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Hawkins, Loeb among top qualifiers in SOGC

Every year, Ryan Hawkins marks the Southern Oregon Golf Championships on his calendar, and for good reason: He banks on thorough enjoyment.

His potential performance, however, was somewhat in question coming into this year’s 88th annual tournament at Rogue Valley Country Club.

A Grants Pass native, now a resident of Sherwood, Hawkins not only favors the familiar course, he looks forward to seeing familiar faces, including his dad, Ken Hawkins, who caddies for him every year. Sure, he focuses on winning, but he stays more in tune with the father-son experience and catching up with family and friends he seldom sees.

Since Hawkins hadn’t played much tournament golf this year — a new baby and an expanding business kept him away from high-level competition — heading into his qualifying round Wednesday in the men’s junior-senior division, he felt exceptionally loose due to lack of expectation.

And his easy-going attitude served him well as he earned medalist honors with a 5-under 67, his best-ever score in qualifying for the tournament.

Birdieing three of the first five holes, Hawkins started strong, avoided any major trouble — he had just one bogey, on the par-3 fourth — and set up numerous chances to sink birdie putts (six went down in total, including back-to-back on 16 and 17, while he whiffed on a few others).

His tee shots were consistent and his irons didn’t let him down, either, a pleasant outcome considering the strength of his game recently has been his putting.

“It wasn’t a grind,” Hawkins said. “I played within myself and did what I like to do. I just hit shots and went after it confidently.”

“You get on these greens and get them in the right spots, and you can be aggressive and go for some birdies,” he added.

An early tee-time, 8:06 a.m., provided favorable conditions for Hawkins, who said he thought the course was set up fairly and more soft than he expected due to increased watering.

Also, the lingering thick smoke that has dogged many players throughout the tournament wasn’t as bad as expected, said Hawkins, a two-time finalist in the men’s regular division, where he’s lost twice to three-time winner Kevin Murphy.

“It’s a little extra confidence going into match play,” said Hawkins, previously a men’s regular medalist. “It’s nice to just have a good, solid round of golf. It makes me feel good going into the rest of the week.”

Wednesday’s final qualifying included out-of-town men and women players, including Kelly Loeb, a first-time medalist with a 2-over 75.

A two-time former champion (2010, 2011), Loeb recently moved from Arizona to Eagle, Idaho, where tennis and outdoor adventures have eclipsed her time on the golf course, leading to uncertainty about her potential performance in the tournament.

“I’m just tickled pink,” Loeb said of winning medalist.

Loeb started with consecutive bogeys on the first two holes but bounced back by birdieing two of the next three. She also had a double-bogey on the 12th, but balanced that out with a pair of birdies on the 10th and 16th holes and an impressive par-saving effort on the final hole.

When faced with adversity during her round, Loeb thought about the flood victims in Texas to keep perspective.

“When I hit a bad shot, I just thought, ‘Move on,’” she said. “You’ve just got to block it out and keep on plugging.”

In the women's senior division, Carolyn Turner shot an 81 to earn medalist honors.

Doug Ward was the medalist in the men's super senior — his first year in the division — with a 71. A three-time champion in the junior-seniors, he made five birdies and three bogeys.

Chris Polski, the 2015 men’s regular champion, and Michael Borton shot 71 Wednesday afternoon to tie for medalist honors. There will be a three-hole playoff Friday afternoon to determine the medalist.

Barton played the back nine in 4-under 32, making an eagle-3 on No. 16 and birdies on the 10th and 12th holes.

Similarly, Polski caught fire on the back side, going 6 under on his final seven holes. He also made eagle at the 16th to highlight his round.

Noah Brooks, in the same group, shot 72, as did Blake Bartlett right behind them.

Match play begins today and runs through Monday.

MEN’S REGULAR

Chris Polski 71, Michael Borton 71, Blake Bartlett 72, Noah Brooks 72, Houston Knox 73, Jake Quast 75, Ryan Schaefer 76, Cody Stoffel 77, Lance Fowler 79, Cameron Barnhardt 79, Gerry Snyder 80, Alec Williamson 82, Mark Pederson 83, Eric Boucher 83, Cody Stover 84, Jake Grondin 85, Michael Green 85, Scott Cordeiro 86, Cody Kiesz 87, Nick Nieto 87, Matthew Tennant 87, Guage Meadows 90, Robert Gallli 90, Eric Bottero 92, Jeremy Ross 94, Scott Mettler 94, Josh Huffman 95, Collin Krueger 95, John Collondrez 97, John Corbett 102, Josh Godfrey 104, Stephen Odell 104, Scott Sterton 105.

MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR

Ryan Hawkins 67, Parrish Barker 70, Mark Mullaney 79, Ty Kohler 81, Tim Arnseberg 81, Tim Hornecker 81, Cameron Mitchell 82, Justin Azevedo 82, Jay Klemp 84, Derron Moreland 84, Jim Mansfield 84, Brooks Gard 84, Erick Doolen 85, Andy Baida 85, Billy Burke 86, Tom Mayer 87, Ted Stark 88, Don Shanklin 88, Scott Loyd 91, Scott Entinger 92, Ken Lindbloom 93, Brian Sherrill 93, Daryn Clark 94, Jim Retzlaff 94, Dave Mettler 97, Tom Jones 97, Michael Diehl 98, Erik Stamm 103, Lanny Binney 106.

MEN’S SENIOR

Alex Merkner 72, Lee Oltjenbruns 73, Mark Wilson 74, Bret Mackay 76, Scott Moore 77, Gary Loeb 77, Lance Hunter 77, Ken Vandaam 77, Kevin Horn 78, Stanley Presley 80, Jim Patterson 80, Kevin Croucher 81, Paul Reynolds 82, Jeff Longtain 82, Kim Cushing 82, Gary Sterton 82, Jim Smith 82, Vaughn Schneider 83, Joel Jessel 83, Jim Multerer 83, Dave Allen 84, Dwayne McIntosh 84, Darrell Hunt 86, Bob Tennant 86, Brian Odell 86, Mike McGrath 88, Rich Mettler 89, David Street 89, John Root 90, Rick McCabe 90, Greg Cotton 90, Scott Keller 91, Ron Merryman 91, Christian Carrigan 92, Tom Groves 93, Tom Wendt 94, Daniel Davis 95, Kevin Aguirre 96.

MEN’S SUPER SENIOR

Doug Ward 71, Herman Holm 74, Ron Howard 79, Brent Orrico 79, Ross Cooley 79, Jerry Sessions 79, Lang Bates 79, Ken Weist 81, Scott Mayfield 82, Gordon Empey 83, Scott Swendiman 83, John Dunkin 83, Bob Galusha 83, Stan Sherer 85, Dodd Samuel 85, Stephen Cummins 86, Bruce McDonald 86, Roger Peck 88, David Mansfield 89, Ken Linden 89, Mark Fawver 89, Dennis Bales 90, Don Mitchell 92, Cliff Barnett 92, George Parsons 93, Jim Hauck 93, Steve Skinner 93, Bob Adler 93, Gilbert Roque 915, Conrad Caprez 95, John Pesenti 97, Dwight Samuel 98, Wendell Towe 98, Rodger Campuzano 99, Robert Lehrkind 101, Patrick O’Brien 102.

WOMEN’S REGULAR

Kelly Loeb 75, Terry Levis 76, Marla Parmele 77, Christina Herd 77, Aubrie Street 80, Trina Jones 80, Leslie Gainey 83, Tracie Armitage 84, Julia Tissen 85, Toni Watkins 86, Lindsey Crosier 87, Tonia Waldron 88, Genna Mettler 88, Michele Orrico 89, Toni Doolen 89, Laura Rommes 90, Kirsten Reed 90, Vicki Moffatt 92, Melinda Heiner 93, Susie Hammit 93, Laura Pinkham 94, Ashley Snowden 95, Mindy Cuttrell 98, Colleen Holbert 99, Francie Bostwick 101, Bridgitte Griffin-Azevedo 102, Barbara Stormo 102, Marnie Binney 103.

WOMEN’S SENIOR

Carolyn Turner 81, Alice Hunt 84, LaVone Kirkwood 84, Deb Stuart 86, Annette Vandaam 89, Michele Sandifur 89, Karen Fay 90, Sue Hunter 90, Bogey Loyd 90, Shelley Lehrkind 91, Tina Blum 92, Jan Hughes 92, Julie Schamanek 93, Sharon Swartsley 94, Marianne Metzger 94, Dana Carrigan 94, Tammie Allen 95, LeeAnn Loftin 95, Maureen McFaddin 95, Cathy Trower 97, Jane Wesley-Brooks 98, Nancy Cotton 98, Nancy Gish 99, Janet Stark 100, Susan Stringer 100, Judi Yazzi 102, Barb Reed 105, Dee St. Martin 103, Dana McIntosh 103, Becky Barry 109.

Reach reporter Mike Oxendine at 541-776-4499 or moxendine@mailtribune.com