Steady as she goes
Youthful exuberance and the conscience of a cat burglar can get you far, but there’s really nothing like having a little experience under your belt when it comes to match play golf.
Reena White and Trina Jones showed just exactly why each is a past champion at the Southern Oregon Golf Championships on Sunday and, in doing so, earned themselves a shot at yet another crown entering today’s final round at Rogue Valley Country Club.
The women’s championship 36-hole final begins at 9:10 a.m. and picks up for the final 18 holes at 2:50 p.m.
White was strong and steady from the opening hole to secure a 3-and-2 victory over her younger peer Aubrie Street, while Jones matched shots in a similar setting against Christina Phelps before ultimately prevailing on the 19th hole during semifinal action at the 86th annual SOGC.
“In match play, you just have to stay patient,” said a tired but pleased Jones following her extra-hole victory. “I was fortunate to get out of it with a win. It was give and take all day, she played really well.”
Phelps was coming off her second Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships title in three years and was champion in the SOGC women’s first flight one year ago. She graduated from South Medford High in 2012 and also excelled at the prep level at Cascade Christian.
Phelps was 1 up heading to the 18th and final hole and stood across the fairway from Jones with similar approach shots. The younger Phelps, however, saw her short iron carry to the back of the green some 45 feet from the hole, while Jones nestled her approach to align perfectly with the pin.
Two putts later, Jones had extended their match and was feeling as comfortable as ever in the early dusk hours standing again on the No. 1 tee box.
On the 19th hole, Jones again put herself in prime position below the hole while Phelps approach carried deep to the top of the green and left her another testy long putt. An aggressive effort on the downhill putt left Phelps on the bottom of the green with another 15 feet back to her target, while Jones merely chipped up to within 1½ feet of the cup and later tapped in for the deciding effort.
At no point in their semifinal was Jones or Phelps up by more than one hole.
“She played great all day, though, she really did,” Jones, the 2008 SOGC women’s champion, said of the younger Phelps. “Literally it was a roller-coaster today. I was ahead, she was ahead, we were even. I’m actually surprised to come out of it, but it was a fun day.”
In other nail-biting action, Ryan Schaefer earned his spot in today’s men’s championship final with a birdie on the 22nd hole to deny David Murphy. Schaefer will square off against Chris Polski in the 36-hole final at 9:20 a.m. and 3 p.m. today after Polski edged Murphy’s Oregon Tech teammate Tyler Swinton, 1 up.
The only player vying for a repeat championship today will be LaVone Kirkwood in women’s senior play as Sunday wasn’t a good day for defending champions. Kirkwood, who won 3 and 2 over Sheri Driskill, will face stiff competition in Linda Johnson, who won 4 and 3 over Linda Tungsvik.
In other championship flight matchups, Bret Breeze and Marty Morlan will face off at 9 a.m. and 2:40 in their 36-hole junior-senior final after Breeze topped defending champion Steve Taormino (4 and 3) and Morlan beat Brook Gard (4 and 2); and Kevin Klabunde will face Mark Wilson at 2:20 for the men’s senior title after Klabunde edged defending champion Glen Clark (1 up) and Wilson topped Steve Wood (1 up).
Today’s men’s super senior final will pit George Mack against Herman Holm at 2:10 p.m.
For White, the ride to another potential championship has been a surreal one. She won the 1999 women’s championship and hadn’t really played much golf since then until returning to the SOGC field last summer and being eliminated by eventual champion Rosie Cook in the quarterfinals.
“When I teed off on Wednesday, I always want to win, but my gosh my expectations weren’t like this,” said White, who was a young phenom out of the Eklund family when she emerged victorious in 1999. “I was building Lego golf carts the other morning before I teed off. That’s my life now, which maybe makes you a better player ... I don’t know. It’s a balance I guess.”
With her father Jerry Eklund on the bag and young sons and new husband Jimmy nearby, White was in perfect balance as she played the course and not her opponent on Sunday. That proved helpful because Street routinely had about 30 yards in distance over the rest of the group in the women’s foursome.
“I wasn’t going to try to make any crazy shots,” White said of her game plan. “I was just going to play consistent and let her kind of gauge where her shots were off of mine.”
That consistent approach and ability to hit greens in regulation allowed White to take a 2-up advantage through five holes and never trail from that moment on. She was 3 up through 12, lost a hole on No. 13 thanks to a clutch putt by Street, but regained that hole on No. 14 when Street crushed her drive but was short of the green on two wedge shots inside the final 100 yards.
“I just didn’t really capitalize on my good shots and made too many mistakes out there,” said Street, 22, who currently resides in Greenville, S.C. “Reena played great, really solid with lots of good shots so it was a good match.”
It was only the second time competing in the SOGC for Street, who lost on the same 16th hole in the 2009 semifinals that led into her senior year at St. Mary’s High.
“I love watching the young girls (like Street and Phelps) because I was that girl,” said White. “It’s really fun to see them come up. I told Aubrie I’d see her next year again for sure, she played great.”
As for her own spot in today’s final, White said she’s just excited to have the opportunity and looks forward to a fun day with Jones. She was 1-over-par on her round through 16 on Sunday and finished 2 over through 18 on Saturday.
“I’ve been here before so my expectations are not skyrocketing,” she said. “I’m just going to go out and play shot for shot and go play golf like I’m playing golf on Sunday with the kids.”
“It is exciting though,” added White. “Where I was in ‘99 compared to my life now and everything I’ve gone through, this is like icing for me. It’s fun. I’ll play tomorrow and then I’ll be up taking them to their first day of school on Tuesday and back into mommahood.”
Chris Polski def. Tyler Swinton 1up, Ryan Schaefer def. David Murphy 22nd
Ted Stark def. Trevor Telford 1up, Taylor Klemp def. Justin Azevedo 1up
Joey Walker def. Tyler Duntsch 3&2, Alex Brown def. Blake Bartlett 2&1
Alfonso Powers def. Jon Portz 3&2, Jeffery Barry def. Taylor Webb 1up
Sonny O’Grady def. Matt Stringer 1up, Erik Pederson def. Cody Stover 2&1
Scott Weiland def. Eric Linerud 1up, Sam Garner def. Jordan Anderson 6&4
Michael Barbieri def. Rick Buchler 19th, Curtis Wagoner def. Matt Johnson 6&4
Scott Reed def. Bret Cromwell 1up, Brandt Cullen def. Andy Viets 1up
Darren Bruhns def. Dave Mettler 1up, Chris Intlekofer def. Dylan Schwarm 19th
Jeremy Ross def. Scott Sterton 1up, Tanner lawton def. Shawn Shumate 2up
Bret Breeze def. Steve Taormino 4&3, Marty Morlan def. Brooks Gard 4&2
Rob Neff def. Rick Jackson 3&1, Todd Dixon def. Joel Jessel 1up
Todd Ostenson def. Richard Warner 1up, Jake Rockwell def. Derron Moreland 1up
Keith Lallo def. Eric Hansen 6&5, Ron Harvey def. Steve Connell 1up
Joe Bowles def. John Hall 19th, Rick Hutchins def. Joe Davis 19th
Scott Entinger def. Greg Jacobs 1up, Tony Nieto def. Tim Hornecker 1up
Jim Retzlaff def. Tom Mayer 5&4, Michael Webb def. Scott VanWay 19th
Brian Sherrill def. Ed Lindbloom 19th, Kevin Primerano def. Erling Brekke 1up
MEN’S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Kevin Klabunde def. Glen Clark 1up, Mark Wilson def. Steve Wood 1up
MEN’S SENIOR FIRST
Terry Faulkner def. David Street 1up, Billy Crenshaw def. Steve Boldish 1up
MEN’S SENIOR SECOND
Doug Engle def. Don Mitchell 1up, Scott Tuttle def. Ken Van Daam 1up
MEN’S SENIOR THIRD
John Buda def. James Hulhall 1up, Patrick Daggitt def. Paul Reynolds 2&1
MEN’S SENIOR FOURTH
Tim Trower def. Michael Goldman 5&4, Evan McArthur def. Mark Weiss 2up
MEN’S SENIOR FIFTH
Scott Mayfield def. Wayne Stone up, Jerry Johnson def. Jeffery Blum 1up
MEN’S SENIOR SIXTH
John Lawton def. Jim Morris 2up, Terry Buntin def. Mark Pagan 4&3
MEN’S SENIOR SEVENTH
Bill Allen def. Les Cracraft 1up, [anceHunter def. Darrell Hunt 6&5
MEN’S SENIOR EIGHTH
Brian Schmitz def. Kevin Aguirre 1up, Cliff Barnett def. Walt Packard 1up
MEN’S SENIOR NINTH
Raymond Smith def. Lee Fortier 2&1, John George def. Dan Kosmatka 2&1
SUPER SENIOR SECOND
Al Raduski def. Tom Tarlow 4&2, Ron Howard def. Robert Galusha 7&6
SUPER SENIOR THIRD
Michael Miller def. Terry Anderson 2&1, Gordon Bostwick def. Tim Wray 2&1
SUPER SENIOR EIGHTH
Bob Doolen def. Dwight Samuel 2&1, Tom Michaels def. Stephen Warrington 2&1
SUPER SENIOR NINTH
Wendell Towe def. Peter Puljan 1up, Donald Young def. Ronald Van Vleet 1up
Trina Jones def. Christina Phelps 19th, Reena White def. Aubrie Street 3&2
Ashdown-Hammitt def. Laura Rommes 6&4, Lindsey Crosier def. Toni Doolen 1up
Vicki Watson def. Genna Mettler 4&3, Julia Tissen def. Laura Pinkham 1up
LeeAnn Loftin def. Dana Carrigan 4&2, Lori Humphery def. Francie Bostwick 1up
WOMEN'S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
LaVone Kirkwood def. Sheri Driskill 3&2, Linda Johnson def. Linda Tungsvik 4&3
WOMEN'S SENIOR FIRST
Barb Pinkham def. Chrissy Bayless 1up, Nancy Moore def. Selby-Hughes 3&2
WOMEN'S SENIOR SECOND
Rosemary Harrington def. Susan Stringer 2&1, Donna Woodson def. Shelley Fisher 1up
WOMEN'S SENIOR THIRD
Julie Schumanek def. Sonja Nisson 1up, Darla Allen def. Deanna St. Martin 7&6
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