Glen Clark had never beaten his friend and golfing companion Kevin Klabunde in the Southern Oregon Golf Championships.
That is until Monday.
Clark grabbed a lead early on the back nine of their 18-hole senior men’s match and didn’t give Klabunde a chance to rebound in posting a 3-and-1 victory in the 88th SOGC at Rogue Valley Country Club.
For Clark, a 62-year-old Medford masonry contractor, it was his third title in the event and second in four years in the senior men’s division. Klabunde is an eight-time tournament winner.
In the junior-senior division, Steve Taormino of Grants Pass won his second straight title and third in four years with a 2-and-1 win against Ryan Hawkins.
And in the super seniors, 77-year-old George Mack picked up his 13th crown with a 4-and-3 victory over Doug Ward.
Aubrie Street led by three holes after the first 18 in her 36-hole match in the women’s classification and came away with a 7-and-6 victory over Eagle Point’s Leslie Gainey.
And in the the senior women, former Medford resident Shelly Lehrkind returned from Bozeman, Montana, to post her first championship — 3-and-2 against Sandy Day.
Clark received a meaningful text prior to Monday’s final from friend and RVCC member Gene Allred, who has been battling cancer.
Clark recently got help with his swing from Allred, who said in the text, “may the hole look like a fruit basket.”
“And it did,” quipped Clark. “Geno sending that text was very special from a dear friend who took the time. I will not forget that.”
In the match against the formidable Klabunde, Clark got separation when the 63-year-old retired banker three-putted holes 10 and 11 for bogeys to go 2-up.
“Ten and 11 was my downfall,” said Klabunde, who won the senior title last year. “Basically I just made too many bogeys. To Glen’s credit, he made a lot of up-and-downs from off the green. He was solid with his short game.”
Klabunde cut the margin to one down on the par-4, 13th when his approach shot from about 150 yards rolled to within five feet of the hole. Clark was just short on his 12-foot putt for birdie before Klabunde drained his.
Clark seized opportunity on the par-3, 15th hole when his chip from the left bunker carried six feet past the hole. The steady Clark, who took up golf as a 26-year-old after moving to Medford in 1975 from Idaho, rolled in a fast, downhill putt for par to win the hole and go 2-up.
“That was a great up-and-down from the sand,” said Klabunde.
The match ended on the 17th when Klabunde’s high chip from behind the trap to the left flew across green. He conceded after his chip did not go in the hole.
“We’ve matched up a few times before and went to extra holes once but I never beat him,” said Clark. “Until today. It was a special day.”
Taormino lost to Hawkins in the regular men’s division five or six years ago on a birdie by Hawkins on the 21st hole.
On this day, Taormino went 3-up after the first 18 holes and had a four-hole lead before Hawkins rallied by winning three straight to pull to within one going into the final nine.
A birdie the hard way on the 13th provided a big lift for Taormino, who pushed his drive to the right side of the fairway and the ball was in a small depression between two trees.
“I took a 5-iron and chipped it three feet from the cup,” said Taormino. “I had to go low. It rolled all the way to the green.
“That was the turning point that gave me a cushion,” added Taormino. “All I had to do was make pars and make him beat me with birdies.”
Hawkins, who earned medalist honors with a 5-under 67 in qualifying, won the 16th to cut Taormino’s lead to two with two to play.
Hawkins drive went wide right of the green on the 189-yard, par-3 17th and his chip stopped about eight feet past the hole. Taormino’s drive was down the center just two feet off the green. He chipped close enough to the hole that Hawkins conceded.
“I knew I would have to bring my A game — fairways to greens,” said Taormino. “I played pretty steady all day.”
Mack made two birdies, two bogeys and a bunch of pars to win his super seniors match against former three-time junior senior champion Ward of Spokane.
Mack, a Portland CPA, had the match under control before Ward made back-to-back birdies to square the contest after nine holes.
But Mack answered with pars on the 10th and 11th and a birdie on 12 for a three-hole lead. Mack upped the lead to four after 14 holes and closed it out on the 15th when Ward three-putted from 30 feet.
“I kept it in the middle,” said Mack, “and kept it in front of the greens. I try to make all pars.”
Mack won the super seniors for the fifth time in eight years for the classification.
Next year, Mack will try to win his fifth men’s classification when the legends division for 75 and older is instituted.
The 24-year-old Street, who had three family members and her boyfriend also in the tournament, won her first women’s title comfortably against Gainey, a 1987 Crater High graduate.
“It’s always been a tournament I wanted to win,” said Street. “I hit okay off the tee. I gave myself good looks for birdie and par.”
It was the best result for Gainey, 48, in her eighth tournament appearance.
“(Street) played great,” said Gainey. “I enjoy women lifting each other to higher competitive levels.”
Lehrkind, 58, attributed her putting stroke to being a key for her victory in the senior women.
A pivotal moment was when Day called a penalty on herself when her ball moved on the ninth hole to give Lehrkind a two-hole lead going into the back nine.
“It went back-and-forth early,” said Lehrkind, who stretched her lead to four after the 13th hole.
Day, last year’s winner, rallied to win holes 14 and 15.
“I was getting sweaty,” said Lehrkind when her margin was cut to two.
But the match ended one hole later when both golfers chipped on the green in two but Day three-putted to lose the hole.
MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Jimmy White def. Joey Walker 11 & 10
MEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Will Street def. Ryan Whittaker 4 & 3
MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Michael Green def. Alec Williamson 5 & 4
MEN’S THIRD FLIGHT
Cody Stover def. Mark McUne 1 up
MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT
Jacob Gooding def. Jason Caplan 2 & 1
MEN’S FIFTH FLIGHT
Justin Hanlin def. Dustin Wallace 19th
MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT
Eric Linerud def. Collin Krueger 2 & 1
MEN’S SEVENTH FLIGHT
Stephen Odell def. Jeremy Ross 7 & 6
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Steve Taormino def. Ryan Hawkins 2 & 1
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Todd Couch def. Mark Mullaney 1 up
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Andy Baida def. Ted Stark 1 up
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Joe Arnesen def. Joe Mahar 3 & 1
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Rick Jackson def Keith Lallo 19th
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Dennis Richards def. Benny Shapiro 4 & 2
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
Tom Jones def. Jack Lewis 1 up
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT
Milo Smith def. Michael Diehl 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Glen Clark def. Kevin Klabunde 3 & 1
MEN’S SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Marshall Holman def. Bret Mackay 2 & 1
MEN’S SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Eric Austad def. Kim Cushing 3 & 2
MEN’S SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Gary Sterton def. Jim Smith 1 up,
MEN’S SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Joel Jessel def. Dave Allen 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Brian Odell def. John Lawton 4 & 3
MEN’S SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
David Street def. Neill Smith 6 & 5
MEN’S SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT
Rick McCabe def. Bruce Mendelson 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT
Michael Moylan def. Evan McArthur 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR NINTH FLIGHT
Kevin Aguirre def. Scott Lubich 1 up
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
George Mack def. Doug Ward 4 & 3
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Herman Holm def. Ross Cooley 2 & 1
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Patrick Daggitt def. Gordon Empey 3 & 2
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Tom Hamlin def. Dodd Samuel 2 & 1
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Stephen Cummins def. Jim Hatton 4 & 2
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Ken Linden def. Alex Bellen 3 & 1
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
Don Mitchell def. Gary Bates 3 & 2
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT
Bud Adler def. Tom Michaels 8 & 7
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT
Conrad Caprez def. John Jensen 5 & 4
MEN’S SUPER-SENIOR NINTH FLIGHT
Jim Barry def. David Runyon 4 & 3
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Aubrie Street def. Leslie Gainey 7 & 6
WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Toni Watkins def. Genna Mettler 1 up
WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Melinda Heiner def. Susie Hammett 19th
WOMENS THIRD FLIGHT
Kirsten Reed def. Ashley Snowden 1 up
SENIOR WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Shelley Lehrkind def. Sandy Day 3 & 2
SENIOR WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Annette VanDaam def. Tina Blum 2 & 1
SENIOR WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Maureen McFaddin def. LeeAnn Loftin 5 & 4
SENIOR WOMENS THIRD FLIGHT
Barb Reed def. Nancy Gish 3 & 2
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4489 or email@example.com