36-hole leader Jeff New
CAREFREE, AZ (May 16, 2018) - Jeff New from Scottsdale carried some inside information into this week’s 2018 Trans-Miss Senior & Mid-Master Championship at Desert Forest Golf Club. That knowledge has propelled him into the lead of the Senior Division at even-par 144 through two rounds of play in the 54-hole event.
“I’ve had a strategy to play the course very conservatively,” said New, who made seven birdies Wednesday on his way to a 2-over 73. “I’m only hitting two or three drivers per round, trying to keep it in the fairway. I’ve got a good friend who is a member here for many years, and he advised me if you have to hit less club off the tee, do that even if you have a longer shot into the green.”
The conservative approach is working for New, who said he’s only launched one tee ball into the desert through 36 holes. Keeping the ball in play is one of the keys to success at Desert Forest, the 1962 Robert “Red” Lawrence design that lacks water hazards, fairway bunkers or out of bounds. What it does have, however, is penal desert landscape on both sides of every hole that can create feelings of anxiety on the tee boxes.
Winner of the 2015 Trans-Miss Senior Championship, New has handled Desert Forest’s unique defenses better than anyone in the 76-player Senior Division. He said his experience in his event also has provided an edge.
“You have to stay focused on the shot right in front of you,” New said. “Everybody is going to have some double bogeys, and you’re going to get into some really bad spots. So you just have to accept what happens and go on. Don’t let it get to you too much. You just have to assume everyone else is going to have problems, too. So just stay calm and keep focused on the next shot.”
New holds a one-shot lead over Mike McCoy from Norwalk, Iowa, and Bryan Norton from Mission Hills, Kan. McCoy turned in an even-par 72 in the second round that featured one bogey, two birdies and three-plus hours of steady, par-producing play. He sits at 1-over 145 overall.
“I putted a little better today, and I hit a lot of good iron shots,” said McCoy, a two-time Trans-Miss Championship winner (2000, ’08) and the 2012 Trans-Miss Four-Ball Champion with fellow Iowan Gene Elliott. “I only hit one wayward tee shot, and, boy, you pay a price if you hit one off-line out here.”
In addition to his Trans-Miss success, McCoy is a former USGA National Champion. He won the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur, and that experience should come in handy when he makes his run at the title in Thursday’s final round.
“It’s just preparation and going out there with a good attitude and try to make something happen,” McCoy said in response to what he’s learned over the years. “You want to get in the thick of it and give yourself a chance. As long as I can keep the ball in play, I’ll have plenty of birdie chances. I just need to hole a few.”
Norton finished T9 at last year’s championship and was the runner-up to New at the 2015 Trans-Miss Senior Championship. He shot 3-under on his final nine in the second round to record a sterling 2-under 70.
Brady Exber from Las Vegas is fourth in the Senior Division at 3-over 147. Joe Palmer from West Des Moines, Iowa, is fifth at 5-over 149.
Forty-eight players made the 36-hole cut in the Senior Division at 20-over 164.
In the newly created Mid-Master Division for amateurs ages 40 and older, Chris Kamin from Phoenix rolled in six birdies and posted a 2-under 70 in the second round. Combined with his 74 on Tuesday, Kamin sits at even-par 144 overall. He leads division by six shots over Robert Funk of Canyon Lake, Calif.
“I made some putts today,” said Kamin, who played collegiately at Bradley in the mid-1990s and has lived in Arizona for almost 22 years. “Most of my leaves were below the hole, not above it. I didn’t have too many side-hill putts, either. I guess I’m really comfortable with the green speeds, too. They’re not crazy fast, but they’re not slow.”
Kamin said he’s played Desert Forest about 15 times prior to this week’s event. It’s his favorite course to play in this part of the world, he said.
“The greens are just beautiful, and I’m always in a good mood to play here,” said Kamin, who is playing in his first Trans-Miss event. “I’ve played with good guys both days, and I’m really enjoying myself.”
Funk, the Low Amateur at the 2017 U.S. Senior Open, shot a second round 74 to bring his two-day total to 6-over 155. Desert Forest member Kevin Trent is in third place at 7-over 151 after recording a 2-over 74 in the second round.
Nine players played the 36-hole cut in the Mid-Master Division at 17-over 161.
In the Super Senior Division (65+), Jim Knoll from Sunnyvale, Calif., holds a six-shot lead over 2014 Trans-Miss Senior champion Jeff Burda from La Quinta, Calif., and Gary Hardin from Carlsbad, Calif.
After three bogeys in his first four holes, Knoll birdied the sixth and seventh holes. From there, he made 11 straight pars to get in with a 1-over 73. He’s currently at 3-over 147.
Following his first round 74, Burda fell back on Wednesday with a 7-over 79. Hardin, meanwhile, came in with a 5-over 77. They’re both 9-over for the championship at 153. Warren Cohen from Phoenix and 2013 Trans-Miss Senior champion Corky Nelson from Dallas share fourth place at 13-over 157.
Twelve players made the 36-hole cut in the Super Senior Division at 17-over 161.
In the Legends Division (70+), Dick Baker must feel right at home. The Desert Forest member shot a second straight 4-over 76 in the second round. His 8-over 152 total leads the division by five shots over David Rasley from Payson, Ariz.
After an 81 on Wednesday, Rasley sits at 13-over 157 overall. Third place belongs to Sam Boyd from Horseshoe Bay, Texas. His 36-hole total is 15-over 159. Another Desert Forest member, Philip Svanoe, is in fourth place in the Legends Division at 17-over 161.
A couple of veterans who know how to win this championship are tied for fifth place. Two-time defending Legends Division champion Jim Martin from Dallas and 2014 Legends Division winner Jerry Cundari trail Baker by 10 shots at 18-over 162.
Twelve players made the 36-hole cut in the Legends Division at 31-over 175.
The final round of the 2018 Trans-Miss Senior & Mid-Master Championship begins Thursday at 7:30 a.m.