PORTLAND, ORE. (July 24, 2011) - The trek to the title of the 14th Oregon Public Links Championship took far different routes for two collegiate athletes as Gaston de la Torre of Brush Prairie, Wash. expanded his 2-stroke first round lead while Chelsey Lind of Bend, Ore. earned her title by way of a sudden death playoff at Broadmoor Golf Course in Portland, Ore.
De La Torre, a senior-to-be at New Mexico State, fired the opening salvo on the par-5 4th hole as the first to birdie in the final grouping to increase his lead. He continued to put pressure on his nearest fellow competitors with birdies on two of his next three holes. However, Conner Barr of Beaverton, Ore. and David Lydell of Aloha, Ore. matched him stroke for stroke. Closing out the opening nine with another birdie to go 4-under par for the day, made it appear the gap was too wide to close. It got a little narrower with bogeys on 10 and 12, and then an eagle by Barr on the par-5 14th hole put the two into a tie for first.
De La Torre regained his lead with a birdie on the 16th hole to put additional pressure on Barr to keep up. It wasn't until a double-bogey by Barr on the closing hole that would allow de la Torre to cruise to a 3-stroke victory.
In the Women's Division, Lind entered the final round with a narrow lead, and quickly gave it away with her second double bogey on the par-5 4th hole. However, it was not to her fellow Oregon State Beaver teammate, Seshia-Lei Telles of Tualatin, Ore., who started the day just 1-stroke back. Instead it was Sharon Shin of West Linn, Ore. who charged from 3-strokes back with three consecutive birdies starting the fireworks for the day.
Between the trio, each player had a brief appearance atop the leaderboard, but it was Lind who would have the final word when all scores were counted. Lind would bounce back with birdies on three out of her next six holes to recapture the lead, and birdies on the 16th and 17th holes seemingly shut the door on her fellow competitors. But a costly double-bogey on the final 18th hole left the door open for Telles who could snatch away the title by making a 15-foot birdie putt. Missing that putt, she had to settle for par to send the championship to a sudden death playoff.
With Lind losing all momentum after that disasterous final hole of regulation, and Telles feeling deflated from missing a perfect opportunity, both players proceeded to bogey the first playoff hole and take par on the second.
On the 435-yard par-5 third hole, Telles pushed her tee shot to the right, forcing her to punch out of the woods and greenside in three. Lind, regained her composure and Lind pounded her drive over 290 yards leaving an easy 140-yard short iron approach to the green. A two-putt birdie was all that it would take for her to earn the Public Links title.
The Public Links Championship, established in 1998, boasts an interesting tradition as numerous titleholders have either held or pursued professional golf careers. Among those with professional ties are Men's Champions, Adam Hagen ('03, '05, '07), Ian Hagen ('02), Ryan Fery ('04) and Mike Debruyn ('06), and; Women's Champions Karla Kalian ('98), Julie Wells ('01), Elizabeth Regan ('07), Rebecca Kim ('06) and Taya Battistella ('00).
The competition is a 36-hole gross and net stroke play contest open to both Men and Women amateur golfers with USGA Handicap Indexes of 36.4 or less (for Men) and 40.4 or less (for Women) issued by OGA Member Clubs. Eligibility also requires that golfers be bona fide public course players who have not held a membership at any course that does not extend playing privileges to the general public.
This year, the OGA established an Open Division for Men to encourage more players of varied skill levels to participate.
Comprised mostly of players with Handicap Indexes of 7.0 and above, the inaugural title was won by Mike Cavanaugh of Oregon City, Ore. who took a roller-coaster ride enroute to his second title of the season. The Oregon Net Champion co-medalist had an interesting round that featured three double-bogeys, three birdies, and one eagle, most occurring within a five hole stretch, creating the potential for the field to snatch away the lead.
The most pressure would come from Patrick Andrade of Bend, Ore. who started the day 5-strokes behind Cavanaugh, but bogeys on four of the last five holes made it impossible for Andrade to overtake him.
In the Net competition, the Championship Division title was shared by Lydell and Barr. Cavanaugh would have also captured the Net title for the Open Division, but was declared ineligible after capturing the Gross title, giving the top Net award to Arden Olsen of Gresham, Ore. MaryAnn Beutick of Portland, Ore. took the Women's Division Net title.
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