(Photo courtesy of NCGA)
CARMEL, Calif. — The sun came out at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course, as champions were crowned Saturday at the annual NCGA Mixed Team Spring Championship.
In the Chardonnay Flight (9 handicap index-below), first round co-leaders Dorothy and Steve Donnelly posted their second straight 1-under 70, giving them a two-day total of 140 and a tight one-stroke win over the co-runner-up teams of Angie and John Friedrich and Merry and Bill Ayres.
The Donnelys, who won the Chardonnay Flight at the NCGA Mixed Team Fall Championship, didn’t get off to a roaring start, posting a front-nine 38 with two double-bogeys and two birdies.
On the back-nine, however, the two got going. Despite a pair of bogeys, the Salinas residents ran off four birdies in a row from holes No. 11 through No.14. Another birdie on the par-4 16th and closing pars at the 17th and 18th would prove to be the difference.
“I got it close and Dorothy made some clutch putts,” Steve Donnelly said. “Dorothy was a calming influence, and she’s just a great putter.”
The Ayres, who came into the final round just a stroke off the lead, also shot 70 after penciling in four birdies to go with three bogeys.
Team Friedrich, who’d also entered the day a stroke back, also shot a final round 70. Winners of the title last year at Carmel Valley Ranch, the Friedrichs posted three birdies and two bogeys on their front-nine. After the making the turn, they’d neither lose nor make up ground, carding nine straight pars to also finish at 141.
In a card-off, the Ayres team was awarded second place due to having a lower lower back-nine score.
Fourth place in the Chardonnay Flight went to Ken and Jennie Noonan, who finished at 142 after posting a day-low 5-under 66.
In the Merlot Flight (10 handicap index-16), the team of Mary Ann and Scott Taylor shot 67 to come back from three behind a win the title. The Taylors, who won the Zinfandel Flight at the NCGA Scramble in December, posted two eagles (holes No.5 and No.18) and four birdies to go with four bogeys. They’d finish with a two-day total of 135, slipping by the runner-up tandem of Carlos and Sandra Munio by a stroke.
The Mixed Team Spring was the second time the Taylors have played together in an NCGA tournament. They’re now 2-0.
“It’s more fun playing with your wife,” Scott Taylor said. “We both really enjoy the course after the re-model.”
The Munios, who had entered the final round in the lead after opening with a 65, fell back to second after posting a 71. One of the big differences was a crucial double-bogey the two suffered on the par-4 8th.
Third place in the Merlot Flight went to the tandem of Denise Kam and Carl Umpleby, who finished at 139 after a second round 69. Fourth place was claimed by Bonnie and Thomas Shewchuk at 143.
In the Zinfandel Flight (17 handicap index-above), Sasa and JimPuchbauer got their turn at the top.
A year after finishing in second place, the Puchbauers posted a final round 64 to finish with a two-day total of 131, good enough to hold off runner-ups Susan Schutz and Mark Hawley by a stroke.
A day after shooting 67, the Puchbauers posted an eagle (No. 15) to go with eight birdies and just three bogeys.“Sasa putts well and I drove the ball well today,” Jim Puchbauer said.
“In this format, you don’t have to have a perfect game,” Sasa Puchbauer added. “We really enjoy this format.”
Hawley and Schutz also played well, carding two eagles and seven birdies. They’d be snakebit by a triple-bogey on the par-5 9th.
Making a push into third place was the tandem of Kimlien Tran and John Lee. Tran and Lee, who won the title last year, carded a final round 63 that included two eagles and six birdies to finish at 133.
While they didn’t defend their title, the third place finish gave Tran and Lee a “medal sweep.” They now own the gold winner’s, silver runner-up and third place bronze medals.
“That’s really what we were shooting for today,” said Lee, who along with Tran came in seven shots off the lead. “Now we’ve got all the medals.”
First round leaders Carl Thoreson and Jeanne Benedetti, who’d opened with a 63, fell back to a tie for fourth after carding a 72. Also finishing T-4 at 135 were the tandems of Nansea Russ and Pat Goodman and Cindie Young and Mike Winkenbach.
The shot of the day went to the team of Andrea Brenholz and Glen Esquivel in the Zinfandel Flight when Brenholz carded an ace on the 17th using a 9-iron from 120 yards out. It was Brenholz’ first hole in one and came in competition. The Poppy Hills staff presented her with a commemorative flag as per course custom.
The championship is conducted under Mixed Chapman Stroke Play. In this format, two competitors play as partners as one side. Both players on a side tee off from their respective tees. Then Player A plays Player B’s drive, and vice-versa. Players then select the better of the second shots, and from that point play alternate shot until the ball is holed.
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