Oregon Senior Am: O’Donnell/Saenguraiporn take titles

MEDFORD, Ore. (Oct. 8, 2010) -- It was an unlikely battle in the Men's Championship Flight as Mike Klenz of Tualatin, Ore. advanced from the number 19 seed in the tournament all the way to the finals after to take on Pat O'Donnell of Happy Valley, Ore. at the Oregon Senior Amateur hosted this year by Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford, Ore.

Being atop the leaderboard with a chance for a title was familiar territory for O'Donnell, who in addition to being the medalist at this year's event, was also the reigning and 4-time Oregon Men's Stroke Play Champion, 2009 OGA Golfer of the Year and the 2008 Senior Amateur Champion. But for Klenz, who hasn't played in many state championships , it was in unfamiliar territory.

"I don't play a lot of tournament golf," said Klenz. "This is kind of a first for me." Klenz, however, has been a "giant killer" all week sending notable players such as Byron Patton of Tigard, Ore. and local favorite Kevin Klabunde home earlier than expected. "I just hope that O'Donnell doesn't have his A-game today," he added before today's match.

"It was a little different today than in my other matched," noted O'Donnell. "I made a couple putts off the start that got me going quickly again, but Mike played good." At the turn, the match was all-square, but O'Donnell regained the lead with a par on the 10th hole after Klenz's driver began to falter. On the 12th hole, Klenz his tee shot into the lateral hazard while O'Donnell drained a 20-foot uphill putt to go 2-up.

Klenz had an opportunity to capitalize on a wayward drive by O'Donnell on 13, but got a bad bounce on the uphill approach that sent his ball out-of-bounds. "I just got a little anxious and pulled it left," said Klenz. "I threw another one down and hit it to 6-feet without even thinking," he added. "I guess that's what you have to do -- not think so much."

"I never played with Mike. I didn't know what his game is like. He putts really well. He had a couple bad breaks coming around the back, and I took advantage of that I guess," he noted. O'Donnell added "You do things a little different in match play," added O'Donnell. "Once he's out you just play for bogey."

The match ended on 16 when O'Donnell hit his approach on the green below the hole, while Klenz hit his approach left leaving a dangerous downhill chip that had a greater chance of sailing off the green than going in. Klenz conceded the match 4 & 2.

"It was exciting to just make it to the finals," said Klenz. "I didn't play as well as I had the past 4 days. If I had it would have been a better match since he didn't have his A+ game."

In the Women's finals, Penny Saenguraiporn of Lake Oswego, Ore. won her match over medalist Debbie Friede of Washougal, Wash. Saenguraiporn was the runner-up in last year's championship to Pacific Northwest Hall-of-Famer Joan Edwards-Powell. This year she'd be taking on a former LPGA Touring professional who had a significant advantage off the tee, outdriving her 40-50 yards on every hole.

"I just couldn't putt," noted Friede who recently switched back from a belly putter to the short stick. "For a while I couldn't sink a putt inside 5-feet."

Despite the disadvantage of being a short-hitter, Saenguraiporn's strength was in her short game. "I swear she chipped in every day this week," added Friede.

It was no different today when on the 14th hole, Saenguraiporn chipped in with a lob shot over a greenside bunker to a short-sided hole to make birdie and go dorme four in the match. Friede battled back to extend the match two more holes before succumbing 2 & 1 to Saenguraiporn.

"I practice a lot on my short game without my short game my play is not very strong," noted Saenguraiporn.

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