Monday, March 26, 2012

Tour Players Brave Elements at SoCal Open

Temecula, CA—The Golf Channel Amateur Tour held the Southern California Open over the weekend at the phenomenal “Journey at Pechanga” Golf Club.  A strong winter storm dominated the weekend, with the event lucky to complete the event in an inclement-weather shortened 18 holes.  In all approximately 150 Tour Players braved the strong wind, rain, cold, and hail to complete the event.   The top three finishers (including ties), per flight, qualified for the 2012 National Championship at TPC Sawgrass this September. 

Brian Beach of Missoula, MT and Gary Robinson of San Diego, CA both birdied the par-five 9th hole, their last of the event, to get into a playoff at 4-over par 76 in brutal conditions.   The playoff started and ended on the par-four 10th hole.  Beach and Robinson, both looking for their first Major Championship title on Tour, hit their approaches close.  Beach’s 5-footer just missed on the low-side, while Robinson nailed his three-footer for the title of Southern California Open Champion.   Mark Mulder of Scottsdale was the only other player in the event to break into the 80’s, his 78 good for a 3rd place finish. 

The Palmer Flight saw some very tight scoring, with four players tied atop the leaderboard after 18-holes of play on Sunday.  A California foursome all shot 84 including Kristin Wilmes of Carlsbad, Greg Austin of San Marcos, Dale Sandoval of Beaumont, and Kevin Stutts of San Diego.  With Sandoval departing from the golf course, three of the four players headed back out to the course for the playoff.   Like the playoff above, Wilmes was able to take home the title on Sunday, his 1st Major Championship victory on Tour!  All four players successfully qualified for the National Championships at TPC Sawgrass this September. 

The Senior Palmer Flight also saw some low scoring, with a player from the mid-west taking the title.  Dan Steinman of Chicago, IL must have been used to the rainy and blustery conditions, as he fired a nice 9-over par 81 to win the title in the Senior Palmer Flight.  Paul Jansak of Mammoth Lakes was just a stroke back at 10-over par 82.  Rounding out the top three was Bill Gregg of Irvine, CA. 

In the Hogan Flight Chris Pope of San Bernardino, CA was able to take home top honors after a round of 86 that took two full days to complete.  Pope, as did the rest of the Hogan Flight, had to come back to the course on Saturday morning and was able to hang on to his 1st Major Championship victory after his 14-over par 86 held up by a narrow stroke.  Tony Anderson of Marina Del Ray, CA and Tommy Stokes of Riverside, CA each tied or 2nd just a single stroke behind at 87. 

The Senior Hogan Flight also had to play 18-holes covering two days because of the inclement weather.  A self-described “mudder” was the only player in the flight to break into the 80’s and now call himself the Senior Hogan Flight Major Champion.  Ted Collins fired an 88 to take home the title, and admitted that he did not mind the conditions as he considered himself someone who knows how to effectively brave the elements!  Derry Hood of Rancho Dominguez, CA and Dave Gould of Escondido, CA both tied for 2nd place at 91. 

The Sarazen Flight struggled with the conditions, with Joe Basanda of Mission Viejo, CA taking home top honors in the flight thanks to his 97.  Andre Fitzpatrick of San Diego, CA snatched up 2nd place with a 102, while Sri Mummaneni of Los Angeles, CA was in third place after a 104. 

In the Senior Sarazen Flight Michael Labrum of St George, UT was able to brave the conditions which he might be used to given his hometown.  Labrum held on to win by a shot, claiming the title at 18-over par 90.  Mark Dieck of Long Beach, CA was the clubhouse leader for awhile, and settled for a 2nd place finish at 91.  Dr Mark Wiener of Carol Stream, IL and Honorable Ira Bank of Studio City, CA tie for 3rd place and qualified for the National Championships at 93. 

In the Jones Flight Brett O’Donovan of San Diego, CA fired his best round on Tour to date in 7 attempts, with his 90 being a great score notwithstanding the inclement weather conditions.  O’Donovan is now a Major Champion, winning his flight by a full 5 strokes.  Bob Parent from nearby Murrieta, CA was able to shoot a 95 to finish in 2nd place.  Stan Kim of Toluca Lake finished in 3rd place at 97. 

The Snead Flight saw one person shoot in the double digits, and that person was Don Risner of Bakersfield, CA.  Risner won the flight with a 27-over par 99.  Steve Turner of San Bernardino, CA carded a birdie on the par-three 15th hole en-route to a 2nd place finish.  Alan Wettig of San Diego rounded out the top three finishers. 
The Senior Snead Flight must have been excited to get home, as the winner of the flight was not around to receive his trophy!   In a battle of attrition, Mike Pavlik of Desert Ridge, AZ came out on top by a full six strokes at 109.  Marcia Moore of Lomita, CA and James Collins of Las Cruces, NM both tied for 2nd place. 

Thank you to the players again for braving some very difficult weather conditions and to the staff at Journey at Pechanga.  The course held up in spite of the over two inches of rain that fell over the weekend.

A special Thank you goes out to all the players of the SoCal Open as they raised $1,080 for the Troops First Foundation.

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