Mission Viejo Championship: Pridmore Lights it Up

MISSION VIEJO, CALIF. (Sept 25, 2005) -- The first time we play a tournament golf course, the amateurgolf.com staff likes 'pick a number' for the winner. In most cases, we come eerily close. At the Inaugural Mission Viejo Championship played this weekend, however, we weren't even in the ballpark. amateurgolf.com Founder Pete Wlodkowski called the potential winning score at 141, and Tournament Director Art Law thought 142.

Jason Pridmore of Ventura had his own ideas.

Pridmore, 35, a professional motorcycle racer who rides for Michael Jordan Motorsports, opened on Saturday with a 68. Pridmore was paired with first round leader Daniel Wax, and got a chance to witness Wax's shot-making first hand including a birdie-birdie-birdie start and final tally of 5-under-par 67.

"He's got tons of talent," said Pridmore. "I was really impressed with his swing and the shots he pulls off time after time."

But there wasn't anything in Pridmore's Saturday conversation about who would come out on top - this is a guy who has all the shots and the strong mental game required to win.

Sunday's final pairing of Wax, Pridmore, Eugene Choi (who double-eagled the 18th hole on Saturday) and Justin Gray saw a battle develop between Pridmore on Wax, with Wax striking first with birdie at No. 1 to extend his overnight lead to 2. Pridmore answered that with a birdie on the tough par-4 2nd, and when Wax 3-putted they were all square. Pridmore birdied Nos. 3 and 5, and his lead was 2, then extended it to 3 when Wax bogeyed No. 6, the short par-4 that tempts you to hit driver, at 295 yards, but where environmental areas around the green cause most people to think better of it and lay up.

Wax gained a stroke back with a birdie at the ninth, but, as he prognosticated during the round, "This course really suits Jason's eye."

Champion Jason Pridmore (center) with runners-up Daniel Wax (left) and Justin Gray

Starting with No. 11, Pridmore must have really liked what he saw, because he made four straight birdies - and this run occurred on a stretch of holes that could just be Arroyo Trabuco's version of Amen Corner. The 11th is a 180 yard par-3, and the 12th is the longest par-4 on the course, at 495 yards. Granted, it's downhill, but a massive environmentally-sensitive area guards the right side of the hole from tee to green like the border patrol.

Standing on the water-guarded par-3 13th with a four shot lead in hand, Pridmore had the perfect chance to be defensive, if he was a defensive kind of guy.

He laced a 5-iron to six feet. Drained the left-to-righter for birdie. "This guy's lighting it up," whispered Wax as Pridmore was about to stroke the putt. (Wax would finish with a 74 for 141, tied with Justin Gray, who fired a solid 72 on Sunday after a 69 at Saturday)

Pridmore grabbed his fourth straight birdie at No. 14, then birdied No. 16 for good measure. This wasn't just a tournament victory like he got at The Camarillo City Championship last weekend in sudden-death. This was the round of a lifetime (Pridmore said it was his best tournament round ever) and certainly the best individual tournament round in the 5-year history of amateurgolf.com's Tournament Series.

The fact that he didn't equal the course-record of 64 didn't seem to bother him. The fact that he made a bogey did.

"It would have been great to play a round without a bogey, but I'm not complaining," he said.

"He's tough, mentally, no doubt about it," said close friend Lincoln James, who was by Pridmore's side after a ruptured spleen left him in critical condition at a race in Birmingham in April. Pridmore says that James may have saved his life by insisting that he be moved to the hospital after 45 minutes at the track. This doesn't stop the two pals from constantly giving each other a hard time.

"Of course, he had to go an bogey the 17th hole while I was watching him, and screw up tying the course record," joked James.

Senior Champ Peter Daley with runner-up Conrad Lawrence (left) and Eugene Medlock, who was 3rd

In the Senior Division, Peter Daley overcame an 8-stroke deficit to win the title by 2 over Conrad Lawrence, the first round leader who fired the wonderful 69 in round 1. Daley has some experience with winning tournaments - he won the competitive Club Championship at Mesa Verde CC 4 years in a row.

"And, might I add," said Daley proudly. "I'm 65."

Lawrence, who will soon try his luck on the Senior Tour, struggled to a 46 on the front nine on Sunday, but managed to retain his lead (and smile) through 12 holes as he birdied No. 11 and 16 to get to 2-under-par on the back nine. A double-triple finish on 17 and 18 dashed his hopes, as the steady Daley finished par-par to capture the title. We could all take a page from the playbook of the jovial final group who all seemed to realize that win or lose, it was just another great day of golf.

Net Champ Tom Jablonowski (c) with Craig Iverson (rt) and Robert Riley

Tom Jablonowski is now an amateurgolf.com 'veteran,' having played the Two Man Links Championship at Bandon Dunes in 2004 and now winning the Net Division of this event.

"I just played like I always, do, not too worried about the lead and trying to score the best I can on each hole," said Jablonowski, an accountant who resides not far from LAX.

"There was a worrisome moment on 18 when I hit it in the junk on the right," he added with a smile. "But I made a nice putt for par so that was nice."

* * * *

Final results from the amateurgolf.com Mission Viejo Championship, played at the 7011 yard, par-72 Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club:

First Last City St Rd1 Rd2 Tot
1st Jason Pridmore Ventura CA 68 65 133
T2 Daniel Wax Pacific Palisades CA 67 74 141
T2 Justin Gray Westminster CA 69 72 141
4th Micah Burke San Bernardino CA 72 71 143
T5 Jeffrey Chen walnut CA 74 73 147
T5 Frank Chiu Morongo Valley CA 72 75 147
T7 Joel Fieri San Diego CA 76 72 148
T7 David Hahn Henderson NV 77 71 148
T7 David Pichon Ventura CA 73 75 148
T7 Derek Zellmer Huntington Beach CA 71 77 148
T7 Chris Balster Milpitas CA 78 70 149
T12 Todd Palmaer Corona Del Mar CA 77 72 149
T12 Brian Kim Yorba Linda CA 76 73 149
T14 Eugene Choi Diamond Bar CA 69 81 150
T14 Joe Johnson Carlsbad CA 74 76 150
Johnny Ferreira San Diego CA 76 76 152
Yung Kim Wilmington CA 77 75 152
Kris Assawapimonporn Huntington Beach CA 79 74 153
Andy Chao San Diego CA 75 78 153
Bo DeHuff Coto De Caza CA 78 75 153
Joshua Walsh Milpitas CA 76 78 154
Rob Douglas Downey CA 80 75 155
Tyler Smith San Juan Capistrano CA 76 79 155
Brian Barre Garden Grove CA 73 83 156
Patrick MacMichael Santa Barbara CA 76 80 156
Alexander Resurreccion Long Beach CA 75 81 156
Issei Suenaga Rancho Santa Margarita CA 81 75 156
Nick Lindesay Newport Beach CA 80 77 157
Will Ritter Aliso Viejo CA 78 79 157
Matt Marshall Los Gatos CA 78 80 158
Adam Rodriguez Lake Forest CA 75 83 158
Dylan Pelletier-Ross Claremont CA 78 81 159
Josh Mecouch Portland OR 80 80 160
Carl Chang RSM CA 77 84 161
Eric Akeson Peoria IL 83 80 163
James Lynch Placentia CA 79 84 163
John Lavery Mission Viejo CA 78 86 164
Chris Moreno-Hunt Berkeley CA 77 87 164
Pete Wlodkowski Carlsbad CA 85 80 165
Jack Kim Los Angeles CA 83 83 166
Kevin McKelvie Aliso Viejo CA 85 81 166
Tyler Smith Irvine CA 88 79 167
John Fluman San Clemente CA 89 78 167
Kevin Hartsoch Playa del Rey CA 82 86 168
Rick Holguin Dove Canyon CA 83 87 170
Kevin Klatt San Diego CA 89 84 173
George Jackson Murrieta CA 88 90 178
William Ellis Hermosa Beach CA 85 97 182
Stephen Motte Perris CA 81 dns dns
Andrew Varela San Diego CA 82 dns dns
David Lebowitz Santa Monica CA 79 dns dns
Lincoln James Ventura CA 77 nc nc
Tyler Todhunter Mission Viejo CA 89 wd wd
Ryan Kahl Palmdale CA dns dns dns
Patrick Walker San CLemente CA dns dns dns
First Last City St Rd1 Rd2 Tot
1st Peter Daley Newport Beach CA 77 75 152
2nd Conrad Lawrence Marina Del Rey CA 69 85 154
3rd Eugene Medlock Westlake Village CA 76 79 155
Mike Marcus Dana Point CA 82 77 159
Patrick Reynolds Irvine CA 84 79 163
Gregory Waller Tustin CA 89 81 170
Steve Spiva Solana Beach CA 87 87 174
James Brickey Jr. Danville CA dns
First Last City St Rd1 Rd2 Tot
1st Tom Jablonowski Santa Monica CA 74 71 145
2nd Craig Iverson Arroyo Grande CA 72 75 147
3rd Robert Riley R.S.M CA 78 73 151
Thomas Marr Newport Beach CA 77 75 152
Robby Gau Coto de Caza CA 79 75 154
Barbara Thomas San Diego CA 80 75 155
Peter Hlavin Trabuco Canyon CA 79 81 160
Travis Corcoran Laguna Niguel CA 75 88 163
Michael Brown Aliso Viejo CA 87 76 163
Robert Eliseo Victorville CA 84 82 166
John Sawicki Corona del Mar CA 88 dns dns
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