Breeze, Wood share first-day city lead
Bret Breeze did a funny thing before the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships.
He went to great lengths ' and distances ' to overhaul his swing.
It didn't seem to matter much on Saturday as Breeze, enjoying a hugely successful summer of golf, matched Steve Wood for the low round at Cedar Links Golf Course.
The two-day tournament, which drew a record 175 players this year, including 50 with handicaps of 5.0 and lower, is considered the city championships.
Breeze and Wood each shot 1-under-par 69 over a layout made particularly tough by challenging pin placements and blue tees.
They will be in the final group today, teeing off at 1:30 p.m. with Jay Klemp and Rick Dimick, who each shot 70.
— Two others, Adam Browne and Bill Malone, shot 70s and will be in the next-to-last group with Terry Fretz (71) and defending champion Brooks Newsom (72). Others to shoot 72 were Doug Olson and Jim Hoffman.
Twenty-two players came in at 75 or better.
Bob Harrell led the senior division with a 71, one shot better than Terry Anderson and John Johnson.
Linda Johnson's 73 put her at the head of the women's division. Carmen Akins is in second with a 75.
Breeze traveled to Scottsdale, Ariz., during the week to take lessons from noted teacher Mike Malaska, who counts among his students Jack Nicklaus and Tom Lehman. He had two sessions with him and flew back to Medford Friday night.
Breeze admits he got some funny looks from people wondering why he'd tinker with his swing right before two big tournaments ' after the city, the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament is next week.
I could have waited, said Breeze, but it's more of a big-picture deal.
He tried to see Malaska in July, but the teacher was overseas at the British and Scottish opens.
Breeze said his setup was adjusted and, when he correctly implements the changes, he feels as if his swing is vastly different, whether or not it looks that way to the casual observer.
He had gone to local teaching pro Ed Fisher earlier in the summer, and Fisher began the process Malaska built on.
I really don't have any expectations, said Breeze. I really didn't have any today. I decided to make these changes, and if I shoot a big number, then I do. The guy's a great teacher and I've got to practice this.
With his swing at an uncomfortable stage, Breeze is happy with his first-round score.
He got up-and-down four times from difficult places, relying on a short game that helped him win the Rogue Valley Country Club championship and team tournaments at Grants Pass and Klamath Falls.
Starting at No. 10, Breeze double bogeyed his second hole when he hit through the fairway and took an unplayable lie. However, he rebounded with four birdies, coupled with one bogey, to come in at — under.
Wood, who in May set the amateur course record with a 62, characterized his round as smooth and relatively uneventful.
He made three birdies, including his first hole to get off to a good start, and two bogeys.
His best hole might have been No. 18 ' his ninth ' when his approach hit a sprinkler head to the left of the green and the ball caromed near the No. 10 tee. He hit a lob wedge back to the fringe, then drained a curling, 30-foot putt.
Wood also got away with bogey on the par-3 fifth hole after blading a chip over the green. He got down with a 20-foot putt.
His last four holes, Nos. 6-9, appeared forboding, but he played them in even par.
I was thrilled with that, said Wood.
Wood, who hasn't had the overnight lead in the tournament before, said being the course record holder hasn't caused him to feel pressure.
I've been playing that course pretty well this year, he said. I hope to do well in this tournament, but I don't know what tomorrow holds. Shooting low scores a couple of times this year gave me a little confidence coming in here.
MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Steve Wood 69, Bret Breeze 69, Jay Klemp 70, Rick Dimick 70, Bill Malone 70, Adam Browne 70, Terry Fretz 71, Brooks Newsom 72, Doug Olson 72, Jim Hoffman 72, Justin Wise 73, Jerry Eklund 73, Glen Clark 73, Chris Daggitt, 74, David Boals 74, Tim Croft 74, Keith Valk 74, Pat Moore 74, Brad Bills 74, Byung Kim 75, Nick Nieto 75, Jerry Anderson 75, Don Gorman 76, Jim Parrish 76, Terry Faulkner 76, Marty Morlan 76, Eric Austad 76, Mark DeBoer 77, Todd Dixon 77, Ryan Frazier 77, Pat Oropollo 77, Phil Cardin 77, Nick Rouhier 78, Ken Peterson 78, Kelly Rasmussen 78, Bruce Willits 79, Mark Wilson 79, Andy Moffett 81, Randy Goosman, Brian Brutke 84, Dustin Riggs 88.
MEN'S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Bob Harrell 71, Terry Anderson 72, John Johnson 72, Bill Atwood 75, Greg Miller 77, Tom McCracken 78, Jim Hyden 78, Richard Doyal 78, Clark Malmgren 78, Brooks Hodapp 78, Gary Brock 80, Dave Dargitz 80, Bill Doss 80, Ken Bailey 81, Tom Louzig 82, Mike Austin 83, Gene Namanny 85, Richard Melville, Jim Kauffman 90.
WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Linda Johnson 73, Carmen Akins 75, Pam Faurote 81, Sharon Schakenberg 83, Debbi Cordell 85, Kimberly Wood 87, Debbie Toney 89, Kathy Pauck 91, Traci Armitage 92, Ruth Walker 95.