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Good Grief: Snoopy putter foils Newsom

All the untold joys and experiences fatherhood can bring took a different twist Sunday afternoon, much to the chagrin of Brooks Newsom.

Vying to become only the third four-time men's winner in the championship flight of the Southern Oregon Golf Championships, Newsom found his path foiled by an innocent discovery and a formidable foe in defending champion Casey King.

Using the local golf tournament as a yearly excuse to visit relatives here in Medford, Newsom went all out this year with 11-year-old son Coleman as his caddie, 6-year-old Grady as his towel boy and 12-year-old daughter Nina as his No. 1 fan.

Everything was going along pretty normal during his semifinal match at Rogue Valley Country Club, then the unimaginable took place. After Newsom teed off on the third hole and headed back to his golf bag, Coleman noticed a water bottle down in the bag and proceeded to take it out. The discovery of the bottle was fine, but what rested nearby set the wheels in motion toward a potential disqualification for Newsom — and he knew it.

The implement of doom? Grady's Snoopy putter.

"Who knows? It's probably been in there for at least six months," Newsom said later of his 15th club, one over the maximum allowed.

Newsom immediately put in a call to tournament director and RVCC head professional Jim Wise for a ruling and braced for the bad news. The result was a two-hole penalty which, although undermining in match play, was music to Newsom's ears.

"I thought I was DQ'd so I was happy that I was going to be able to continue to play to tell you the truth," said Newsom. "It wasn't a disappointment losing two holes on that because I thought I was done."

The second chance was certainly fitting, but didn't matter much thanks to King's steady play in only his second appearance at the 81st annual SOGC. The Oregon State standout carded an eagle on the seventh hole and birdied hole Nos. 9-11 to take a commanding lead and eventually win 5 and 4.

"Fortunately (the penalty) didn't make any difference today," Newsom said with a smile. "Casey played really well. I definitely didn't play poorly, so it's definitely a round where he beat me."

King was steady off the tee and solid on his approach shots throughout, recognizing what kind of day it would take to upend Newsom.

"I knew coming in I would have to play better than I did the first three matches to win," he said. "I kinda caught fire there for a stretch and after that I just figured if I give myself chances for par and make some putts then I would be fine."

As for the odd start to his semifinal with Newsom?

"If it was up to me, I wouldn't have penalized him at all because it had absolutely no effect," said King. "But that just shows the kind of guy he is and his character. That was just a really unfortunate deal."

On the flip side, the breaks gained by King kept on coming. On his eagle, the 20-year-old junior called his drive "lucky" after it settled about 150 yards from the green on a shot he didn't think he hit very well. He then took aim at the middle of the green but pulled his 9-iron a little, only to have good fortune shine on him again as the ball stopped about 6 feet past the hole. A lag putt later, King was firmly in control.

The Blue River standout will need more of the same today if he's going to repeat his championship. Standing in opposition will be Medford's Mike Barry, who won the men's crown in 2007 and '08 and secured his spot in the finals with a 6-and-5 win over Travis Brink.

"I'm looking forward to it," King said of the all-Beaver final. "It's going to be a great match if we both play like we can. Obviously he's got the course knowledge on me but it'll be fun."

Fresh off his runaway win at the city championships, Barry kept the pressure on Brink and gradually pulled away for the semifinal victory.

"I played pretty solid and Travis didn't have one of his best days," said Barry. "He played great yesterday and it was just a matter of him making a few poor swings this morning that cost him some bogeys and I was able to win holes with pars. In 18 holes, when you get down a couple holes early, it's tough to battle back."

For Brink, just getting to the semifinals made his tournament experience worthwhile.

"Playing Mike's always fun because he's a great guy and there's not much to lose," he said. "It's been an interesting week for me. I'm a 6-handicap playing with these guys going to college, so it's been fun to make it here."

"I played more like myself today rather than not the previous three days," added Brink. "I'm happy with what I got. It was a good tournament."

Barry said he and King played together quite a bit this past year at Oregon State and there's definitely a mutual respect between the players.

"He's a helluva player," said Barry. "He's the type of kid that makes par from anywhere, and that's what it takes in match play to play well."

That, and only 14 clubs in your bag.

"That's one of the times when the rules of golf are pretty ridiculous but that's how it goes," Barry added of Newsom's misfortune. "It was a tough break."

Given the circumstances, though, Newsom and company took it all in stride and remained jovial to the final conceded hole at No. 14. Following the post-match handshake, Newsom's attention returned to Grady, with club firmly in his possession once again.

"I think he's ready to go out and hit some balls," laughed the father of three. "We'll go try out that Snoopy putter."

In other championship men's action Sunday, Paul Johnson scored a 1-up win over Tommy Smith and Ken Stringer topped Dan Westbrook, 2 and 1, to set up the junior-senior final. Also, Kevin Klabunde moved closer to a possible repeat of his senior title with a 1-up win over Gary Gage and will face Glen Clark, a 2-and-1 winner over Jerry Eklund, in today's final. The super senior men took Sunday off, but John Dunkin and George Mack will duel today for the crown in the newly created division.

MEN

CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT — Casey King d. Brooks Newsom 5 and 4, Mike Barry d. Travis Brink 6 and 5.

FIRST FLIGHT — Kelly Owen d. Boomer Marshall 3 and 2, Ryan Hawkins d. David Culbertson 4 and 2.

SECOND FLIGHT — JT Compher d. Trevor Telford 2 and 1, Derek Zwagerman d. Cody Stoffel 19th.

THIRD FLIGHT — Dalton Durrell d. Peyton Lindbloom 2 up, Garrett Doolen d. Neil Smith 1 up.

FOURTH FLIGHT — Hamilton Baehr d. Perry Hunt 1 up, Adam Huycke d. Ryan Suvoy 1 up.

FIFTH FLIGHT — Mark Campbell d. Geoff Loomis 19th, Dave Judd d. Greg Findley 1 up.

SIXTH FLIGHT — Rob Neff d. Erik Pederson 2 and 1, Rick Jackson d. Bryan Brutke 4 and 3.

SEVENTH FLIGHT — David Cuttrell d. Cody Stover 2 and 1, John Purtzer d. Steve Bernard 4 and 3.

EIGHT FLIGHT — RJ Glover d. Steve Ferreira 2 up, Jake Crews d. Michael Riley 2 and 1.

NINTH FLIGHT — Brad Dill d. Matt Fisher 1 up, Jake Rockwell d. Josh Crews 6 and 5.

TENTH FLIGHT — Rick Buchler d. Mike Running 2 and 1, John Ausland d. Josh Huffman 1 up.

ELEVENTH FLIGHT — John Hernandez d. Matt Hansen 1 up, Jim Stormo d. Brian Carr 2 and 1.

JUNIOR/SENIOR

CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT — Paul Johnson d. Tommy Smith 1 up, Ken Stringer d. Dan Westbrook 2 and 1.

FIRST FLIGHT — Bill Crenshaw d. Rick McCabe 1 up, Erick Doolen d. Ron Harvey 1 up.

SECOND FLIGHT — Joel Jessel d. Bret De Forest 5 and 4, P Chitwood d. Mike Galante 1 up.

THIRD FLIGHT — Eddie Bostwick d. Chris LaBelle 4 and 3, Jim Mansfield d. David Nelson 1 up.

FOURTH FLIGHT — Rich Warner d. Tim Hornecker 1 up, Steve Ekwall d. Joe Mahar 1 up.

FIFTH FLIGHT — Don Webb d. John Kruesi 1 up, Scott Swendiman d. Eric Hansen 1 up.

SIXTH FLIGHT — Tony Nieto d. Gregg Rupert 2 and 1, d. Tom Groves d. Dave Rowland 1 up.

SEVENTH FLIGHT — Scott Knight d. Chris Miller 1 up, Mike Confer d. John Walker 1 up.

SENIORS

CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT — Kevin Klabunde d. Gary Gage 1 up, Glen Clark d. Jerry Eklund 2 and 1.

FIRST FLIGHT — Bob Dickey d. John Tomlin 2 and 1, Dan Dixon d. Randy Loyd 2 and 1.

SECOND FLIGHT — Jim Garrison d. Wah Lee 19th, Marshall Holman d. Scott Weaver 1 up.

THIRD FLIGHT — Bruce Buehler d. Doug Hartley 6 and 5, Bob Crews d. Jim Hatton 2 and 1.

FOURTH FLIGHT — Dan Fowler d. 1 up, Michael Goldman d. Fred Moran 1 up.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Casey King, right, shakes hands with rival Brooks Newsom after King won the semi-finals around of the mens championship the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament Sunday in Medford. 9/5/10 Denise Baratta