Craig Gage's father used to hang with the biggest names in golf.
Craig Gage's father used to hang with the biggest names in golf.
Gage himself was comfortable hanging, however indirectly, with a lesser-known player who captured the U.S. Open Monday.
Gage, 66 and a member at Eagle Point Golf Club, was paired with Lucas Glover through a blind draw in the Open Sweeps tournament, and they won the gross title with a score of 148. The event combines the club member's score during a Saturday tourney with the pro's final-round score in the major.
Gage, a scratch player, shot a 3-over-par 75. Glover's final-round 73 on Monday gave the twosome a gross 148, tying it with member Ray Foulon (76) and pro Ross Fisher (72). Gage's score versus Foulon's provided the tiebraker win.
There were also men's and women's net divisions. Pete Peeters crafted an impressive net 63 — the odds of shooting a 9-under net score are 200-to-1, said Eagle Point pro Patrick Oropallo — and teamed with Stewart Cink's 74 to win with a 137. Shirley Brick (net 68) won the women's division with Lee Westwood (73) at 141.
Pros are drawn after the cut following the second round. Glover was in second place, one shot behind Ricky Barnes, who set a 36-hole scoring record of 132.
"I know a little about him," Gage said of Glover. "He's a good player. He's been around and he qualified. You never know. He was playing well, but I wasn't sure how well he'd hold up under the pressure of the final round. But Glover looked awful good to me. He had the same demeanor no matter what. If he made a bad shot, he just kept going. He's like Mickelson. You can't tell if he's shooting 85 or 65."
Despite his success with Glover, Gage's sentimental favorite was David Duval, who began the tournament ranked 882nd in the world and "has been through so much," said Gage.
Gage came from a golfing family. His father, Jack, won the 1939 California State Amateur and a year later was invited to play in the Masters. Appendicitis prevented him from entering, however.
Jack Gage toured several years professionally with the likes of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, then, realizing it was hard to make a living, became a club pro.
Craig Gage heard more than a few stories.
"He used to tell how they carpooled in an old jalopy to get from tournament to tournament," said Gage.
"He didn't like being in a hotel under Ben Hogan's room," said the son. "Hogan was always practicing his putting, and with the wood floors, he'd hear that sound half the night."
His father worked at California Country Club and Ojai in Southern California before moving to the Bay Area and taking a post at Burlingame. He later was part of a group took over some of the operations at Sharp Park in Pacifica.
Craig Gage followed in his dad's footsteps for a time, playing collegiate golf at Gonzaga and becoming a pro. However, the hours didn't suit him and he became a firefighter, eventually retiring as a captain.
He still has the game, though. On Saturday, starting on the short par-4 10th, he made double bogey when his failed approach got trapped under the lip of a sand bunker. He then three-putted No. 16 for bogey. Other than that, it was all pars.
"I'm not really a long hitter anymore," said Gage. "I'm a very handsy player. I hook shots and fade shots. I like to work the ball and do different things."
In a Wednesday round, he worked the ball into the hole with a cut 3-iron from 180 yards for an eagle-2. It helped him to a 73.
"I'm very pleased that at my age, I can still get the ball around the course pretty good," said Gage. "And this is a great golf course. You have to be able to play lots of shots. It's a tough course."
GIVEN THE NUMBERS he shoots with surprising regularity, one might think Norm Homeier would be gearing up to perform on a bigger stage.
Not just yet.
"I've got 11 more years until the senior tour," the 39-year-old golfer said with a laugh. "Maybe I'll try that."
Homeier flirted with the magical "59" number June 15, shooting a course-record 60 at Stone Ridge Golf Course, where par is 72. He did it from the white tees, breaking his own record of 61 set in May 2008. Homeier also holds the course mark from the blue tees with a 61.
Before it went from 18 to nine holes, Homeier, a former assistant pro at Cedar Links, had the professional record there of 61.
Homeier tried the California mini-tour circuit in the early to mid-1990s but most of his time now is devoted to raising a family and working at Golf Etc. in Medford. His competitive play is restricted to a few local pro-ams each year and, of course, his Monday and Friday battles with buddies during skins play at Stone Ridge.
A regular partner is Scott Lusk, the head pro at Stone Ridge and Homeier's former boss at Cedar Links. Lusk didn't have his best round, shooting 79, when Homeier went low.
"It's not very often I shoot 79 and get beat by 19 strokes," said Lusk. "Do you know how many shots he's going to have to give me the next time we play."
Lusk wasted little time getting Homeier's score posted for handicap purposes, but there was a glitch.
"The computer wouldn't take a 60," said Lusk. "It said it was too low. I've never had that happen to me before. I've had it say some smarmy things to me, but not that."
The U.S. Golf Association site would take the score for nine holes, but not 18.
Lusk, mindful that Homeier had a recent 63 that needed to be posted, worked around it by entering a 62 and 61.
Homeier's round included an eagle and 10 birdies to go with seven pars.
He missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole and nearly chipped in for another eagle on No. 18.
"I had some bombs that went in, too, so that kind of offset it, too," said Homeier. "It was a blast."
Homeier had no more than 20 putts, rarely missed a green and found every fairway. He shot a 6-under 29 on the front and a 6-under 31 on the back.
The parts of Homeier's game that really shine, said Lusk, are his iron play from 80 to 150 yards and his chipping around the greens. When he chipped in for eagle at 15, no one was surprised.
The group, which included Mike Austin, Larry Lilze and David Oas, was cognizant of how low Homeier was going and got quieter over the final holes. The bid for 59 ended when a chip just missed.
"We play together quite often," said Lusk. "Anytime anybody birdies the first hole or two, you start saying, 'course record, course record.' But with Norm, you kind of mean it."
DYLAN WU of Medford placed second by one shot in the Intermediate Boys Division (ages 12-13) of the Peter Jacobsen Junior Challenge Thursday at Forest Hills Golf Club in Cornelius.
Wu shot rounds of 76 and 81 over two days for a 13-over 157. Timothy Graham of Tualatin shot a pair of 78s for a 156.
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