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Klabunde's win was hard-fought

What looked to be a comfortable victory for Kevin Klabunde in the men's gross division of the Rogue Valley Country Club championships was anything but.

Klabunde posted a four-stroke victory over Scott Tuttle in the three days of medal play last weekend, but he had to fend off a charge before emitting a sigh of relief and signing his scorecard.

Tuttle, who had a disastrous hole on Day 2, rebounded Sunday to get to 5 under par on the day and pull within one shot for the tournament.

"He was playing really solid golf," says Klabunde. "For somebody who doesn't play as much as he used to, he was hitting the ball awfully well."

Klabunde, who will set out to defend the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament men's championship next week, was not going quite as smoothly.

"I was kind of gagging," he says, noting that after lowering his tourney score to 4 under, he "made a couple of dumb bogeys."

The two got to the 17th hole on the original course with only one shot separating them.

Each was vying for his second club title, and neither expected the other to give an inch.

The 17th is a downhill, 191-yarder. On this day, the pin was back, pushing the distance to nearly 200 yards.

Tuttle's shot hit about a foot too long and bounded behind the green, leaving a precarious approach from the rough to a short flag on a green running the other way.

Klabunde, meanwhile, thinned his shot, then reacted in disgust.

"As soon as I hit it, I turned away and said, 'That is terrible!'" he says.

He turned around in time to watch his low shot bounce in front of the green, skedaddle up to the hole and stop within a foot.

"It was one of those shots that worked out despite the swing and the contact," he says.

Klabunde made birdie, Tuttle bogey and, with one hole left, the lead blossomed to three shots for the former.

No. 18 is a 525-yard par 5 that doglegs to the left and plays a little uphill.

"I didn't have any choice but to try to cut a huge piece of the dogleg off," says Tuttle. "I had to try to make 3, and if he by chance makes 6 ..."

As it turned out, Tuttle got caught under a tree, punched out and bogeyed. Klabunde, playing very conservatively, birdied it.

"There are an awful lot of good players at the club," says Klabunde, who also won the championship in 1996, earning the right to represent Rogue Valley in the statewide tournament for club champions. "Fifty-four holes of medal play is a real good test."

The outcome might have been different had Tuttle not had a very un-Tuttle-like 12th hole Saturday. He took a 10 on the par 5 that doglegs right and features out-of-bounds on each side.

He tried to play a cut shot on his first tee ball, but rather than curve with the fairway, it went straight.

"Double-cross," he says.

Hitting 3 from the tee, he tried simply to nestle a 2-iron to the middle of the fairway. But he came out of the shot and it went right, OB.

"I thought, 'That was fun,'" says Tuttle.

He put what counted as his fifth shot in the fairway, but it came up wearing a mud hat, influencing his next shot in such a way it wound up under a tree on the left. He finally worked his way to the green and holed out.

"I thought it was pretty funny," says Tuttle, recalling his conversation with another player who inquired about the hole. "He said, 'How could you possibly make a 10?' I said, 'Well, I missed my putt for 9.'"

There were a couple of other highlights in the tournament.

Linda Johnson shot a brilliant even-par 73 in the second round en route to the women's gross crown. Her total was 236.

Bob Buck, 78, shot better than his age twice, posting a pair of 76s in the super senior class. He won the net division but was second in gross.

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IT'S UNUSUAL FOR Jim Quincy to miss a big tournament, such as the club championships, at Rogue Valley Country Club.

After all, this is a man who has played in every Southern Oregon Golf Tournament except one dating back to 1958 - and for four of those years in the 1970s, he lived in Atlanta.

But the 74-year-old with a 9 handicap missed the club event to play in another tourney special to him, the Oregon Seniors Association Championships.

The tournament brought to Corvallis Country Club players from 33 clubs in Oregon and Washington. Playing in the, um, most veteran group, Quincy shot 79 and 81 in two qualifying rounds, then dispatched three opponents in match play to claim the grand championship.

Each of his matches went at least to the 18th hole.

In the finals, it took an extra hole for him to down Hal Light of Tualatin.

Light had a 30-foot par putt, while Quincy was faced with half that for birdie.

"I was thinking, if he misses that, all I have to do is lag up and two-putt to win the hole," says Quincy. "So he goes and drops it in. I was looking at 15-footer and dropped it right on top of him."

Quincy won 1 up over Bill Lacey in the quarterfinals and Bill Anderson in the semifinals.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com