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Stirring start to SOGC match play

Poor qualifying rounds, by their own standards, didn’t keep Eagle Point’s Lindsey Crosier and Medford’s Jerry Eklund from creating a stir Thursday during the opening round of match play at the 91st annual Southern Oregon Golf Championships.

Each barely made the field in their respective divisions, Crosier taking the 13th of 16 spots in the women’s championship bracket after a qualifying round of 86 and Eklund nabbing the last spot for the 16-deep super senior championship bracket with his qualifying 81.

Despite the long odds, each secured two of the most notable wins Thursday at Rogue Valley Country Club to move into the quarterfinal round during the valley’s premier golf tournament, proving once again that it’s not how you start but it’s how you finish.

With a steady short game, Crosier was able to upend former SOGC champion Stephanie Johns, 1 up, to build off her strong play of late, while Eklund was able to score a 2-and-1 win over medalist Marshall Holman.

“Everybody’s shocked,” said Eklund of his 16th-seeded win over Holman.

All the other medalists were able to survive the opening round of match play, with Bryce Wortman (men’s regular) scoring a 4-and-3 win over Matt Preston and Baylee Hammericksen (women’s) and Kevin Klabunde (senior men) each posting 1-up victories.

That’s not to say everything else went according to plan, especially in the men’s championship flight.

Providing upsets of their own were 30th-seeded Travis Campoy, who topped 2019 runner-up and No. 3 seed Mayson Tibbs, 1 up; No. 26 Preston Luckman, who won 2 and 1 over No. 7 Tyler Frank; No. 22 Jimmy Kelley, who beat No. 11 Jared Charbonneau, 4 and 3; No. 21 Tannon Rounsaville, who edged No. 12 Joey Rossknecht, 2 and 1; and No. 20 Craig Ronne, who scored a 4-and-3 win over 13th-seeded Jordan Highland.

Play begins today in the junior/senior and legendary men’s divisions, with the tournament wrapping up with championship matches in all divisions Monday.

For Crosier, the match play opener couldn’t have come soon enough after Wednesday’s qualifying round left a bitter taste in her mouth.

“I played terribly in my qualifier,” she said. “I should’ve been a lot higher seed. When I came in the seed I did, I thought I would be good for the first flight, but I guess I’m in the championship still.”

A women’s first flight champion in 2015, Crosier has advanced as far as the quarterfinals in the championship flight — she lost at that point to eventual champions Johnna Nealy (2019) and Daniele Giles (2016) — so she already knew she had what it takes to win Thursday.

When she finished fifth at last week’s Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships, Crosier got a motivational boost for this weekend’s SOGC. Her first round of the city championships saw Crosier post a strong 75, but Day 2 didn’t go as planned and she posted an 84 to fall into fifth, 22 strokes behind winner Hammericksen and 10 off runner-up Terry Levis.

“I should’ve been tighter than that,” said Crosier. “I did not play a good round my second day so that motivated me to play better today and improve my short game a lot, and I did. I don’t think I had a single three-putt today and I made a couple 20-footers that maybe frightened my opponent a little bit.”

Johns won the SOGC women’s and city championships titles back in 2009, but the former Ashland High and Portland State standout has largely been out of the competitive scene locally since moving to California. Being able to work remotely from her family home in Ashland allowed for her return to the field after an 11-year absence.

“She absolutely kept me on my toes and she was a pleasure to play with, too,” said Crosier of the fourth-seeded Johns. “It was a close match, I was up 3 and then she came back 3 and then we just had a dogfight the whole way through.”

The deciding factor came on the 18th and final hole with the players all square. Crosier was able to put her approach shot to within 5 feet of the cup, while Johns missed the green to the left. Two putts later, Crosier had a much-appreciated win.

“I’m super excited,” said Crosier. “I think it’s the first year where I don’t know if I have a solid shot at it but they better look out because I’ve got nowhere to go but up. I won the first flight but I’ve never won the championship flight, so here we go.”

For her efforts, Crosier earned a date Saturday against Levis, who won 1 up over former senior women’s champion LaVone Kirkwood and was the women’s champion in 2013.

Advancing in the championship bracket were former SOGC women’s champions Nealy and Trina Jones, along with Genna Mettler, Sandy Day and 2018 senior women’s champion Marla Parmele.

Mettler, the ninth seed, defeated No. 8 Linda Johnson, 1 up. Johnson is a former women’s regular and two-time women’s senior champion, including last year.

Eklund’s triumph Thursday was a “big one” in his eyes, not only because it was against a formidable foe in Holman but because he’s still working his way back from a December surgery that saw him get his left shoulder replaced.

“I’ve been trying to play once a week for the last couple months,” said Eklund, “and I’m still trying to get all the strength back.”

His game Thursday seemed to be a polar opposite to how he played during Tuesday’s qualifying round.

“It was a bad day qualifying,” said Eklund, who like Holman has been an annual mainstay late into SOGC action over the years. “I got on a bogey train and I couldn’t get off. It’s a sad feeling. It’s frustrating, but it happens.”

That definitely wasn’t the case in his opener against Holman, who took a 1-up lead after two holes but then saw Eklund birdie the fourth, seventh and ninth holes to take control.

“I just played very solid, very consistent and he had a couple bad holes,” said Eklund. “After getting ahead, I just kept plugging away. I was just trying to make pars and keep the ball in play.”

As for his No. 16 seed coming into match play, Eklund said he was honestly just thankful to get that nod.

“I could very easily have been playing in the second flight,” he said. “There were three of us at 81 and I was somehow put in the championship flight, which obviously worked out, but I could’ve been playing in the second flight and shoot 85 tomorrow. You just never know.”

Tournament scoring can be followed on golfgenius.com with the sign-in code of SOGC2020.

SOGC THURSDAY MATCHES

MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Bryce Wortman d. Matt Preston 4&3, Evan McArthur II d. Seth Walters d. 2&1, Jeremy Wu d. Ryan Girodat 4&2, David Murphy d. Alex Jacobberger 4&3, Kevin Geniza d. Ryan Suvoy 3&2, Craig Ronne d. Jordan Highland 4&3, Bryce Stiemert d. Mark McUne 3&1, Tannon Rounsaville d. Joey Rossknecht 2&1, Gerry Snyder d. Jonathan Purtzer 8&7, Joshua Wu d. Taylor Klemp 4&3, Preston Luckman d. Tyler Franke 2&1, Ethan DeVore d. Doug Reese 1 up, Travis Campoy d. Mayson Tibbs 1 up, Chris Polski d. Justin Wise 4&3, Cole Weinhold d. Craig Smith 4&2, Jimmy Kelley d. Jared Charbonneau 4&3.

MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Nicholas Daggitt d. Scott Weiland 1 up, Matthew Dachowski d. Brian Murphy 2 up, Jeremiah Paladino d. Chris Wood 5&4, Jordan Jacobs d. Craig Fox 5&4, Kyle Oldfield d. Jeremy Henson 4&2, Logan Artner d. Matt Johnson 5&4, Tyler Arnsberg d. Ian Norgan 2&1, Benjamin Purtzer d. Ryan Kantor 2&1.

MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT

Morgan Hawkins d. Scott Mettler 1 up, Michael Williamson d. Charlie Walker 3 up, Jason Hanlin d. Darrell Thompson 1 up, Kos Ray d. Jeremy Ross 6&5, Chase Schumacher d. Patrick McCormick 6&5, Levi Daily d. Matt Johnson 2&1, Owen Stark d. Kevin McDermott 2&1, Brandon Chun d. Andrew Curiel IV 1 up.

MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT

Devin Zupan d. Heykel Aouriri 3&2, Jordan Anderson d. Mick Hagert 1 up, Conner Couch d. Henry Jones 4&2, Immanuel Byrne d. Simon Ruiz 3&2, Anthony Marquez d. Scott Sterton 9 up, Taylor Quigley d. Collin Krueger 3&2, Nicholas Jones d. Adam Reed 2 up, Ryan Nicols d. Shawn Shumate 2 up.

SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Kevin Klabunde d. Stan Presley 1 up, John Justin d. Jerry Quast 1 up, Eric Austad d. Phillip Heiner 7&6, Billy Anderson d. Dave Card 6&4, Marty Morlan d. Evan McArthur 1 up, Mark Wilson d. Russ Batzer 2&1, Bob Hyer d. Ken VanDaam 2&1, Craig Knips d. Erik Doolen 3&2.

SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Gard Brooks d. Rich Mettler 2 up, Kevin Dixon d. Randy Rupert 2&1, Tom Pepple d. Todd Knapp 1 up, J Kenneth Stringer d. Brian Adolf 21st, Larry Conkings d. Lance Hunter 19th, Anthony Marquez d. Joel Jessel 10&8, Tim Trower d. Eric Hansen 3&1, Jim Collman d. Alex Mann 3&2.

SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Eric Artner d. Tom Mayer 5&4, Curt Bennett d. Greg Wojtal 5&3, Carl Wolfe d. Jeff Proulx 19th, Mark Weiss d. Gibb Mitchell 5&4, Dennie Conrad d. John Sellers 5&3, Dave Mettler d. Ron Merryman 1 up, Michael Schroeder d. Bruce Mendelson 1 up, Armando Sanchez d. Craig Schumacher 4&2.

SUPER SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Jerry Eklund d. Marshall Holman 2&1, Bob Dickey d. Paul Reynolds 7&6, Terry Smith d. John Robinson 4&3, Chris Littleton d. David Orr 2&1, Glen Clark d. Glenn Hartzheim 21st, Dave Allen d. Dan Dixon 2 up, Greg Miller d. Billy Crenshaw 5&4, Bruce Hart d. David George 1 up.

SUPER SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT

Dick Brekke d. Gary Smith 2&1, John Leuthold d. Willie Milimuka 2&1, Patrick Daggitt d. Larry Butler 2&1, John Dunkin d. Arthur Aviles 1up, Kelly Brown d. Chuck Kenney 1 up, Jim Bacigalupi d. Michael Goldman 3&2, Bill Wells d. Steve Ballback 2&1, Michael Miller d. Tom Powley 4&3.

SUPER SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT

Tony Nieto d. John Burtis 1 up, John Zupan d. John Kruesi 1 up, Brian Gross d. Jim Dankworth 4&2, Scott Mayfield d. Steven Skinner 1 up, Wayne Van Wey d. Mel Friend 2&1, Gary Bates d. Eugene Miller 6&5, Ross Cooley d. John Liston 2&1, Ken Weist d. Roger Peck 1 up.

SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT

George Parsons d. Darrell Flora, Sr. 2&1, Alex Romanowsky d. Steven Simonsen 4&2, Thomas Michaels d. David Major 5&3, Jim Hatton d. Henry Burgoyne 3&2, Mark Pagan d. Lael Collins 6&4, Scott Swendiman d. Tom Urby 1 up, Dan Kosmatka d. Steve Polus 1 up, Steve Warrington d. Stephan Alexander 1 up.

WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Johnna Nealy d. Carolyn Turner 4&3, Genna Mettler d. Linda Johnson 1 up, Lindsey Crosier d. Stephanie Johns 1 up, Terry Levis d. LaVone Kirkwood 1 up, Baylee Hammericksen d. Toni Doolen 1 up, Sandy Day d. Payton Canon 5&4, Trina Jones d. Kirsten Reed 4&3, Marla Parmele d. Laura Rommes 6&5.

WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT

Sue Hunter d. Annette VanDaam 19th, Francie Bostwick d. Barb Pinkham 1 up, Mindy Cuttrell d. Jane Conrad 2 up, Toni Watkins d. Mindy Ferris 2 up, Melinda Heiner d. Pam Schepis 1 up, Sandra Medaris d. Dana Carrigan 1 up, Leslie Gainey d. Diane Plotts 4&3, Candy Burtis d. Deb Stuart 20th.

WOMEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT

Jan Hughes d. Carolyn Collins 5&4, Laurel Kiichli d. Deanna St. Martin 6&4, Julie Schamanek d. Fawn Jones 2&1, Tonia Waldron d. Judy Brown 3&2, Cathy Trower d. Molly Mettler 1 up, Macy Aguirre d. Cindy Cravens 1 up, Deborah Martin d. Shelli Bates 3&1, Darla Allen d. Jeanne Lambson 7&5.

Have a story idea? Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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