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Cedar Links readies for last hurrah

City championship figures to be the golf course's last big event

The last big tournament in the history of Cedar Links Golf Course may well occur this weekend.

And many of the roughly 120 players in the Medford City Championships will tap into fond memories at the course, which for years was the lone regulation-sized public option for the city's golfers.

The two-day tournament is Saturday and Sunday.

Long a precursor to the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament, the event features a particularly strong field in the men's division, where a smattering of plus handicappers and a bushel of 5-or-better players reside.

Bret Breeze returns to defend the men's title, as do Terry Anderson in the senior men's and Carmen Akins in the women's.

— A proposal is in place to turn the golf course into a housing development, which could make this Cedar Links' last hurrah.

That's the way it looks, says Jason Jantzer, whose family has owned the course since it opened as a nine-holer in 1972. It was expanded to 18 holes in 1989.

Anderson recalls the 10 years he spent learning the game at Cedar Links before he and others were lured by a Rogue Valley Country Club membership drive in the early 1990s.

He and friends would gather at Cedar Links after work and on weekends.

I'm sorry to see it go away, he says. It's a mid-level golf course that high handicappers can enjoy as well as low handicappers. It's a course that is easily walked and a course that you don't have to be an 'A' level player to go out and have a good time.

There was some question as to whether the course would stage the city tournament this year.

Jantzer, who has spent a lot of time on the development plans, eventually decided to go ahead with it at the behest of a number of players.

Before that, however, Breeze and George Daves were on their way to winning the George Huggins Memorial Chapman Tournament in July when they birdied the difficult par-4 seventh hole.

Nobody birdies No. 7 in a Chapman, says Breeze. We were laughing about it because we thought it would be the last time we ever played it, and we birdied.

When Daves learned Breeze was playing this week, he called his partner and encouraged him to finish up with another birdie.

The hole will continue to be a topic of conversation long after the course closes, says Anderson.

That's the toughest par 4 in the state of Oregon, he says.

One concern among players is that the tournament lives on after the course shuts down. A feasible alternative would be to move it to Stone Ridge Golf Club, where head professional Scott Lusk now works.

Lusk left Cedar Links in October after nearly three decades at the course and was the driving force behind the city tournament, which began in 1984 as the Cedar Links Open and has also been known as the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships.

Lusk has been in contact with tournament sponsors, he says, and hopes to be able to take it over next year.

There's a good possibility it will happen, he says.

For now, it's at Cedar Links, where Breeze and the other defenders hope to claim one more victory.

Breeze is in the midst of an extensive swing change, one that began last year, and is neither guaranteeing nor ruling out a repeat title.

He makes solid contact, he says, but is occasionally uncertain where the ball is headed or whether he has the right club.

The reality is, I'm writing off the tournament season, he says, referring to the country club championship, the city tourney and the Southern Oregon. I have a hard time competing with guys who are comfortable with they way they're swinging at it.

But that doesn't mean that in two rounds, if I find it at the right time ... that's really what happened last year.

A year ago, Breeze edged Brooks Newsom by one shot. Glen Clark, Terry Fretz, Rick Dimick, Jay Klemp, Steve Wood and Brad Bills were also in the running and are expected to play this weekend.

Anderson says he hasn't played especially well of late, but that never seems to mean too much. I'm just a journeyman golfer. I never have great expectations, I just hope for the best.

Anderson edged John Johnson by two strokes last year. Other perennial senior challengers are Bob Harrell and Dan Dixon.

Cedar Links readies for last hurrah"ttrower@mailtribune.com.

Bret Breeze, the defending champion of the Medford City Championships men?s division, will face stiff competition as he attempts to repeat Saturday and Sunday at Cedar Links Golf Course.