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SMGA; El Verano benefit tourney; junior golf camp; PGA thriller

By Richard Davison (Special to the Index-Tribune)

Light rain wasn’t enough to scare away the members of the Sonoma Men’s Golf Association as they traveled over the hill to Petaluma and the Rooster Run Golf Club last Sunday, with a new format used for the event, which saw players tee off from different tees on different holes.

Claiming first place with a combined score of 126 was the team of Jim Braun, Martin Bajuk, Jerry Borchelt and Pat Connolley; followed in second place by Mick Burrows, John Dennis, Tom Martin and Roger Rannikar’s 127; third-place’s Kay Groft Jr. Paul Groft, Kay Groft III and Bob Jennings’ score of 128; Steve MacCarthy, Greg Schult, Karl Mayer and Greg Tellis’ fourth with 120; and fifth-place Steve Lanning, Tony Enz, Al Rappoport and Ron Sharek’s 131.

Included in those teams scores were some impressive individual rounds, with Tellis and Rappoport firing 76 and 77, respectively.  In closest-to-the-pin action, Burrows found the sixth hole to be no problem, firing his shot to 4 feet, 8 inches, while Tellis mastered the always difficult No. 8 with a shot to 7-1.

The back-nine saw Woody Von Lackum join the winners with a shot to 14-3 on the 11th, while Schult avoided the water on the island green 15th and found his ball just 6-8 from the hole.

The SMGA returns to action on Sunday, March 16, at Silverado’s South Course in Napa.

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The 10th annual Golf Tournament benefitting El Verano Elementary School is scheduled for Monday, April 14, at the Sonoma Golf Club.

Once again the event is hosted by the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa and will see players tee off at noon. A gourmet dinner will follow at 6 p.m., along with a raffle and awards ceremony.

As in years past, this event kicks off the season of benefit tournaments and gives participants the chance to play the wonderful Sonoma Golf Club.

Cost for this year’s event is $195 and includes golf, lunch and dinner, while for those who don’t want to golf, but would like to attend the dinner, the cost is $65.

The raffle is not to be missed, with the grand prize being a trip for two to Maui that includes a five-night stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani, along with spa treatments, golf at the Wailea Golf Club and $500 voucher for Hawaiian Air. Tickets for the raffle are $50 or three for $100. To sign up or for more details, visit elveranoschool.org.

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Parents looking to get their children interested in golf can check out the Adobe Creek Junior Golf Camp in Petaluma. PGA Apprentice Neal Hellman will be hosting the camp starting in April.

There will be a beginning class/Level 1, which will include juniors between the ages of 5-to-13-years-old who have little or no golf experience and are ready to learn the basics of the game, from full swing to chipping and putting.

There will be two classes a week for three weeks, each class being one hour long. The camp takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the cost is $100 a student for the six classes. For more details, contact Hellman at 364-1523 or nealh@adobecreek.com.

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If the WGC Accenture Match Play event does move away from Dove Mountain, as rumors are indicating, the 2014 edition provided a great amount of drama to remember it by.

What started the week as an event that was lamenting the absence of Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson, ended with a worthy champion in Jason Day and a new hero to many in Victor Dubuisson.

Many of the stars of the game fell early, with a large number of top seeds going home after day one.

Rory McIlroy made it through his first match, but was sent packing after the second-round matches; Sergio Garcia headed up an all-star matchup against Rickie Fowler in the third round, only to go home when Fowler birdied the last to finish off a monumental comeback.

In the end however, it was Day, who lost in the semifinals last year, that matched up against the Frenchman Dubuisson, a self-described loner.

It looked like the match was all Day’s from the get-go; with Dubuisson starting off slow – but as the round continued, he gained a little momentum.

Still looking like it would be over by the 17th hole, when Dubuisson faced an 18-foot birdie putt to keep the match alive; after calmly rolling it in, he made a miraculous par-save on the 18th hole, while Day three-putted to send it to overtime.

What took place in the playoff is the stuff that legends are made of.  After both players found the fairway at the first hole, Dubuisson then airmailed his approach over the green into a “teddybear” cholla cactus. Day, playing overly safe, then missed his shot in the greenside bunker.

In the blink of an eye, Dubuisson, or “golden hands” as he’s known in France, took his wedge and somehow skipped his ball to within four feet of the hole. Day could do no better than 10 feet, but made the putt, and when Dubuisson followed him in, they headed to the next playoff hole.

This time Day found the green and Dubuisson tugged his 9-iron approach into the wild desert and another cactus.

With as much preparation as the first magical escape, Dubuisson once again showed a miracle touch, his ball stopping just six feet from the hole. Day’s reaction to that shot was of disbelief and he could do nothing but laugh and smile about it.

Both players made par and Day went on to get the deserved win on the fourth extra hole, but with the two shots from the desert, it might be Dubuisson that is remembered in years to come.