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Top match play was on display

Column by RANDY HAMMERICKSEN

For those who enjoy watching or playing match-play golf, Monday's finalround of the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament was testimony to what makesthis format a nice break from the more conventional medal-play format.

New champions Mary Lou Mulflur (women's division), Doug Olson (men'sdivision), and Bob Harrell (senior men) staged clinics on how to excel underthe extreme pressure of playing championship matches.

Mulflur, in particular, appears to be made for match play, in which playerscompete to win holes, rather than the lowest number of strokes over thecourse. A fearless competitor who drives herself intensely to succeed, the39-year-old Mulflur doesn't back off from tough shots, tough opponents,or the pressure that match play can generate.

She displayed that tenacious quality in winning four matches in fivedays to earn her fourth Southern Oregon women's title.

Mulfer, the head women's golf coach at the University of Washington,matched up against Oregon State sophomore golfer Reena Eklund, a 20-year-oldformer North Medford High player, in the women's final.

Mulflur used her exacting touch around the greens and tournament experienceto teach the younger Eklund a few lessons about playing competitive golf.Nevertheless, Eklund proved during the past two weeks she will be a successfulplayer at the Pac-10 level by winning the Rogue Valley Stroke Play women'schampionship and finishing second in the Southern Oregon.

After her title in the stroke event, Eklund continued her hot play byearning the women's medalist title in the Southern Oregon with a 1-over-par75 in tournament qualifying and by dominating three consecutive opponentson the way to the championship match against Mulflur.

Meanwhile, Mulflur, who is nicknamed Lou Dawg, a play onwords related to Washington's Huskies nickname, played more like a bulldogby bullying her way around Rogue Valley Country Club with solid shot-makingand determination to win her fourth Southern Oregon title.

It can be unnerving to play against somebody like Mary Lou,said Eklund. She seems to always come up with the shot when she needsit.

I told her I guess I need another 20 years to be able to do thatlike she does. This tournament helped me to realize how important it isto be able to compete like she does. Now that I've gone this far, I'll beexpecting more out of myself next year. I hope to get another shot at her.

Speaking of experience, Harrell showed his on Monday in overhauling JohnDunkin 1-up in the senior men's final. Harrell found himself four holesdown after eight holes, but used his iron game to rally to the win.

Harrell's incredible 114-yard pitch shot to the 18th green with a 9-ironleft him two inches from the hole. His tap-in birdie sealed his second SouthernOregon senior title. He wants more.

I won this tournament in 1991 when I was a rookie, says Harrell,61, referring to the first year he was eligible to qualify as a senior player(age 55 and over). It had been a while, and I was due to win anotherone.

I'd like to get on a roll and win a few in a row, but I'll neverdo what my good friend Ed Godden did.

Godden won six straight senior titles from 1985-90 and nine overall SouthernOregon crowns; he won the men's overall title in 1979, a junior-senior championshipin 1981, and seven senior crowns.

Olson is perhaps the most consistent and best amateur golfer to comeout of Southern Oregon. Jason Allred, the 17-year-old U.S. Junior Amateurchampion out of Ashland, may have something to say about that in the future.

Allred's junior career has been dominated by national success. Olsonhad that, too, but he excelled 30 years earlier, primarily in Oregon andthe Northwest, because there wasn't as extensive a national junior programavailable as the one Allred is competing in now.

After his senior year at Ashland High, Allred seems destined for a majorcollege golf program to play for a few years, followed by an attempt, orattempts, to make the PGA Tour.

As a result, he may never play in a Southern Oregon Golf Championship.

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The Southern Oregon Timberjacks Classic Golf Tournament, a benefit eventfor the Rogue Valley Little League baseball program, will be held Sept.20 at Eagle Point Golf Course.

Entry fee is $60. It includes greens fees, tee prizes and lunch.

Competition will be in a two-man best-ball format, four-player teamsand individual medal play.

For more information and to reserve carts, call the Eagle Point GolfCourse pro shop at 826-8225.

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Cheryl Hite is the 1997 Cedar Links Golf Course women's club champion.Hite defeated Enid Gran on the 21st hole of match play. Cherry Dunbar toppedDebbie Toney to win the first flight.

Sylvia Berman won the second flight, defeating Muriel Muenzul, and JudyLaws won the consolation flight championship.

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Richard Swanson and John Dunkin of Rogue Valley Country Club both competedto qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur Golf Tournament at Persimmon CountryClub near Portland on Aug. 22. Swanson shot a round of 7-over 79 and Dunkinshot 80. Neither

player qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur, which will be held Sept.20-25 at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y.