Geniza claims city crown
Some wondered why Kevin Geniza, a Corvallis native and University of Oregon golfer, would come to Medford for the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships.
Now the question is, why wouldn’t he?
Geniza, who played as high as the No. 2 man for the Ducks as a junior last season, kicked into high gear over a five-hole stretch and won the men’s division Sunday at Centennial Golf Club.
He played holes 7 through 11 in 6 under par to pull away from Tommy Smith and Mark Wilson Jr. Geniza shot 3-under 69, giving him a two-day total of 8-under 136 in the city championships.
Smith was second, turning in a 70 for a 139, and Wilson was third following a 74 for a 142.
Geniza’s victory was only his second in the past three years. The other one? It was at Centennial, too, when he claimed the 2016 Oregon Golf Association stroke play title.
“It feels really good,” said Geniza. “I’ve been close a couple times the last two summers in local OGA events.”
In other divisions, John Mansfield captured the men’s senior crown, shooting a 71 for a 138 total. He won by 10 shots over Marty Morlan, Dave Schoenmann and Brad Bills.
Kevin Klabunde, the senior winner a year ago, moved to the super senior division and also cruised. His 70 gave him a 138 and a 10-stroke victory over Wade Bird.
Peyton Cannon, a sophomore on the Oregon Tech golf team in Klamath Falls, rolled to a 12-stroke victory in the women’s division. A 71 on Sunday put her at 145. Carolyn Turner was second.
Geniza worked as an intern in Eugene for four weeks and didn’t get much time to play this summer. With the Ducks’ fall season approaching, he was looking for “reps in competition,” he said.
A contributing factor in coming south is his close relationship with the golfing Wu family, with whom he stayed.
“I’d heard of this tournament for a long time from Dylan (Wu),” he said.
Geniza was the favorite, but through six holes of the second round, he hadn’t been able to separate from the field. He and Smith were tied at 4 under, and Wilson was a stroke back.
“I struggled with my speed all weekend,” Geniza said of putting. “I was trying to get my holing speed, especially from 30 feet, trying not to have 10 feet coming back.”
His putting worked fine during the hot streak.
Geniza rammed home a 25-footer on No. 7, made an 11-foot birdie on 8, then got up and down from a bunker on 9 despite short-siding himself to the left.
“I did see flashes of my usual short game,” he said. “It’s usually pretty sharp.”
At 10, it was a 15-foot birdie putt, and on 11, he crushed a drive on the par 5 and had only a 9-iron left from 155 yards. He stuck his approach to 8 feet below the cup and drained the putt for an eagle 3.
He gave a couple back with bogeys on 15 and 18, in part to putting.
“I was hitting some spots to where I couldn’t miss and had to putt or chip defensively,” said Geniza. “I was kind of frustrating myself. It’s good that I saw that because I know I have to work on it.”
Mansfield, playing in his first city championships, got off to a strong start and had little pressure.
“It’s a little difficult sometimes when you’ve got a five-shot lead,” said the 54-year-old. “That was a bit tricky. I was just trying to stay in the process or in the moment and go shot by shot.”
He made a two-putt birdie on No. 2 and an 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 3 to kick-start his round. Another birdie at the ninth got him to 1 under on the front.
He made three birdies and three bogeys on the back.
Mansfield dealt with a rotator cuff injury for about three years and is now getting back into golf, he said.
“I’m starting to get some mobility back, some strength in my shoulder,” he said. “I’m starting to hit the ball better a little bit.”
“Shooting under par two days in a row is great for me,” he added.
Klabunde shot a career-best 10-under 62 in the practice round on Friday. A 68 in the first round Saturday gave him a sizable lead.
On Sunday, after playing the front nine in 1 over, he dialed it in for a 33 on the back to close with a 70.
He called the front nine “a little rocky.”
“I didn’t putt quite as well today as I have been,” he said, “so that was part of my problem. It was fine, it was solid. I had a six-shot lead so I wasn’t really too pressed. But that’s no excuse for shooting 1 over on the front.”
His putting improved on the back nine, and he had a couple good looks at eagle on Nos. 13 and 16.
“I just couldn’t get them to drop,” he said.
Cannon, who is originally from Denver, was an all-Cascade Collegiate Conference player for the Owls and tied for 17th in the NAIA national championships.
She was 1 over on the front nine but birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to move under par for the day.
“It felt solid,” she said. “The putts just weren’t dropping. Then on the back nine, I was hitting them a little closer to the hole.”
At 18, she clubbed down to avoid a front bunker and knocked a 7-iron to within 9 feet from 160 yards.
ROGUE VALLEY STROKE PLAY CHAMPIONSHIPS
GROSS: Kevin Geniza 67-69—136, Tommy Smith 69-70—139, Mark Wilson Jr. 68-74—142, James Kelley 76-68—144, Riggs Loftin 73-72—145, Taylor Klemp 72-74—146, Camden Chose 76-73—149, David Murphy 75-74—149, Jared McBride 74-75—149, Tyler Mulligan 70-79—149.
GROSS: Kristopher Kaufman 75-78—153, Michael Forney 74-79—153, Jake Rockwell 79-76—155, Jeremiah Paladino 81-75—156, Eric Bruhn 77-80—157, Alex Jacobberger 84-78—162, Kameron Kaufman 81-81-162, Steve Tollefson 87-77—164, Clint Gridley 83-84—167, Doug Bornemann 80-90—170.
GROSS: John Mansfield 67-71—138, Marty Morlan 74-74—148, Dave Schoenmann 75-73—148, Brad Bills 72-76—148, Dan Keck 76-73—149, Glen Clark 79-71—150, Mark Wilson Sr. 74-77—151, Marshall Holman 74-77—151, Kelly Rasmussen 79-73—152, Kevin Croucher 77-76—153.
GROSS: Brian Paulsen 81-77—158, Eric Hansen 80-80—160, Chris Stark 86-79—165, Kevin Williams 86-81—167, Charles McGarry 79-90—169, Jeff Hamlett 82-89—171, Andy Read 86-91—177, Bill Walton 87-90—177, Mike Dauenhauer 98-81—179, John Tracy 92-88—180, Kazuji Sato 89-91—180, Rob Verdie 89-91—190.
Super Senior Division
GROSS: Kevin Klabunde 68-70—138, Wade Bird 74-74—148, Robert Cox 76-73—149, Jim Hoffman 74-77—151, John Johnson 76-75—151, Steve Boldish 75-78—153, Pat Daggitt 74-80—154, Ken Weist 77-78—155, Steve Josephson 75-81—156, Don Sever 77-79—158.
GROSS: David Allen 75-80—155, Phil Brown 78-78—156, Norm Hall 82-79—161, Nick Viani 84-77—161, Jim Hatton 77-86—163, Mike Moylan 86-80—166, Dennis Murphy 80-87—167, Paul Reynolds 78-90—168, Rod Reid 83-89—172, David Stiemert 88-86—174.
GROSS: Peyton Cannon 74-71—145, Carolyn Turner 79-78—157, Lindsey Crosier 89-78—167, Sandy Day 87-80—167, Lee Ann Loftin 89-96—185, Darla Allen 94-93—187, Marnie Binney 95-93—188, Laurel Kiichli 98-98—196, Deanna St. Martin 96-106—202.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org