It's another Jones-Nealy showdown
By Tim Trower
The most enjoyable round of golf Trina Jones played came in a Southern Oregon Golf Championships match against Johnna Nealy.
Jones lost that match however many years ago, but that’s not the point.
“It was a blast,” she said. “I had so much fun that match. I lost on 18, but I was 2 under par that day.”
It was the first time she dipped below par.
Nealy, part of a golf sisterhood — there have been as many as four of them in the Southern Oregon at one time — nodded her head at the notion of playing Jones and remembers conversations with her siblings.
“All my sisters are like, oh, Trina, how do we beat her,” said Nealy.
They have, of course. Last year, Jones said, was the first time she defeated both Johnna and Amanda Nealy. The three of them have each captured two SOGC women’s division championships.
Jones and Johnna Nealy will have a chance to relive their earlier epic round when they meet in the finals of the 90th SOGC today at Rogue Valley Country Club.
Jones, the defending champion, pulled off an impressive victory over long-hitting and recent Portland State graduate Shweta Mansingh, 1 up. Nealy, herself a bomber of the ball, topped former champion Terry Levis, 4 and 3.
In other semifinals to decide championship pairings today:
n Men’s regular: Defending champion Matt Hedges defeated Gerry Snyder, 2 and 1, and faces Mayson Tibbs, a 4-and-3 winner over Cameron Barnhardt.
n Men’s junior-senior: Scott Wise beat Todd Dixon, 3 and 2. Wise plays Johnny Mansfield, who downed Erik Pedesen, 2 up.
n Men’s senior: Dave Muswieck knocked off medalist Brad Bills, 4 and 3. He’ll play Mitch Weisberger, a 4-and-3 winner over Marty Morlan.
n Senior women’s: Defending champion Marla Parmele dispatched Sheri Gibson, 2 up, and takes on medalist Linda Johnson, who defeated Nettie Morrison, 3 and 2.
n Professional: Kevin Murphy, last year’s winner, beat Chris Daggitt, 4 and 3. Murphy plays Joey Walker, who downed Jessica Young, 2 and 1.
In the women’s semifinals, the 56-year-old Jones faced a stiff challenge in Mansingh, who was the No. 4 scorer on Portland State’s women’s team this past year. Mansingh routinely hit it so far, she had short wedges into greens.
“It was a good win,” said Jones. “She’s a really good player, and I just wanted to have a good match, honestly.”
Sunday and Monday matches are played on the Chandler Egan Course, finishing on the inside nine holes. It’s a difficult track with tricky greens and other nuances that could be advantageous to regular players of the course.
None of the championship flights play the inside until the semifinals.
“I knew if I could get her to this inside,” said Jones, a member of the club, before trailing off. “But I had openings and didn’t take them. So I made it way harder than it needed to be.”
Jones battled balky chipping — a phase that is normally her strength — and was 2 down until winning the ninth with an up-and-down par and the 10th when Mansingh had tree trouble.
Jones took her first lead on the 13th with a difficult par, then went 2 up on the 15th, a dastardly par 3 that gave out three putts and more as if they were candy. Her par gave her an important cushion: two of the three finishing holes play long, into Mansingh’s hands.
Jones played alongside Mansingh in qualifying and again Saturday, and she knew not to try to chase after her opponent’s big drives.
“I’ve learned to play within myself,” said Jones. “I don’t have that (distance), I just don’t. If I get sucked into that game, I’m just not going to compete. I made those mistakes years ago.”
Jones lost the 16th, made a nice chip for par and a halve on 17, then made par with two perfect shots on the 18th to leave her 100 yards from the green. Her par forced Mansingh to make birdie to square the match, but her 35-foot putt missed on the low side.
Jones cherished the victory.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Any of these, they’re a grind. I’m not in the same league as (college players). I just clawed my way around. If you look at us on paper, there’s not even a match there.”
It turns out there was, and another will unfold against Nealy.
Nealy and Levis couldn’t shake each other for the first half of their match. Nealy won the first hole, Levis the ninth, and they halved everything in between, including with birdies at the seventh.
Nealy went 1 up on the 11th, but that figured to be short-lived after she drove it into a pond on 12. However, Nealy knocked her next shot to a few feet and made par to match Levis’ 4.
“It definitely gave me some personal momentum,” said Nealy. “Going in the water on your drive, I’m like, oh my gosh. I was really happy to scramble, and I certainly had momentum on the next tee shot.”
Her huge drive left her with only 100 yards in on the long par 4, and she saved a two-putt with a 12-foot comebacker on the slick green. The par put her 2 up on Levis, and a conceded birdie on the next made it 3 up.
At No. 15, Levis was facing a four-putt when she picked her ball up in frustration and conceded the hole and match to Nealy, who had a short bogey putt.
“That was just a nasty pin placement,” said Nealy. “Nasty. I think we both just wanted off that green.”
Nealy expected to have to shoot around par to beat Levis, and she did, coming in at 1 over.
“I knew today was going to be a really tough match,” said Nealy, “because she just doesn’t make any mistakes. She gets up and down from pretty much anywhere.”
Nealy, who skipped the tournament for a few years, will vie for her first title since 2006.
Championship matches tee off from 1:50 to 3 p.m. Men’s regular, men’s junior-senior and the women’s divisions play 36 holes, with the first 18 in the morning.
SOGC SUNDAY MATCH PLAY
MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Matthew Hedges def. Gerry Snyder 2&1, Mayson Tibbs def. Cameron Barnhardt 4&3.
MEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Gauge Meadows def. Cameron Smith 2 up, Ethan DeVore def. Kristopher Kaufman 2 up.
MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Logan Artner def. Jordan Jacobs 2&1, Zach Malina def. Nick Nieto 1 up.
MEN’S THIRD FLIGHT
Brandon Chun def. Jeremiah Paladino 4&3, Parker Shaddix def. James Russell 8&6.
MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT
Dustin Wallace def. Chad Day 19th, Bryce Stiemert def. Christopher Ellis NS.
MEN’S FIFTH FLIGHT
Josh Pean def. Michael Marshall 5&3, Chase Schumacher def. Morgan Hawkins 2&1.
MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT
Charles Walker def. Brian Wilson 5&4, Jordan Anderson def. Craig Fox 4&3.
MEN’S SEVENTH FLIGHT
Ryan Pearson def. Simon Ruiz 4&2, Brian Murphy def. Jeremy Ross 4&3.
JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Scott Wise def. Todd Dixon 3&2, Johnny Mansfield def. Erik Pederson 2 up.
JUNIOR-SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Steve Forbes def. Jake Rockwell 7&5, Ryan Schaefer def. Bret Breeze 2&1.
JUNIOR-SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Steve Tollefson def. Rick Hutchins 1 up, Ralph Wallis def. Keith Lallo 19th.
JUNIOR-SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Scott Entinger def. Joe Arneson 1 up, Eric Engelbach def. Marshall Pierce 1 up.
JUNIOR-SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Dennis Richards def. Gary Pirkkala 1 up, Brooks Gard def. Tom Pepple 1 up.
JUNIOR-SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Bill Savarino def. Josh Godfrey 19th, Don Shanklin def. Ken Lindbloom 1 up.
JUNIOR-SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
Joe Bowles def. Joe Davis 3&2, Tom Jones def. Dave Mettler 1 up.
JUNIOR-SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT
Korey Little def. Kevin Primerano 3&2, Darrell Thompson def. Jad Dickson 6&5.
SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Dave Muswieck def. Brad Bills 4&3, Mitch Weisberger def. Marty Morlan 4&3.
SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Eric Austad def. Stan Presley 2 up, Joel Jessel def. James Overmeyer 1 up.
SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Brad Heilman def. Bill Cox 1 up, Eric Artner def. Brian Odell 1 up.
SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Steve Watkins def. Lance Hunter 1 up, Rich Mettler def. Mel Friend 1 up.
SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Kevin Aquirre def. Tom Urby 2&1, Gary Sterton def. Bruce Mendelson 2&1.
SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Gibb Mitchell def. Greg Wojtal 1 up, Ron Harvey def. Ron Moore 1 up.
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Trina Jones def. Shweta Mansingh 1 up, Johnna Nealy def. Terry Levis 4&3.
WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Genna Mettler def. Melinda Heiner 1 up, Susie Hammitt def. Tory Nieto 3&2.
SENIOR WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Marla Parmele def. Sheri Gibson 2 up, Linda Johnson def. Nettie Morrison 3&2.
SENIOR WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Carolyn Turner def. Jan Hughes 1 up, Deb Stuart def. Karen Fay 2 up.
SENIOR WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Pam Schepis def. Cathy Trower 1 up, Julie Schamanek def. Mary Wittenberg 1 up.
SENIOR WOMEN’S THIRD FLIGHT
Tammie Allen def. Darla Allen 1 up, Dana Carrigan def. Dana McIntosh 1 up.
PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Kevin Murphy def. Chris Daggitt 4&3, Joey Walker def. Jessica Young 2&1.
PROFESSIONAL FIRST FLIGHT
Jeff Ott def. Noah Horstman 20th, Andy Secret def. Ed Fisher 3&2.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or email@example.com