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Olson aiming for third Southern Oregon crown

Every year, he's a threat to win the Southern Oregon Golf Championship,the region's premier amateur tournament.

It might be a bigger story if two-time champion Doug Olson wasn't incontention to win one of these years. He's been as consistent as any playerin the Southern Oregon over the past 25 years.

Olson, 50, tuned up for the 68th Southern Oregon by winning the RogueValley Country Club men's club championship last week for the ninth time.He shot a 54-hole total of 3-over-par 217.

Anderson finished second with a 222 total. Kevin Klabunde was third at225, Dane Smith fourth at 228 and Glen Clark fifth at 229.

In the RVCC women's club championship, Trina Rasmussen won with a 238total, one shot in front of Linda Johnson. Yvonne Paris and Reena Eklundtied for third with 241 totals.

WHEN THE SOUTHERN OREGON opens with qualifying for local men Aug. 26and qualifying for out-of-town men and all women Aug. 27, Olson will beafter his third men's division title and his first since 1984.

A growing group of top local players ­ including Brad Bills, JerryAnderson, Kevin Klabunde, Dane Smith, Glen Clark and Mark DeBoer ­ areall contenders as well.

One notable no-show in the Southern Oregon will be Medford's Scott Tuttle,the top-ranked amateur player in Oregon. Tuttle has altered his schedulein order to play in major tournaments in the Northwest and selected nationalevents.

Last year's champion, Pat Watson, isn't entered in this year's event.

Olson has served notice that he could be the man to beat. He alreadyproved he's once again No. — at Rogue Valley Country Club, site of the SouthernOregon for 68 years.

I would say I played all right in the club championship but I'mnot playing great, says Olson. There's a difference betweenplaying great and scraping it around and doing what you have to do.

One week prior to the RVCC men's club championship, Olson won the CapitalCity Amateur Championship at Salem Golf Club. He shot rounds of 70 and 72for an 18-hole total of 2-under-par 142.

When I was 11 years old, I shot a 73 at Salem Golf Club,says Olson. I was interested in how I would compare 39 years later.I shot a 72 in the first round and I had to make two birdies late in theround to beat what I did as an 11-year-old 39 years later.

THERE WAS A BIT OF NOSTALGIA surrounding Olson's win. His longtime friend,former Medford junior golfer Mike Miller, caddied for him in both rounds.

Olson and Miller were good friends on the golf course and off as youngstersgrowing up in Medford. As a 15-year-old, Olson edged Miller in the semifinalsof the Northwest Amateur tournament.

He should have beaten me, says Olson. The next day,he caddied for me in the finals. So, it was a lot of fun having him thereto caddy for me two weeks ago in Salem. I made me feel good.

Miller is now a psychiatrist in Salem. Olson says he didn't ask his goodfriend for any psychiatric advice. I thought about it,'' he said,laughing.

Olson advanced to the finals of the 1996 Southern Oregon, but lost toWatson 3-and-2 in the 34-hole final.

In an effort to speed play, the field for Southern Oregon, which runsAug. 25 through Labor Day, has been cut from 464 players to 416 in orderto improve the speed of play. The field is full but RVCC is accepting applicationsfor potential alternates. The fee is $225.

If a potential player pays the fee to register as an alternate and doesn'tget in the field, the money will be refunded. Players already in the fieldwill receive half of their entry fee back if they cancel prior to the startof the tournament.

The event also feature a putting tournament, which runs Aug. 27-30, forthe first time. The winner will receive $2,000.

The putting contest is open to anyone. RVCC officials encourage the generalpublic and tournament spectators to participate.

Action will be contested on the small but sloping practice green in frontof the terrace at RVCC.

Cost to enter is $5 for three balls and $10 for seven balls. All putterswill have to make a 30-foot putt to qualify for the finals. They can purchaseup to 100 balls per day to try to qualify.

For each putt they make, they will get that number of balls to putt inthe final. The finals are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. on Aug. 30.

CADDY SCHOOL FOR Southern Oregon Golf Championship caddies will be heldAug. 23 at 9 a.m. There is no registration. Prospective tournament caddiesshould show up just prior to 9 a.m. at the course. Caddies must be at least10 years old.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Rogue Valley Country Club head professional Jim Wisecovers the follow-through in a swing this week:

Besides the way you grip the club, perhaps the next most importantfundamental in the swing is the follow-through, or finish position. If theplayer can get to and hold he finish position of the swing, good thingsstart happening.

The finish position is generated by the first move in the downswing.As the lower body (legs) start moving toward the target, the arms followthe motion of the legs to start down toward the ball. As this motion continues,the body weight shifts from the back foot to the front foot, and the hipsrotate so the stomach is facing the target.

All weight is on the front foot and the back foot has the heelstraight up, and toe down to keep on balance. The hands end up over theshoulder after striking the ball. If the player can get to and hold thisposition on every swing, ball striking becomes much more consistent anddistance will increase.

Randy Hammericksen is the Mail Tribune's sports columnist. He can bereached at 776-4499.