Southern Cal Four-Ball: Marsh, Downing prevail

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (Nov. 11, 2008) -- For George Downing, it was a long time coming. For Kevin Marsh, it was more of the same.

Downing, a Santa Barbara resident who had never won a non-club tournament, and Marsh, who grew up in that seaside community and won this year’s SCGA Amateur Championship, caught fire on the back nine and went on to post their second consecutive 7-under-par 65 to win the 18th Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) Four-Ball Championship today by three shots at Red Hill Country Club.

The 28-year-old Downing and the 35-year-old Marsh finished with rounds of 65-65 -- 130, 14-under-par in the better ball of partners format. They were three shots in front of 2006 champions David Bartman of Los Angeles and Robert Funk of Canyon Lake, who shot 67-66 –133, 11 under par, over the 6,545-yard, par-72 course originally designed in the 1920s by legendary golf course architect George C. Thomas, Jr.

Jason Bittick of Coto de Caza and John Adams of San Clemente, the 2008 SCGA Foursomes champions, shot their second consecutive 67 today and finished at 134, 10 under par, and tied for third with Rich Simonin and Johnny Holmes of Riverside, who backed up their opening-round 66 with a 68 today. Four groups tied for fifth at 135, 9 under par.

With low scores prevailing today on a balmy day with almost no breeze, Downing and Marsh were one shot in front after nine holes and each par 3 on the 141-yard, sharply downhill 10th hole. They each scrambled on the 366-yard 11th hole and Marsh kept their advantage by rolling in a 15-foot par putt.

“We were hanging in there,” said Marsh, the 2008 SCGA Amateur champion. "And that par putt on 11 was a turning point. It was like making a birdie.”

Downing echoed his partner.

“I can’t even describe how huge that putt was,” he said. “It swung the momentum back to us and we left the green with a bounce in our step.”

It also proved to be an omen, as Downing and Marsh combined to birdie the next four consecutive holes (each player making two birdies to win holes) and suddenly a tight race was a runaway. They parred the last three holes to claim the winners’ plates.

Downing and Marsh have known each other for years; Downing was a precocious youngster when Marsh was winning his first SCGA Amateur Championship in 1996. Today, both are developers, Marsh in commercial real estate and Downing in residential real estate.

“This is a good time for a developer to be playing golf,” said Downing ruefully, surveying the wreckage of the economic downturn.

For Downing, the return to the victory was a long-time in the making. He was a member of the 1999 San Marcos High School team that won the CIF-SCGA High School Team title but hasn’t won anything outside of his club since.

“I guess I’m a team guy,” he said today with a smile.

Marsh continues his hot streak since returning to the amateur ranks several years ago. He won the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur and played in the Masters the following spring. Last July, he captured the SCGA Amateur at Saticoy CC, was runner-up in the 2008 SCGA Mid-Amateur and went on to win SCGA Player of the Year honors. With his win, he’s a leg up over everyone except Downing in the 2009 POY race (which began with this tournament and continues through next October).

--Courtesy SCGA

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