It took Steve Taormino’s best shot of the tournament to deny Medford’s Kevin Klabunde his third junior/senior title in the 85th Southern Oregon Golf Championships at Rogue Valley Country Club on Monday.
Taormino, a relative newcomer in the event, was even with Klabunde coming to the 212-yard par-3 15th hole. Taormino hit a high shot with a hybrid club that rolled to pin high within six feet of the cup to grab a 1-up lead with a birdie.
“I knew as soon as I hit it, it was going to be close,” said the 45-year-old Grants Pass resident. “That was the shot of the tournament for me.”
Klabunde, a six-time championship flight winner, could not close the deficit over the last three holes and had to settle for his third runner-up finish with the 1-up loss.
In the senior men’s championship, Glen Clark defeated Marshall Holman 1-up and six-time runner-up Dan Dixon outlasted regular golfing partner Terry Anderson 1-up to capture the super senior crown.
Rosie Cook of Bend cruised to an 8-up victory over Kelly Loeb for the women’s championship and LaVone Kirkwood bested Deb Stuart on the 20th hole in senior women.
Taormino, playing the SOGC for only his fourth time, could not gain any separation from Klabunde throughout the round.
“We ham and egged it,” said Taormino, a former corrections officer from San Jose who moved to Grants Pass in 2007. “My putting was spotty. I couldn’t make enough putts to get a lead.”
On the par-5 18th — Klabunde’s last chance to send the match into extra holes — both players found trouble on their second shots. Klabunde, on the right side rough under some trees, hit a low running shot that went through the green. Taormino was on the left side, also by trees, about 40 yards from the putting surface, when he chipped up just short of the green, then putted to three feet of the hole.
Klabunde’s putt from six feet behind the green slipped about 15 feet past the hole. When Klabunde’s par putt didn’t go in, he conceded the match.
“On the last nine, I just wanted to make pars, stay below the hole and give myself uphill putts,” said Taormino.
Clark, 59, registered his second championship win in the SOGC. He also won the junior/senior title in 2006.
Clark forged ahead with birdies on the 10th and 12th holes to go up by three. Holman hit out-of-bounds on 15 and thought the match was over but Clark couldn’t close out the Hall of Fame bowler.
Then Clark bogeyed the 16th and 17th to give Holman some life.
“I was thinking Glen wanted me to win,” said Holman.
On the 18th, Holman left his third shot about 20 feet below the hole. Clark came up short of the green from about 50 yards, then chipped to within three feet of the hole. Holman conceded Clark the par and when Holman’s tying putt went just left of the cup the match was over.
Either Dixon or Anderson, former business partners, were destined to pick up their first SOGC championship title in the super senior final.
Dixon, 68, sank an 8-foot birdie putt on the 16th to take a 2-hole lead, but Anderson won the 17th to inch closer and force a final hole.
But Anderson went left on his second shot on 18, then hit a tree and ended up on the seventh fairway with his third shot. He eventually conceded the match to his golfing buddy of 40 years.
“I had to make the hero shot,” said Anderson, who is now a three-time runner-up. “I took (Dixon) out of a few of them, so it was his time. At least one of us had to break through.”
Cook of Bend was dominant with the big victory over former two-time women’s champion Kelly Loeb.
Cook was up by five holes after the first 18 en route to her first women’s title in her second appearance in the tournament.
“Oh my god, when you have a good day you just want to keep going,” said Cook. “I controlled my game. I hit it straight and was consistent hitting the greens.”
Medford resident Deb Stuart suffered her second 20th-hole loss in the senior women’s championship bracket. Stuart also lost in the 2012 finals.
“I guess I’m a 19-hole player,” joked Stuart.
Kirkwood, of Grants Pass, tied the match with a bogey on the 18th hole.
When Stuart chipped into a sand trap on the par-4 second hole and came out long, Kirkwood secured the victory.
JR/SR MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Steve Taormino d. Kevin Klabunde 1 up.
JR/SR MEN'S FIRST FLIGHT
Paul Weinhold d. Don Gorman 2 & 1.
JR/SR MEN'S SECOND FLIGHT
John Quinones d. Mark Hash 3 & 2.
JR/SR MEN'S THIRD FLIGHT
C.J. Knips d. Robert Husel 3 & 2.
JR/SR MEN'S FOURTH FLIGHT
Gordon Humphrey d. Brent Orrico 19th.
JR/SR MEN'S FIFTH FLIGHT
Mike Dunlevy d. John Hall 4 & 3.
JR/SR MEN'S SIXTH FLIGHT
Greg Jacobs d. Don Shanklin 2 & 1.
JR/SR MEN'S SEVENTH FLIGHT
Troy Alexander d. Lance Hunter 5 & 4.
SENIOR MEN CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Glen Clark d. Marshall Holman 1 up.
SENIOR MEN FIRST FLIGHT
Bill Warnick d. Gary Loeb 2 & 1.
SENIOR MEN SECOND FLIGHT
David Orr d. Terry Faulkner 5 & 4.
SENIOR MEN THIRD FLIGHT
Gary Sterton d. Patrick Daggitt 3 & 2.
SENIOR MEN FOURTH FLIGHT
Evan McArthur d. Don Mitchell 5 & 4.
SENIOR MEN FIFTH FLIGHT
Arthur Aviles d. Doug Hartley 6 & 5.
SENIOR MEN SIXTH FLIGHT
Mark Pagan d. William Milimuka 2 & 1.
SENIOR MEN SEVENTH FLIGHT
Darrell Hunt d. Gibb Mitchell 3 & 2.
SENIOR MEN EIGHTH FLIGHT
Mike Stewart d. Alex Bellen 3 & 2.
SENIOR MEN NINTH FLIGHT
Kevin Aguirre d. Chris Carrigan 19th.
SUPER SR MEN CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Dan Dixon d. Terry Anderson 1 up.
SUPER SR MEN FIRST FLIGHT
Tom Hamlin d. Michael Miller.
SUPER SR MEN SECOND FLIGHT
Larry Garvin d. Ron Primasing 2 & 1.
SUPER SR MEN THIRD FLIGHT
Gary Klouda d. Robert Adler 1 up.
SUPER SR MEN FOURTH FLIGHT
Jerry Rohrs d. Michael Goldman 3 & 2.
SUPER SR MEN FIFTH FLIGHT
Dick Entinger d. Jim Quincy 23rd.
SUPER SR MEN SIXTH FLIGHT
Gary Jones d. Mike Jantzer 1 up.
SUPER SR MEN SEVENTH FLIGHT
Conrad Caprez d. James Quinn 4 & 3.
SUPER SR MEN EIGHTH FLIGHT
Joe Warnick d. Bill Replogle 2 & 1.
SUPER SR MEN NINTH FLIGHT
Raymond Smith d. Tom Aubachon 2 & 1.
WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Rosie Cook d. Kelly Loeb 8 up.
WOMEN FIRST FLIGHT
Christina Phelps d. Tina Blum 1 up.
WOMEN SECOND FLIGHT
Lori Humphrey d. Toni Doolen 1 up.
WOMEN THIRD FLIGHT
Genna Mettler d. Mindy Johnston 2 up.
SR WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
LaVone Kirkwood d. Deb Stuart 20th.
SR WOMEN FIRST FLIGHT
Paula Cracraft d. Gail Jones 1 up.
SR WOMEN SECOND FLIGHT
Sharon Swartsley d. Sue Hunter 19th.
SR WOMEN THIRD FLIGHT
Becky Barry d. Melinda Fowler 1 up.