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Renowned artist adds his touch to tournament

Renowned artist adds his touch to tournament

Jim Fitzpatrick, a golf artist and former head professional at Ashland's Oak Knoll Golf Course, has graced the 70th Southern Oregon Golf Tournament with his latest work.

Fitzpatrick, 51, who was the pro at Oak Knoll from 1974 to '78 and an advertising salesman for KOBI television from 1978-'82, painted a rendering of the freshly redesigned seventh hole on the Outside Course at Rogue Valley Country Club.

Lithograph copies of the painting were given as tee prizes to all 416 entrants in the tournament, which runs through Monday.

I'm happy with the way it turned out, says Fitzpatrick, who started his career as a golf artist 15 years ago. His office and studio (JB Publishers) are located in Rocklin, Calif.

My aim in a painting like this is to find a scene that is pleasing to golfers and to try to paint a beautiful picture, says Fitzpatrick.

He succeeded.

The painting focuses on the seventh green and the new lake that lurks across the front of the entire green. Shadows of beautiful trees behind the green reflect in the blue water, creating just the right backdrop.

Fitzpatrick says it took about 300 hours to complete the painting.

It gets tedious, but you have to be patient, he says.

Fitzpatrick has been commissioned by current and former PGA tour pros, such as Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Billy Capser and Peter Jacobsen, to do paintings of some of their most historic and triumphant moments in golf.

Fitzpatrick painted Faldo striding up the 11th fairway at Augusta National on the way to his first of two Masters titles. He painted Nicklaus on the 13th and 16th holes at Augusta on the way to two of his six Masters wins. He painted Palmer at Southern Hills in the 1965 U.S. Open.

His most lucrative paintings were of the 13th hole at Mauna Lani Resort on the Kohna Coast in Hawaii -- a Japanese businessman paid him $20,000 -- and the 16th hole at Cypress Point in Monterey, Calif.

Fitzpatrick specializes in painting scenes of courses for tee prizes in big tournaments, as he did in the Southern Oregon. He painted the 15th hole at RVCC, with Mount Ashland glistening in the background, in 1985 as another Southern Oregon Golf Tournament tee prize.

I try to capture something that shows the excitement of an event or a landscape scene of a hole that people will recognize, says Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick's rendering of No. 7 at RVCC, and several of his other paintings, will be on display through Labor Day's championship round of the Southern Oregon.

The artist plans on being at the club for the final two days of the tournament.

In the meantime, he'll be showing his work in Millbrae, Calif., where he painted a hole at Green Hills Country Club as a tee prize.

I want to be here for the end of this tournament, he say. I look at this as more of a vacation and coming back home to meet friends.

Amanda Nealy, the 1995 Southern Oregon women's champion, earned medalist honors with her round of 75 in qualifying this week.

I surprised myself, said Nealy, who hasn't been playing much golf the past two years while living in Portland and earning a law degree from Lewis & Clark College.

Nealy, who is working for her father, Grants Pass attorney Oscar Nealy, as a clerk this summer, has taken her bar exam. She's waiting for the results.

I'm committed to stay in Grants Pass for a year, no matter what happens, says Nealy.