Engle emerges victorious against veterans
In the middle of the congratulatory cheers, handshakes and pats on the back stood a teenager, whose shy grin engulfed his face.
Not only was Dan Engle the winner of the men's division at the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championship at the Centennial Golf Club on a sunny Sunday afternoon but the recent Phoenix High School graduate topped many of his childhood idols in the process.
"This is probably one of the biggest tournaments I've won," Engle said. "A lot of the local guys I looked up to since I was 11 years old, it was fun playing against them."
Engle, who entered the second and final day with a two-stroke lead — which he maintained most of Sunday — overcame his self-inflicted nerves in the final holes to shoot a 3-under par 69 for the second consecutive day.
"On the back nine, every putt starts to matter a little bit more," he said. "I shot even par on the back nine and I think the back is an easier nine."
His competitors didn't notice. Donning a Tiger Wood's Sunday special red shirt and a slight sunburn, Engle was the most consistent player, veteran Glen Clark said.
"I would say for everybody that played, he probably made the fewest mistakes and he putted magnificently," said Clark, who shot a 1-under 71 both days to finish in third place.
Clark, who played in Engle's group on Sunday, kept the pressure on Engle and the focus off a guy in the group ahead — Mike Barry.
Barry, a former North Medford High School graduate who will be a senior at Oregon State University, rebounded from a difficult first few holes on Saturday to shoot a 4-under 68 on Sunday — the lowest score.
Barry singled out missed opportunities and bad shots on holes one, three and eight on Saturday that cost him a chance of being in the last group with Engle on Sunday, which would have allowed the two to pressure one another during that final round.
Barry finished the tournament at 4 under, two strokes behind Engle.
"My front nine yesterday was pretty brutal," said Barry, who was also the runner-up last year. "That was probably the nine holes that got me.
"Last year I lost to Kevin (Klabunde) and this year I'm losing to Dan and they're both great people. So it's hard to get mad."
In the end it was too much to overcome for the steady Engle, who compared the tournament victory to winning the Class 4A state title in May.
"It kinda felt like state for me where I had the first-day lead and I was playing well, so I expected to shoot good," said Engle, who plans to walk on to the golf team at Oregon State this fall.
The model of consistency was Stephanie Johns, who claimed her third straight ladies division title.
In fact, Johns won by 20 strokes for the second year in a row and her 7-under 137 was the lowest two-day score of anyone in the tournament.
"That course really suits my game," said Johns, a graduate of Ashland High School. "I just feel really comfortable out there.
"I like that there's not a lot of trees out there. The greens always roll well and are true. They had them running great this week. They were fast."
Johns was one of many competitors who were very complimentary of the condition of the course, which seemed to offer a great opportunity to post low scores.
Jim Hoffman's two-day score of 4-over 148 won the senior division by eight strokes, while Jon Paauwe claimed the super senior division by four strokes with a 1-over 145.
Engle, Barry and Johns were among the golfers who said they would be competing at the next big golf tournament in the area — the 80th annual Southern Oregon Amateur Golf Championships, which begins with qualifying at the Rogue Valley Country Club on Tuesday.
The match play tournament runs Thursday through Monday, Sept. 7.
At Centennial Golf Club
MENS DIVISION (TOP 10) — 1, Dan Engle 69-69—138; 2, Mike Barry 72-68—140; 3, Glen Clark 71-71—142; 4, Bryan Bealer 72-71—143; 5, Derek Zwagerman 71-73—144; 6, Kyle Blesser 75-73—148; 7, Kevin Klabunde 72-76—148; 8, Jay Klemp 75-73—148; 9, Marty Morlan 74-75—149; 10, Jon Mygrant 73-76—149.
MENS FIRST FLIGHT GROSS (TOP 4) — 1, Robert Holland 150; 2, Kevin Wu 154; 3, John Huizinga 156; 4, Phil Cadrin 158.
MENS FIRST FLIGHT NET (TOP 4) — 1, DL Richardson 134; 2, John Kandaris 145; 3, Dick Taylor 146; 4, Dewayne Robinson 146.
MENS SECOND FLIGHT GROSS (TOP 4) — 1, Boomer Marshall 160; 2, Conde Cox 161; 3, Ron Reames 171; 4, Jim Palazzolo 174.
MENS SECOND FLIGHT NET (TOP 4) — 1, Brad Dill 134; 2, Steve Robertson 144; 3, Jeff Hamlett 146; 4, Brian Carr 147.
SENIOR MENS FIRST FLIGHT GROSS (TOP 4) — 1, Jim Hoffman 146; 2, Bob Dickey 154; 3, Jim Anderson 154; 4, Pat Daggitt 155.
SENIOR MENS FIRST FLIGHT NET (TOP 4) — 1, Greg Miller 138; 2, Dick Brekke 140; 3, Dave Stiemert 142; 4, Rich Larsen 142.
SENIOR MENS SECOND FLIGHT GROSS (TOP 4) — 1, Greg Dipple 162; 2, Jim Hatton 163; 3, Arn Wihtol 163; 4, Nick Viani 169.
SENIOR MENS SECOND FLIGHT NET (TOP 4) — 1, Wayne Tait 131; 2, Bruce Fauble 135; 3, Rod Reid 141; 4, Mike Jantzer 145.
SUPER SENIOR MEN GROSS (TOP 3) — 1, Jon Paauwe 145; 2, Bill Seymour 149; 3, Bob Harrell 150.
SUPER SENIOR MENS NET (TOP 3) — 1, Doug Rowe 132; 2, Len Renfer 133; 3, Denny Sweet 136.
LADIES GROSS (TOP 3) — 1, Stephanie Johns 137; 2, Linda Johnson 157; 3, Gayle Jantzer 170.
LADIES NET (TOP 3) — 1, Gail Jones 140; 2, Linda Scott 143; 3, Ruth Walker 147.
Reach reporter Shawn Miller at 776-4469, or e-mail email@example.com