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Oregon Mid-Am: Tennant/Nielsen Win Titles

MEDFORD, ORE. (July 13, 2008) -- Lara Tennant, 41, of Portland, Ore. earned her second Oregon Mid-Amateur title at Centennial Golf Club in Medford, Ore. shooting a consistent even par 71-73-144 to take the Women's Division award by 5-strokes over Trina Rasmussen, 43, of Medford, Ore. Defending Champion Loree McKay of Portland, Ore. also posted a second round 73 to move up the leaderboard and finish third. Rasmussen, who had a seventh place finish last year after posting two rounds in the 80s showed significant improvement in her game. "I'm really a rookie at this," said Rasmussen who has not played much competitive golf since taking up the game. "Now I feel I am just getting to a point where I can really compete against these girls." Tennant noted a bit of disappointment in a couple bogeys on the back nine, but said "I played real solid." She is the reigning Women's Stroke Play Champion and last won this event in 2003. She was also a semi-finalist at the Oregon Amateur last month. "It's always nice to win a tournament," she added.

While is playing more competitive golf this season, her first priority is still her family and five children. Although she is perennially one of the top female amateurs in the country, she has no plans to try to qualify for any of the national championships including the U.S. Women's Amateur that will be held next month at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. Just two years ago, at age 39, she was the oldest player to advance to match play when the U.S. Women's Amateur was held at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains, Ore. The next oldest competitor making match play was 26.

"I just don't have the time to properly prepare," said Tennant. As for trying to qualify for the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur she noted, "that conflicts with the first week of school."

The competition in the Men's Division came down to the last couple of holes as Todd Strible, 48, of Bend, Ore. posted a 5-under par 68 to put some pressure on first round leader Jeff Nielson, 42.

Just as Nielson predicted after his first round 67, "My number is out there. I'm just gonna continue to go from tee to green the best that I can, and make guys play hard to get me."

Nielson wasn't able to initially muster the same "magic" he found yesterday, and played to even par on his opening nine while Strible started his round with four birdies and one bogey and posted a 3-under par to move into the lead after 27 holes. Nielson birdied 10 and 11 to keep pace with Strible. Then he went up by one stroke after Strible bogeyed 14. "On 16 I knew I was one back," noted Strible who also added, "I don't normally pay attention to what other guys might be doing. Then I birdied the hole and learned that he [Nielson] bogeyed it so I had a one stroke lead with two holes left to play." "I've never been close to winning anything of this magnitude before," Strible added. He closed with another birdie to take 2-stroke lead into the clubhouse. "I came close before [in 2006] and lost in a playoff, leaving a sour taste," noted Nielson. "I played today with positive thoughts from my practice round and first round. When I came to the par-3 17th hole, it was setup just like the practice round, so that helped me visualize my shot." He stuck his shot to tap-in range for a birdie. "I knew someone could go low, and I thought I needed to at least make a par on 18," said Nielson. At the time he did not know that it would take a birdie to force another playoff. Brent Whittaker, Director of Tournament Operations had extended the finishing hole by 24 yards from the first round, changing it from a long and difficult 474-yard par-4 to a relatively short 496-yard par-5. Nielson hit a 3-wood off the tee, hit his 7-iron approach to 20-feet from the hole, then drained his putt for an eagle and the title. "This is really exciting," exclaimed Nielson. " It means a lot to me to earn my first Oregon title."

Established by the Oregon Golf Association in 1988, the Oregon Mid-Amateur Championship is a 36-hole stroke play event for competitors age 25 or older. The minimum qualification for entrants is a handicap index of 10.0 or less for men and 22.4 or less for women.

- story courtesy Oregon Golf Association

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