Jones closes in on repeat
Trina Jones will go for her second consecutive women's title, while Kevin Klabunde will attempt to become the third player in the 80-year history of the Southern Oregon Golf Championships to win all three men's premier titles today at the Rogue Valley Country Club.
Jones got off to a quick start — leading 4-up at the turn — en route to a 4-and-3 victory over former winner Linda Johnson in the semifinals of the women's championship division Sunday. In the other semifinal, Ashland's Stephanie Johns took down 16-year-old St. Mary's High senior Aubrie Street, 3 and 2.
The men will crown a first-time champion this year.
In a shocker, three-time winner Brooks Newsom was defeated by 19-year-old newcomer Casey King of Blue River on the 19th hole.
In the finals, King will face 2009 Phoenix High graduate Daniel Engle, who posted a 3-and-2 victory against Ryan Schaefer of Grants Pass. In an interesting sidelight, both King and Engle, 18, will be teammates on the Oregon State University golf team this year.
Klabunde almost blew a five-stroke lead to SOGC eight-time winner George Mack of Portland but hung on for a 1-up win in the senior men's division. In a matchup of Medford golfers, Chris Littleton prevailed 2 and 1 against Terry Anderson in the other semifinal.
And in the senior women's semifinals, Bogey Loyd posted a 1-up victory over Deb Stuart and Janice Davis came out with a 3-and-2 win against Judy Johnson.
The finalists in the men's, women's and junior-senior men's divisions will play 36-hole title matches beginning at 9 this morning, while the senior men and senior women play 18-hole finals starting at 2 p.m.
Jones needed 38 holes to defeat Kelly Loeb in last year's women's championship. On Sunday, Jones avenged a loss to Johnson suffered in the 2007 semis. That year Johnson went on to win her only title.
"I couldn't get my putts to fall," said Johnson, 49, about her performance Sunday, "and that's my strong point. Trina played strong and steady."
Johnson took an early lead against Jones with a birdie on the opening hole. Jones squared the match on No. 2, then picked up momentum by winning a string of holes to lead by five after the 12th. The match ended on the par-3 15th, when Johnson couldn't sink a 15-foot birdie putt.
"I played solid," said Jones. "I was 1-over on the day."
While Jones and Johnson have played against each other numerous times over the years, the 45-year-old Medford native doesn't have much of a history against the younger Johns. Jones did defeat the 22-year-old Portland State golfer on the 18th hole of last year's semifinals.
Looking ahead to today's finals, Jones said: "Thirty-six holes is a lot of golf. I just have to be patient. If I play the way I did today, I'll be fine."
Johns is hungry for her first title in her third appearance in the SOGC. She is coming off a victory in last week's Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships.
"I've never made it to Monday before," said Johns. "I'm pretty excited. I'd love to win it this year. I don't know what I'll be doing after I graduate so this could be my last year here in a while."
Klabunde will be looking to join Mack and the legendary Ed Godden as the only other golfer to win men's championships in the top flight of the regular, junior-senior and senior divisions. It's the first year Klabunde has been eligible to play in the senior division.
Klabunde, 55, was cruising against Mack, leading by five after the 11th hole. But Mack demonstrated his championship pedigree by mounting a late rally. The 69-year-old golfer from Portland had a chance to square the match with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
"At least I made it competitive," said Mack, who has a men's regular, six junior-senior and one senior title to his credit. "(Klabunde) is by far the best player in our division."
Klabunde, the 2001 men's and 1996 and 1998 junior-senior SOGC champion, was just shaking his head over his near collapse. The North Medford High golf coach watched his lead dwindle to one going into the final hole after bogeys at 16 and 17.
"I was leaking oil toward the end," said Klabunde. "It's so difficult when you're playing under some pressure. Tournament golf is a lot different than playing with your buddies.
"It's ironic," continued Klabunde. "(Mack) is one of two to win all three divisions. He could have stopped me from doing that today."
Daniel Engle d. Ryan Schaefer 3 and 2; Casey King d. Brooks Newsom 1 up
Tommy Smith d. Greg Findley 2 up; Ryan Hawkins d. Justin Azevedo 2 and 1
Jon Robinson d. Justin Wise 19th; Thomas Avalon d. Kyle Freeman 3 and 2
David Hoff d. Greg Jones 4 and 3; Kelly Owen d. Justin Duncan 4 and 3
Aaron Rayburn d. Shane Sevcik 2 and 1; Mike Nieto d. Brent Barr 6 and 5
Andy Badia d. Orette Facey 1 up; Bryan Brutke d. Jeremy Burrows 1 up
Jason Cox d. Rob Neff 19th; Eric Ford d. Eddie Bostwick 4 and 3
Garrett Doolen d. Keith Lallo 3 and 2
Chris Adderson d. Dave Cuttrell 20th; Steve Ferreira d. John Ausland 3 and 2
Glen Johannes d. Fritz Schuler 2 and 1; Scott Reed d. Joe Mahar 1 up
Richard Buchler d. Matt Hanson 6 and 4; Thomas Hamlin d. Tom Jones 1 up
Jim Stormo d. Jeff Childreth 1 up; Nic Corbett d. Lynn Knight 1 up
Jerry Eklund d. Jim Mansfield 2 and 1; Brad Bills d. Marty Morlan 4 and 3
Glen Clark d. Pat Moore 3 and 2; Dave Kaplan d. Tom Pepple 1 up
Glenn Kilroy d. Dennis Slattery 1 up; Gary Loeb d. Gary Sterton 4 and 3
Brent Orrico d. Robert Husel 1 up; Scott Swendiman d. Matt McMillan 5 and 4
Steve Ausland d. Tom Hall 1 up; Doug Hartley d. Russ Batzer 3 and 1
Pete Nikolich d. Rick McCabe 1 up; Steve Watkins d. Roger Peck 1 up
Rich Warner d. Terry Buntin 1 up; Jim Palazzolo d. Gary Glass 1 up
Tim Mort d. Mike Snyder 5 and 4; Kevin Aguirre d. Bob Watson 1 up
Steve Ekwall d. Tony Nieto 2 up; Mitch Sorenson d. John Lawton 1 up
Derek Davis d. Dan Fowler 2 and 1; Mike Confer d. Gregg Rupert 1 up
Kevin Klabunde d. George Mack 1 up; Chris Littleton d. Terry Anderson 2 and 1
Jerry Cochrane d. Steven Welch 3 and 2; John Dunkin d. Scott Weaver 1 up
Rick Hassmann d. David Williams 1 up; Jim Garrison d. John Kruesi 1 up
Dan Leary d. Bill Drewin 5 and 4; Larry Brown d. Ward Moyer 2 and 1
Trina Jones d. Linda Johnson 4 and 3; Stephanie Johns d. Aubrie Street 3 and 2
Jen Ausland d. Kathy Pauck 19th; Claudia Robbs d. Mo McFaddin 2 and 1
Kelly Hegeman d. Tina Blum 5 and 3; Wynter Hite d. Cris Kohler 7 and 5
Makenna Clark d. Patti Ward 5 and 4; Toni Winters d. Barb Stormo 1 up
Bogey Loyd d. Deb Stuart 1 up; Janice Davis d. Judy Johnson 3 and 2
Marianne Metzger d. Janice Crenshaw 3 and 1; Chrissy Bayless d. Jan Hughes 2 up
Paula Cracraft d. Teri Mayer 2 and 1; Janet Stark d. Peggy Tomlins 1 up
Pam Turnipseed d. Stephanie Heilman 2 and 1; Becky Barry d. Coral Edwards 2 and 1
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org