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Hedges repeats as SOGC champion

There were plenty of contributing factors as Matt Hedges captured a second straight men’s regular Southern Oregon Golf Championship title Monday at Rogue Valley Country Club.

None were more significant than the one that got him to enter the 90th edition of the tournament in the first place.

Family ties.

“I guess it hasn’t really sunk in, yet,” Hedges said shortly after downing Mayson Tibbs 4 and 3 for his second championship in as many attempts over the Chandler Egan Course. “I’m definitely proud to come back here. I don’t get to play in front of my grandparents very often. That’s one of the main reasons I played was to play in front of them and my parents. I don’t know how many more times I’m going get to, so it’s pretty special.”

Hedges recently completed his college career and graduated from Cal State Monterey Bay. He’ll turn professional and play in his first tournament, the Northern California Open, next Monday.

On a busy day of championships in eight divisions, the other winners were Johnny Mansfield, men’s junior-senior; Mitch Weisberger, men’s senior; Kevin Klabunde, men’s super senior; George Mack Sr., men’s legends; Johnna Nealy, women’s; Linda Johnson, women’s senior; and Kevin Murphy, professional.

The men’s regular and junior-senior, the women’s and the professional championships were 36-hole matches. The others were 18.

Hedges credited his opponent, Tibbs, for outstanding play. Tibbs was a third-team NAIA All-American for Oregon Tech last season.

“He’s an unbelievable ball-striker,” said Hedges, “an unbelievable player. Oregon Tech is very lucky to have that quality of player.”

Hedges’ own ball striking wasn’t to his standards, but a sterling short game got him through, and he was able to match enough of Tibbs’ birdies.

“We were definitely making birdies all day,” said Hedges. “You had to make birdie to win a hole.”

He estimated he made “four or five” each in the morning and afternoon sessions.

Hedges made a couple late birdies in the morning round to snare a 3-up lead.

But it was a par 3 he made on the 15th hole after hitting through trees and bumping the ball into a bank that most thrilled him. He was left with a 10-foot putt.

“The ball was sitting on a leaf, so I didn’t know how it was going to come out,” he said. “That was a big momentum shift.”

He birdied the 16th to go 3 up and held on from there over the second 18. He got as many as 5 up.

Men’s junior-senior

Mansfield was a veritable wrecking crew in his match against Scott Wise, winning 11 and 9 after being 8 up after 18 holes.

“Everything went my way and nothing went Scott’s way,” said Mansfield. “It was just one of those days where he had a bad day and I had a great day.”

Mansfield’s strength was his driving.

“I think I hit pretty much every fairway,” he said. “I was never in trouble, so that makes it easier, obviously.”

Mansfield played the first 18 in 3 under, using a stretch of birdies at Nos. 9, 10 and 11 to pull ahead. A par on 12 after he came within a grass blade or two of going in the water provided another win, and a 60-foot birdie putt on 16 enhanced his advantage.

Men’s senior

Weisberger posted a 4-and-3 triumph over Dave Muswieck.

Weisberger is from Klamath Falls, and Muswieck is from Grants Pass.

Men’s super senior

Klabunde secured his 10th overall championship with a 4-and-3 win over Jim Hoffman. He’s won in every division in which he’s old enough to play, the legends, for 75-and-older, being the exception.

“Double digits, baby,” he said. “I love it.”

He’ll likely be back in the seniors next year after making that pledge to his buddies.

“A lot of them are going up (to super seniors at age 65),” he said. “They want me out of there.”

Klabunde made two birdies and one bogey on his round and rated it “really solid.”

A turning point was on the eighth hole, where he pulled a 70-yard approach shot past the front pin and off the green. He was left with a difficult chip to a green scooting away.

“I’m not known as a good chipper,” he said, “but I hit probably the chip of my life and it just went to gimme range.”

The par won the hole when Hoffman bogeyed.

Klabunde was 2 up after nine and closed out the match with a sand save on No. 15.

Men’s legends

Mack added to his record number of individual crowns with his 15th, and he has them in every division. This one, 3 and 2 over Dodd Samuel, was unique for what he went through to get here.

Mack, who is from Portland, caddied for his daughter, Lara Tennant, as she claimed her second straight U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur championship Thursday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

With his first SOGC match Friday morning — as legends defending champion, he didn’t have to qualify — Mack flew home Thursday afternoon, got to Portland after 2 a.m. because of delays, changed clothes at home, then had his wife drive him to Medford. He arrived a little more than an hour before his 9 a.m. tee time.

He guesses he walked about 70 miles with his daughter.

“I was up 42 hours in a row, and I’ll tell you, it’s taken a toll on me,” said the 79-year-old. “Today I was finally tired. I played pretty well for 11 holes, then I just started fading.”

Mack went 4 up after winning 12 and 13 with pars. He lost 14 and 15 before closing out the match.

Women’s

Nealy outlasted defending champion Trina Jones, 2 and 1, for her third women’s championship and first since 2006.

“It feels good,” she said. “I haven’t won in a while. I played well during the week to get me to this spot, and I just grinded it out the last 18 holes.”

Nealy was 2 up after the first 18 holes and got it to 4 up at one point, but it was hard to shake Jones.

“The second 18 was pretty up and down,” said Nealy. “It was kind of frustrating. I was either making bogey or birdie. There weren’t a lot of pars.”

Walking 36 holes in the heat wore her out, she said.

“I was just trying to keep up with her and keep my momentum,” said Nealy, “and keep a couple up on her. So we just kept going back and forth.”

Nealy closed out the match with a par on 17.

Women’s senior

Medalist Johnson topped defending champion Marla Parmele, 2 and 1, in a match in which neither managed a 2-up lead until the end.

“I just wanted to play good golf, and she said the same thing,” said Johnson. “Whoever wins is fine with me. I think we both had that attitude. I think we got our competitive juices going and kind of pushed each other along with good golf. That happens sometimes.”

Parmele played the front in 1 under and had a 1-up lead on Johnson, who was 1 over.

Johnson credited a couple of “tasty” flop shots on the back nine, from 50 yards or in on Nos. 14 and 16, for enabling her to prevail. The first one resulted in par and a halve, and the second gave her a gimme birdie and 1-up lead.

“I told my caddie I like this shot,” said Johnson of the high cut shot with a 60-degree wedge. “I practice it all the time.”

Johnson ended the match with a par 3 on 17.

Professional

Murphy dispatched Joey Walker, 7 and 6, for his second straight crown, and said it was some of the better golf he’s played of late.

He finished with a flourish, birdieing five of the 12 holes he played in the afternoon round.

SOGC MONDAY MATCH PLAY

MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Matthew Hedges def. Mayson Tibbs 4&3.

MEN’S FIRST FLIGHT

Gauge Meadows def. Ethan DeVore 19th.

MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Zach Malina def. Logan Artner 5&4.

MEN’S THIRD FLIGHT

Brandon Chun def. Parker Shaddix 2&1.

MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT

Bryce Stiemert def. Dustin Wallace 6&5.

MEN’S FIFTH FLIGHT

Chase Schumacher def. Josh Pean 6&4.

MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT

Jordan Anderson def. Charles Walker 4&3.

MEN’S SEVENTH FLIGHT

Brian Murphy def. Ryan Pearson 1up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Johnny Mansfield def. Scott Wise 11&9.

JUNIOR-SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT

Steve Forbes def. Ryan Schaefer 4&2.

JUNIOR-SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Ralph Wallis def. Steve Tollefson 1 up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT

Eric Engelbach def. Scott Entinger 2&1.

JUNIOR-SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Brooks Gard def. Dennis Richards 1 up.

JUNIOR-SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT

Bill Savarino def. Don Shanklin 5&4.

JUNIOR-SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT

Joe Bowles def. Tom Jones 2&1.

JUNIOR-SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT

Korey Little def. Darrell Thompson 1 up.

SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Mitch Weisberger def. Dave Muswieck 4&3.

SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT

Eric Austad def. Joel Jessel 2&1.

SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Eric Artner def. Brad Heilman 1 up.

SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT

Steve Watkins def. Rich Mettler 2 up.

SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Gary Sterton def. Kevin Aquirre 5&4.

SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT

Gibb Mitchell def. Ron Harvey 1 up.

SUPER SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Kevin Klabunde def. Jim Hoffman 4&3.

SUPER SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT

Billy Crenshaw def. Doug Freeman 1 up.

SUPER SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Doug Olson def. Gregory Miller 1 up.

SUPER SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT

Chuck Kenny def. Ross Cooley 3&1.

SUPER SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

John Johnson def. Scott Saxon 1 up.

SUPER SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT

Larry Garvin def. Michael Armitage 3&2.

SUPER SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT

Michael Smail def. Bill Shevlin 1 up.

SUPER SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT

Conrad Caprez def. Brian Schmitz 2&1.

SUPER SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT

Tom Powley def. Rick McCabe 2 up.

SUPER SENIOR NINTH FLIGHT

Mike Ritchie def. Mark Fawver 4&3.

LEGENDS CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

George Mack, Sr. def. Dodd Samuel 3&2.

LEGENDS FIRST FLIGHT

Randy Kane def. Mike Trautman 1 up.

LEGENDS SECOND FLIGHT

Tom Hamlin def. Dick Entinger 3&2.

LEGENDS THIRD FLIGHT

Larry Schmaltz def. Rich Karchmer 6&5.

LEGENDS FOURTH FLIGHT

James Achenbach def. Tom Barry 1 up.

LEGENDS FIFTH FLIGHT

Alex Bellen def. David Rasmussen 3&2.

WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Johnna Nealy def. Trina Jones 2&1.

WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT

Genna Mettler def. Susie Hammitt 1 up.

WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Michele Orrico def. Laura Pinkham 2&1.

WOMEN’S THIRD FLIGHT

Shelli Bates def. Deborah Martin 19th.

SENIOR WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Linda Johnson def. Marla Parmele 2&1.

SENIOR WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT

Carolyn Turner def. Deb Stuart 1 up.

SENIOR WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Pam Schepis def. Julie Schamanek 19th.

SENIOR WOMEN’S THIRD FLIGHT

Tammie Allen def. Dana Carrigan 1 up.

PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Kevin Murphy def. Joey Walker 7&6.

PROFESSIONAL FIRST FLIGHT

Andy Secret def. Jeff Ott 7&6.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@mailtribune.com

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneJohnny Johnny Mansfield makes a putt on the fourth green to go 9 up during the final round of the Southern Oregon Golf Championships on Monday at Rogue Valley Country Club.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneLinda Johnson putts onto the 4th green during the final round at the Rogue Valley Country Club Monday.