foot putt, he said. He missed it 4 feet long and had a tricky, curvy, downhill comebacker that he drained for par. Mayfield made bogey.
Match play continues today through Monday, when champions in all divisions will be crowned.
Southern Oregon Golf Championships
MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP — Kevin Murphy def. Tom Leavens 5 & 4, David Cuttrell def. Jake Quast 2 & 1, Ryan Schaefer def. Drew Telford 1-up, Steve Taormino def. Derek Zwagerman 4 & 2, Jon Robinson def. Robert Galli 4 & 3, Trevor Telford def. Brandon Crosier 18th, Scott Wise df. Ryan Kantor 1-up, Brooks Newsom def. Matt Stringer 5 & 4, Jimmy White def. Joey Rossknecht 19th, Kevin Wu def. Jon Portz 1-up, Mark Wilson def. Daniel Wozniak 19th, Daniel Schuler def Edward Pulpan, 3 & 1, Ryan Hawkins def. rich Owens 5 & 4, Michael Payne def. Jerom Gilbert 4 & 3, Thomas Avalon def. Bobby Foote 5 & 4, Mike Barry def. J.T. Compher 1-up.
MEN'S SECOND FLIGHT — Tyler Shelton def. Joey Walker 3-up, Alex Hobson def. Craig Smith 2 & 1, Jay Klemp def. Justin Wise 1-up, Dave Judd def. Jesse Taylor 1-up, Justin Azevedo def. Darrell Flora Jr. 1-up, Brandon Chun def. Robert Husel 6 & 5, Jason Caplan def. Eric Engelbach 2-up, Ryan Suvoy def. Adam Huycke 1-up.
MEN'S FOURTH FLIGHT — Orette Facey def. Sean McGlinn 6 & 5, Mat Eschenbacher def. Jordan Anderson 1-up, David Mayer def. Eric Ford 1-up, Ray Cox def. Jonathan Purtzer 19th, Michael Richardson def. Brady Inn 3 & 2, Eric Linerud def. Nick Linerud 6 & 5, Chris Norlander def. Jake Witte 6 & 5, Cody Stover def. Ron Statham 7 & 6.
MEN'S SIXTH — Jim Achenbach def. Tim Shaw 1-up, Derek Davis def. Michael McCaslin 4 & 3, Blake Bartlett def. Joe Arnesen 1-up, Brian Georgeson def. Fritz Schuler, Scott Weiland def. Collin Krueger 4 & 3, Spencer Frantz def. James Parsley 2 & 1, Dan Wayman def. Mark McUne 1-up, Keith Lallo def. Josh Huffman 19th.
MEN'S EIGHTH — Mark Pagan def. Chris Swartsley 3 & 2, Bryan Wheelock def. Don Shanklin 4 & 2, Jim Garrison def. Scott Anderson 1-up, Scott Entinger def. Mike Dunlevy 1-up, Mike Stavish def. Brandon Dahl 5 & 4, Tom Pepple def. Glen Johannes 1-up, Jim Palazzolo def. Josh Godfrey 1-up, Rick Buchler def. Al Reynolds 2 & 1.
MEN'S TENTH — Scott Sterton def. Jad Dickson 1-up, Rowan Jason def. Rick Holcom 1-up, Jeremy Ross def. Kevin Anderson 4-up, Jim Corbett def. Matt Daniken 5 & 4, Jim Stormo def. Lynn Knight 2 & 1, John Hernandez def. Darren Bruhns 2 & 1, Mike DeLagrange def. Billy Burke 19th, Ben Humphrey def. Nic Corbett 6-up.
JUNIOR SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP — Don Gorman def. Mark Hash 1-up, Doug Engle def. Hank Munn 1-up, Kevin Croucher def. Brooks Gard 3 & 2, Todd Dixon def. Eric Austad 3 & 2, David Kaplan def. John Buda 1-up, Michael Riley def. Brian Odell 6 & 5, Tommy Smith def. Rick McCabe 3 & 2, Gary Loeb def. Duke DeBernardi 1up, Kevin Klabunde def. Geoff Loomis 2-up, Ken Stringer def. Dennis Richards 1-up, Bret Breeze def. John Justin 1-up, Kelly Owen def. Robert Neff 19th, Dan Westbrook def. Richard Warner 1-up, Brent Barr def. Kevin Dixon 1-up, Brad Bills def. Joel Jessel 1-up, Erick Doolen def. Todd Osterson 2 & 1.
SENIOR CHAMPSIONSHIP FLIGHT — Mark Wilson def. Ron Howard 2 & 1, Alex Merkner def. Scott Mayfield 1-up, Bryan Schlafke def. Vaughn Schneider 1-up, Billy Crenshaw def. Terry Newsom 1-up, David Street def. Chris Littelton 2 & 1, Craig Galpern def. Ron Lewis 3 & 2, Marshall Holman def. Robert Tennant 2 & 1, Steven Welch def. Ken Van Daam 5 & 4, Marty Morlan def. Chet Gonczeruk 1-up, Glen Clark def. Terry Buntin 1-up, Jim Anderson def. Doug Ward 2 & 1, Jerry Eklund def. Bob Cox 1-up, Jim Hoffman def. John Given 3 & 2, Steve Lovich def. Robert Hyer 2 & 1, Steven Wood def. Gary Bates 7 & 6, Greg Miller def. John Brittain 4 & 3.
SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT — Ron Harvey def. Mark Artner 4 & 3, Paul Reynolds def. Charlie Tissen 6 & 4, Terry Smith def. James Mulhall 2 & 1, Michael Bauer def. Steve Boldish 2 & 1, Scott Weaver def. Gene Allred 19th, Steve Watkins def. Doug Hartley 3 & 2, Jerry Sessions def. Scott Swendiman 3 & 2, Gary Sterton def. Roger Peck 6 & 4.
SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT — Neil Smith def. Tim Wray 1-up, Brent Orrico def. Michael Armitage 2 & 1, Mark Binegar def. Lloyd Thompson 1-up, Howard Hunt def. B.G. Brosterhous 1-up, Roger Schnoes def. Don Mitchell 10 & 8, John Zupan def. Mel Friend 1-up, Al Raduski def. William Milimuka 3 & 2, Bill Allen def. Dennis Slattery 1-up.
SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT — Michael Jones def. Steve Dabrowski 3 & 2, Gibb Mitchell def. Don Pinkham 1-up, Al Proctor def. Sam Cribbs 1-up, Henry Burgoyne def. Dan Fowler 19th, Ron Moore def. Scott Lubich 1-up, Jim Hauck def. Craig Prewitt 1-up, Lee Fortier def. Darrell Flora Sr. 1-up, Kevin Aquirre def. Cliff Barnett 2 & 1.
SUPER SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT — George Mack def. Tom Hamlin 2 & 1, Larry Garvin def. Bob Crews 6 & 5, Doug Olson def. Steve Warrington 4 & 3, Dan Dixon def. Bruce Van Zee 3 & 2, John Dunkin def. Jim Hatton 1-up, Robert Maentz def. Michael Miller 4 & 3, John Johnson def. Gary Klouda 1-up, Terry Anderson def. Chuck Kenny 1-up.
SUPER SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT — Tom Riley def. Dick Kari 2 & 1, Bob Barber def. Gary Bonner 4 & 3, David Rasmussen def. Alan Vogel 3 & 1, David Mansfield def. Harvey Myers 3 & 1, Gary Puente def. Pat O'Brien 2 & 1, Rick Murdoch def. Leon Flinchpaugh 4 & 3, John Jenssen def. Mike Arant 1-up, Michael Trovato def. George Parsons 1-up.
SUPER SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT — John Root def. Joe Sayre 3 & 2, Raymond Smith def. Bob Hutchins 1-up, Walt Packard def. Jim Quinn 1-up, Robert Given def. Phillip Gossner 5 & 4, Donald Young def. Bob Ferrari 9 & 8, Bob Glover def. Jan Garner 2 & 1, Gordie Carrigan def. Roger Dawes 6 &5, Bob Reed Def. Tom Barry 1-up.
WOMEN'S CHANPIONSHIP FLIGHT — Trina Jones def. Toni Doolen 3 & 2, Calista Crenshaw def. Jessica Young 1-up, Rosie Cook def. Laura Pinkham 5 & 4, Kelly Loeb def. Kathy Pauck 5 & 4,Terry Levis def. Julia Tissen 3-up, Christina Phelps def. Lori Humphrey 2 & 1, M. McFaddin def. Tracie Armitage 19th, Lindsey Stockton def. Tina Blum 1-up.
WOMEN'S SECOND FLIGHT — Tory Nieto def. Dana Cody 1-up, Tammie Allen def. Cortney Hall 1-up, Tony Watkins def. Cathy Trower 1-up, Melinda Heiner def. Dana Carrigan 1-up, Leslie Gainery def. Julie Austad 1-up, Tonia Waldron def. Barbara Stormo 1-up, Annette VanDaam def. Bridgitte Griffin 4 & 3, Michele Rostron def. Diane Tucker 3 & 2.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org