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Klabunde leads with 66 in SOGC qualifying

Familiarity bred anything but contempt for Kevin Klabunde in the opening qualifying round of the Southern Oregon Golf Championships at Rogue Valley Country Club Tuesday.

Klabunde, returning to his home course after a weekend tournament at a neighboring facility, found the greens and the rest of the surroundings to his liking and shot his age -- a 6-under 66 on the Rogue Course -- to assume front-runner status for medalist honors in the men’s senior division.

Klabunde, who has captured 10 men’s championships and has won them in every division except the legends, made the turn at even par, then churned out seven birdies on the back nine.

“It feels so much more comfortable being on greens that I know,” said Klabunde, who competed in the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships at Centennial Golf Club Saturday and Sunday. “I got over there and I made one 10-footer in two days of the tournament. I never made anything over there.

“Now I’m on greens I know a little better, and the greens are in good shape. They’re running really nice.”

Klabunde usurped the top spot from Marty Morlan, who shot 71. Bob Hyer was third with a 73.

Local men qualified on Tuesday, while out-of-town men and all women qualify Wednesday.

Match play begins on Thursday and continues through Monday, when championships in all divisions and flights from the 312-player field will be contested.

In the men’s regular division, St. Mary’s senior-to-be Bryce Stiemert shot an even-par 72 to take command. He was one shot in front of Jeremy Wu and two in front of Jordan Highland.

In men’s junior-senior, Bret Breeze and Jake Rockwell each tallied 73s.

In men’s super senior, Marshall Holman turned in a 71, followed by Glen Clark’s 73 and Greg Miller’s 74.

In legends, Al Raduski fashioned a 75 and Larry Garvin a 76.

Klabunde captured the super senior last year, then dropped back down to the senior.

He had a relatively nondescript front nine.

“I didn’t do anything special, just made a lot of pars,” he said.

His one birdie was offset by a bogey on the par-5 eighth, when he had 60 yards in and flew his approach over the green.

Soon, the birdie barrage came: Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13. On 14, he two-putted from 50 feet for par, and he revisited the birdies with a 35-foot putt at 15.

At the par-5 16th, he smashed a drive and had only 112 yards to the pin, but he was behind a large tree and had to get creative. He wrapped a shot around the tree, came up just short of the green, then chipped to within a foot.

Klabunde’s lone hiccup on the back was a three-putt bogey from above the hole on 17, but he responded with a 10-foot birdie putt that had 18 inches of break.

Klabunde guesses he’s been medalist a handful of times. More significant is the draw for match play.

“It means a good draw,” he said. “The top of the bracket, that’s a good place to be.”

Stiemert is playing in his second SOGC. A year ago, he managed an 81 in qualifying, then ran it out to win the fourth flight.

Now, he’s the lead dog.

“My putting was solid all through the round,” said Stiemert. “I made some really good par saves. It’s a pretty hard course, so you’re leaving yourself some pretty hard up and downs if you’re not in the fairway consistently. I was able to manage my misses pretty well and make some putts.”

His lengthiest putt was about a 40-footer from the back right of the par-3 11th green, resulting in one of his two birdies.

The other birdie was a 12-footer on No. 3.

Next, it’s on to match play as one of the higher seeds, depending on what happens in Wednesday’s qualifying.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with some high level competitors this week,” he said.

Because of COVID-19, spectators are not allowed on the course. However, tournament scoring can be followed on golfgenius.com with the sign-in code of SOGC2020.

SOGC Qualifying

MEN’S REGULAR

Bryce Stiemert 72, Jeremy Wu 73, Jordan Highland 74, Taylor Klemp 77, Justin Wise 77, Alex Jacobberger 78, Ryan Girodat 78, Mark McUne 79, Ryan Suvoy 79, Travis Campoy 79, Matt Preston 80, Scott Weiland 80, Jeremiah Paladino 82, Jordan Jacobs 82, Ryan Kantor 82, Matt Johnson 82, Brian Murphy 83, Logan Artner 83, Craig Fox 84, Chris Wood 85, Morgan Hawkins 86, Nicholas Daggitt 86, Chase Schumacher 86,

Kevin McDermott 86, Jason Hanlin 87, Kos Ray 88, Matthew Johnson 90, Charles Walker 90, Michael Williamson 91, Levi Daily 91, Jeremy Ross 93, Darrell Thompson 94, Patrick McCormick 95, Devin Zupan 95, Connor Couch 96, Immanuel Byrne 96, Shawn Shumate 96, Mick Hagert 97, Jordan Anderson 97, Taylor Quigley 98, Simon Ruiz 99, Adam Reed 101, Henkel Aouriri 103.

MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR

Jake Rockwell 73, Bret Breeze 73, Todd Couch 75, Brandon Crosier 75, Mike Snowden 78, David Cuttrell 80, Joe Bowles 81, Larry Miller 81, Eric Linerud 81, Brian Murphy 83, Benny Shapiro 83, James Russell 84, Jeff Morgan 86, Joe Davis 87, Ralph Wallis 87, Todd Ostenson 88, Milo Smith 88, Kevin Primerano 91, Jason Rowan 91, Mike Walker 92, Jason Miller 92, Philip Smith 92, Ron Stranahan 92, Chris DuFour 93, Michael Burrill 95, Scott Van Wey 96, Simon Ruiz 99, Ceasar Espino 101, James Figueroa 105.

MEN’S SENIOR

Kevin Klabunde 66, Marty Morlan 71, Robert Hyer 73, Phillip Heiner 76, Craig Knips 77, Russ Batzer 78, John Justin 78, Jerry Quast 78, Mark Wilson 78, Dave Card 79, Eric Austad 79, Evan McArthur 80, Brian Adolph 82, Kevin Dixon 83, Randy Rupert 83, Alex Mann 84, J. Kenneth Stringer 85, Tim Trower 86, Eric Artner 88, John Sellers 89, Carl Wolfe 92, Mark Weiss 92, Greg Wojtal 94, Craig Schumacher 97, Gibb Mitchell 97, Jeff Proulx 97, Bruce Mendelson 98, Dennie Conrad 99.

MEN’S SUPER SENIOR

Marshall Holman 71, Glen Clark 73, Greg Miller 74, John Robinson 76, Chris Littleton 76, David George 78, David Allen 79, Paul Reynolds 79, Bob Dickey 79, Dan Dixon 79, Terry Smith 80, Billy Crenshaw 80, Glenn Hartzheim 80, Gary Smith 81, Kelly Brown 81, Jerry Eklund 81, Bill Wells 82, Patrick Daggitt 82, Michael Goldman 83, John Leuthold 83, Jim Bacigalupi 84, Michael Miller 85, Arthur Aviles 85, Larry Butler 86, Steve Ballback 86, Dick Brekke 87, John Zupan 88, Gary Bates 89, Mel Friend 90, John Liston 91, Brian Gross 92, Tony Nieto 92, Wayne Van Wey 92, Eugene Miller 93, Darrell Flora, Sr 94, John Kruesi 94, Mark Pagan 95, Thomas Michaels 96, Jim Hatton 96, Steve Warrington 97, Ken Weist 97, Alex Romanowsky 99, Tom Urby 99, Stephen Alexander 100, Dan Kosmatka 102.

LEGENDS

Al Raduski 75, Larry Garvin 77, Bob Harrell 82, Bruce Van Zee 83, Tom Hamlin 83, Ron Dixon 86, Dar Wolber 88, Sid DeBoer 89, Len Merryman 92, Al Carlson 93, Warren Parke 94, John Maurer 94, Robert Hutchins 95, John Ferris 96, Michael Trovato 96; Rich Karchmer 97, Alex Bellen 100.

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

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Johnny Mansfield hits a putt on the green of the 3rd hole at the Rogue Valley Country Club Tuesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Jeremy Wu chips onto the 1st green at the Rogue Valley Country Club Tuesday.