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It's a blast from past as Owen advances

Photo by Drew Fleming

Luneta Ah Sam chips onto the 12th — green during her quarterfinal match at Rogue Valley Country Club.

— —

Kelly Owen is turning back the clock at the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament.

Owen hasn't won the tournament in 26 years and hasn't advanced beyond the second round in 22 years.

But on a picture-perfect Saturday at Rogue Valley Country Club, Owen shot 2-over-par golf to defeat Kevin Dixon 4-and-3 and move into today's quarterfinals in the men's championship flight.

In other men's matches, defending champion Brooks Newsom downed Ian Parent 5-and-4; last year's runner-up Brad Bills thumped Greg Niles 6-and-5; medalist Kevin Klabunde defeated B.J. Boeck, 4-and-3; Doug Luther subdued Ted Stark 4-and-3; Eric Austad ousted Phil Cardin 3-and-2; Glen Clark edged Craig Knips 1-up; and former champion Tommy Smith bested Mark DeBoer 4-and-2.

Owen has never been able to match the magic he spawned in 1973. The then 18-year-old won the state high school championship at Medford High, became the youngest player to win the RVCC club championship, finished third at the Oregon Amateur and then dominated the Southern Oregon tourney.

That was a long time ago, Owen, now 44, said as he stood on the terrace at RVCC and reminisced about that wondrous summer of yore. Back then I was playing a lot of golf and had brought my game to a high level.

Now I'm just out here to have fun.

Owen bought a new putter a few weeks ago that brought his game _ and his fun _ up a notch.

It's a longer putter than my old one, and mentally it has given me more confidence, Owen said. I've been making all the 3- and 4-footers this week. It's made a world of difference in my game.

Owen will need to be at the top of his game this morning when he matches up against Smith, a former professional who regained his amateur status last December.

Smith was — under par through 16 holes in his victory over DeBoer. The former Medford High and University of Oregon golfer finished with a bang as he clobbered a 330-yard drive on the 16th hole to set up a match-ending birdie.

I think that's the furthest I've ever hit a ball, Smith said. I don't hit my drives real high and I was worried about hitting the trees on that (16th) hole. So I teed it up high and just blasted it.

Smith, 31, finished with four birdies and only one bogey as he methodically worked his way around RVCC's outside course. Clutch, par-saving putts on the ninth and 10th holes paved the way for Smith's eye-catching round.

I'm finally getting a feel for the game once again, said Smith, whose only competition since regaining his amateur status has been a couple of scramble tournaments. You can hit the ball well on the practice tee, but it's different when you get out here on the course.

DeBoer hung tough most of the way, but after sinking a tricky downhill par putt on the 13th hole to draw within two holes of Smith, he missed a 2-footer on the next hole to fall three back.

Each golfer parred the 15th before Smith's monster drive and ensuing birdie closed out the match on the 16th.

The way Smith is playing, and given his background as a professional in Australia and South Africa, many consider him the favorite.

That's not for me to decide, Smith said. I'm out here because I love to compete, not only against other golfers but also against the course.

Meanwhile, women's medalist Amanda Nealy and two-time runner-up Reena Eklund cruised to quarterfinal victories and appear destined to meet one another in Monday's championship match.

Nealy downed Trina Rasmussen 7-and-6 while Eklund was 3-under through 14 holes en route to a 4-and-3 victory over Kristin Couch.

I'm feeling very comfortable right now, said Eklund, who hit 13 of 14 fairways and all 14 greens in a round that included three birdies and no bogeys. I really only hit one bad shot today.

Ah Sam stuffed her approach shot within two feet of the hole and made the birdie putt on the 17th to send Holte packing.

Ah Sam has worked hard on her short game this summer and suddenly finds herself a contender in the Women's Division. She faces Nealy in one semifinal match today, while Eklund plays Jennifer Ausland.

My short game has always been my downfall, but I've spent a lot of time on the putting green this summer, Ah Sam said. I'm finally learning to judge distances and get into a rhythm.

In other divisions, junior-senior co-medalists Greg Miller and Doug Ward advanced, as did senior medalist John Dunkin.

The tournament continues today and wraps up Monday with title matches in all four divisions.

— Saturday's Results

Brooks Newsom, Columbia-Edgewater, d. Ian Parent, Logan CC, 5-4; Doug Luther, Columbia-Edgewater, d. Ted Stark, Portland, 4-3; Eric Austad, RVCC, d. Phil Cardin, Eagle Point GC, 3-2; Brad Bills, Stoneridge, d. Greg Niles, Medford, 6-5; Kevin Klabunde, RVCC, d. B.J. Boeck, RVCC, 4-3; Glen Clark, EVCC, d. Craig Knips, Quail Point, 1-up; Tommy Smith, RVCC, d. Mark DeBoer, Eagle Point, 4-2; Kelly Owen, RVCC, d. Kevin Dixon, RVCC, 4-3.

Don Engle, Stoneridge, d. Mike Finnell, Lakeside, 1-up; Jon Woods, Canteberry, d. Mark Decker, Rooster Run, 2-1; Ryan Schaefer, Grants Pass, d. David Luther, Tualatin, 20th; Dave Ruegg, Oak Knoll, d. Todd Nelson, Medford, 19th; Raef Lillesve Widjii, d. Brent Orico, New Castle, 5-3; Scott Swendiman, Riverview, d. Ron Tycer, OSU, 5-4; Dane Smith, RVCC, d. Tim Fischer, Eagle Point, 2-1; Jeff Williams, Oak Knoll, d. Noah Schwartz, Del Paso CC, 4-3.

MEN'S SECOND FLIGHT

David Street, RVCC, d. Ryan Munn, Eagle Point, 6-5; Craig Dumont, RVCC, d. Cerek Holland, Bushwood, 2-1; Rick Nelson, Dutcher Creek, d. Rob Cockburn, RVCC, 4-3; Daryn Clark, Tapps Island GC, d. Manava Siliga, Medford, 1-up.

MEN'S SECOND FLIGHT CONSOLATION

Larry Miller, Reames, d. Tim Mort, RVCC, 2-1; Dave Rowland, Gold Hill, d. Bobby Foote, Stoneridge, 1-up; John Adair, Seaside Resort, d. Glen Kilroy, Huntington Beach, 1-up; Randy Goosman, Cedar Links, d. Darrell Hunt, 6-5.

MEN'S FIFTH FLIGHT

Tony Nieto, RVCC, d. Matthew Van Sant, Crescent City, 19th; Jeff DeBoer, RVCC, d. Curtis Burrill, Eagle Point, 7-6; Thomas Leach, Deerwood GC, d. Paul Chitwood, Eagle Point, 5-4; Kevin Tucker, Overlake G&CC, d. Hal Hartzell, Jr., Cottage Grove, 4-3.

MEN'S FIFTH FLIGHT CONSOLATION

Russ Batzer, RVCC, d. Scott Sterton, Seattle, 1-up; Jeff Stirewalt, Oakhurst CC, d. Will Ferguson, Portland, 1-up; Craig Prewitt d. Phillip Ravkovich, Springfield, 1-up; Mike Fischer d. Roger Colwell, default.

MEN'S SIXTH FLIGHT

Tom Hawkins, Medford, d. Dan Petrocchi, Del Paso, 1-up; Curtis McGrew, Harding Park, d. Frank Holminski, Boundry Oaks, 4-3; Jay Christensen, Eagle Point, d. Don Webb, Medford, 6-5; Pat Brockie, Lake Oswego, d. Gary McDonald, Deerwood, 19th.

MEN'S SIXTH FLIGHT CONSOLATION

Rob Burke, Bainbridge Island, d. Rob Hauck, Willamette Valley, 4-3; Alan Cartwright, Cedar Links, d. Michael Carufel, The Reserve, 2-1; Michael Tucker, Snoqualmie Falls, d. Mike Marken, Sunnyvale, 8-7; John Snyder, Conestoga, d. Jim Stormo, Portland, 2-up.

WO

Amanda Nealy, Grants Pass GC, d. Trina Rasmussen, RVCC, 7-6; Luneta Ah Sam, Bear Creek GC, d. Heather Holte, Tokatee GC, 3-1; Reena Eklund, RVCC, d. Kristin Couch, RVCC, 4-3; Jennifer Ausland, Columbia Edgewater, Linda Johnson, RVCC, 3-2.

WO

Laura Pinkham, RVCC, d. Judy Lockwood, Oregon GC, 5-3; Linda Edwards, Grants Pass GC, d. Tracie Armitage, Oak Knoll, 2-up; Denise Benson, Crystal Springs, d. Carmen Akins, EVCC, 4-3.

WOMEN'S SECOND FLIGHT

Barb Pinkham, RVCC, d. Judy Plummer, RVCC, 3-2; Demi Waliser, RVCC, d. Ann Reynolds, Eagle Point GC, 1-up; Alison Myers, Monterey GC, d. Katie Doyle, Par Valu GC, 5-4; Carol Fischer, RVCC, d. Diane Tucker, RVCC, 1-up.

WOMEN'S THIRD FLIGHT

Margaret Kilroy, RVCC, d. Barbara Stormo, Portland, 1-up; Becky Barry, d. Lela Larkin, 2-up; Jan Madsen, Cedar Links, d. Kim Brockie, San Diego, 1-up; Donna Dixon, RVCC, d. Gloria Tyson, RVCC, 2-up.

SENIOR WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Pam Hubbard, Yakima CC, d. Barbara Hanson, RVCC, 5-4; Ruth Walker, RVCC, d. Chris Howe, RVCC, 2-1; Gayle Jantzer, RVCC, d. Vicki Moffatt, Stoneridge GC, 4-3; Lynda Adams, Grays Harbor CC, d. Nancy McDonald, Tacoma G&CC, 2-up.

SENIOR WO

Carolyn Kennedy, Oak Knoll, d. Brenda Hill, RVCC, 5-4; Kathy McMurtry, RVCC, d. Doris Grosch, Cedar Links, 5-4; Mary Rongerude, Willamette CC, d. Carol Jones, RVCC, 8-7; Norma Luther, RVCC, d. Sandra Lingerbrink, Mill Creek GC, 1-up.

SENIOR WOMEN'S SECOND FLIGHT

Hollis Petrocchi, Del Paso CC, d. Eva Lund, Arrowhead CC, 1-up; Yvonne Schlafe, RVCC, won by default over Jan Buich, Carlsbad; Barb Field, RVCC, won by default over Helen Jones, Contra Costa; Coral Edwards, RVCC, d. Casey Mitchell, RVCC.

JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Greg Miller, RVCC, d. Gary Kaufman, Tualatin, 6-4; Doug Ward, Overlake, d. Tom Deatherage, Bend CC, 3-2; Dan Dixon, RVCC, d. Don Pinkham, RVCC, 3-2; Keith Valk, RVCC, d. Craig Galpern, RVCC, 1-up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT

Ted Decker, Rooster Run, d. Scott Weaver, RVCC, 1-up; Rick Brekke, RVCC, d. Jim Towns, Riverview, 2-up; Dave Wittkopf, Eagle point, d. Fred Johannsen, Eagle Point, 1-up; Brian Adolph, RVCC, d. Rick Metzger, Overlake, 3-2.

JUNIOR-SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Mark Binegar, Pleasant Valley, d. Randy Loyd, RVCC, 2-1; Steve Robertson, Cedar Links, d. Jim Wiggins, RVCC, 6-5; Bob Cox, RVCC, d. Sid DeBoer, RVCC, 2-1; Scott Mayfield, Grants Pass, d. Michael Maier, Bend, 1-up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT

Bill Jones, Contra Costa, d. Brad Heilman, Overlake, 19th; Carl Hanson, Contra Costa, d. Dave Werschkul, Stoneridge, 2-1.

JUNIOR-SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Wayne Van Wey, RVCC, d. Mike Jantzer, RVCC, 19th; John Barnes, Oregon GC, d. Doug Hartley, Santiam, 3-2; Scott McGeary, Hope Valley, d. Tim Root, RVCC, 6-4; Tim Wray, Eagle Point, d. Bill Batzer, RVCC, 1-up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT

Kirk Straw, Walnut Creek, d. Rick Brink, RVCC, 5-3; Ron McElroy, RVCC, d. Michael Card, Jacksonville, 20th; Wendall Towe, NJapa GC, d. Tom Groves, Juniper GC, 1-up; Brian Schmitz, RVCC, d. Don Hutchison, Rose City, 1-up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT

Tal Kaylor, Oak Knoll, d. Jodie Griffin, Indian Springs GC, 20th; John Kruesi, RVCC, d. Ralph Perry, Redding, 3-1; Robert George, RVCC, d. Buck Brigham, RVCC, 4-3; Jeff Benson, Crystal Springs, 1-up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT

Michael Farthing, Riveridge, d. George Mercier, RVCC, 2-up; Bill Heyerman, Riverview CC, d. Fred Moran, Stoneridge GC, 2-up; Chris Wetle, Overlake GC, d. Jim Cox, RVCC; Mark Orrico, Overlake G&CC, d. Wayne Logemann, Eastmoreland, 2-up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT

Russ Stocek, RVCC, d. Jack Durante, Eagle Point GC, 21st; Steve Skinner, Arrowhead CC, d. Larry Boeck, RVCC, 4-2; Winston Tucker, RVCC, d. Delbert Nickols, Cedar Links, 1-up; Chuck Carnese, Columbia Edgewater, d. John Barker, Portland, 2-1.

JUNIOR-SENIOR NINTH FLIGHT

Don Lesh, Las Vegas, d. Bob Reed, RVCC, 4-3; Mike Kirkpatrick, RVCC, d. Tom Mayer, RVCC, 2-1; Gregory Swank, Treesdale G&CC, d. Cleve Tooker, RVCC, 1-up; Keith Rogers, Medford, d. Kurt Boyd, Willow GC, 2-1.

SENIOR MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Justin Smith, RVCC, d. Dick Swanson, RVCC, 3-2; Mike Trovato, RVCC, d. Dale Lingerbrink, Mill Creek GC, 19th; John Dunkin, RVCC, d. Jim Howe, RVCC, 1-up; Bob Harrell, RVCC, d. Ron Dixon, RVCC, 4-3.

SENIORS

Don Rose, Eugene CC, d. Mike Morris, RVCC, 1-up; Jim Quincy, RVCC, d. Steve Ausland, Grants Pass GC, 2-up; Hal Light, Tualatin CC, d. Fred Johnson, RVCC, 2-1; David Rongerude, Willamette CC, d. Bill Berry, RVCC, 5-3.

SENIOR MEN'S SECOND FLIGHT

Ed Setzler, RVCC, d. Charlie Mickelson, RVCC, 1-up; Jerry Dillen, Lake Shastina, d. Gerry Osterland, RVCC, 1-up; Dick Sorenson, Pumpkin Ridge, d. Sid Field, 2-up; Chuck Miller, Walnut Creek, d. Jerry Adams, Greys Harbor CC, 2-1.

SENIOR MEN'S THIRD FLIGHT

Lee Ramage, RVCC, d. Rick Brockie, RVCC, 5-4; Alan Schneider, Quail Point, d. Glenn Lund, Arrowhead CC, 4-2; Len Merryman, RVCC, d. Jim Johnson, Reames, 4-2; Dean Keller, Pumpkin Ridge GC, d. Al Thelin, RVCC, 1-up.

SENIOR MEN'S SIXTH FLIGHT

Dick Etinger, RVCC, d. Pete Puljan; Bruce Hanson, RVCC, d. David Mansfield, Sunnyvale, 6-4.

SENIOR MEN'S SEVENTH FLIGHT

Doug Gardiner, RVCC, d. Bert Putney, RVCC, 7-6; Steve Goodrich, Wigam, d. Jerry Bramwell, RVCC, 4-3.

SENIOR MEN'S EIGHTH FLIGHT

John Root, Roseburg CC, d. Rowland Dow, RVCC; Phil Austin, Spanaway, d. Miyake Toshio, RVCC, 5-3.

SENIOR MEN'S NINTH FLIGHT

Don McCullough, Peach Tree, d. Jack Sherman, RVCC, 1-up; Sixto Rodriguez, Cedar Links, d. Dick Hackstedde, RVCC, 7-5.

SENIORS MEN'S TENTH FLIGHT

Bob Bassett, Eugene CC, d. Roger George, Medford, 1-up; Gerald Schatz, RVCC, d. Bill Mayer, RVCC, 1-up.

SENIOR MEN'S ELEVENTH FLIGHT

John Kilroy, RVCC, d. Scott Milne, Bellevue Club, 2-1; Tony Brenneman, Moorehead GC, d. Trenton Douglas, Oak Knoll, 5-3.

MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT - MEN'S FIRST FLIGHT