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SMGA, SVGC; top collegians at SGC; PGA; Pres Cup; tourneys

By By Richard Davison (Special to the Index-Tribune)

The Sonoma Men’s Golf Association was lucky enough to have the chance to play the Contra Costa Country Club last month, a private course that was kind enough to open its doors to the group. Several members made the trip to Concord and got to enjoy a day on the well-manicured course.

Leading the way was Steve Lanning and Nick Blonder, who both carded net round of 71, before Lanning was awarded first place in a score-card playoff, with Karl Mayer grabbing third with a 74, while Pat Armitage’s 75 was good enough for fourth, and Ted Carrillo walked away with fifth at 77.

The SMGA holds its annual club championship tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, Sept. 7 and 8, at the Windsor Golf Club.

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The Sonoma Valley Golf Club has also been in action, recently, with play taking place at Eagle Vines Golf Club in Napa.

In the first flight, Magnus Carlsson walked away with the first-place prize following his round of 67; while second and third place went to Jack Powers and Jerry VanWallinga, respectively, after both carded rounds of 71.

The second flight saw Russ Hurley’s 66 narrowly edge out Jack Doss’ 67, while Thom Culligan took home third at 68.

John Murphy cruised to a three-shot win in the third flight with his round of 68, while Ron Macaluso settled for second at 71, and Eloi Delagnes’ 72 was good enough for the third-place spot on the podium.

In the closest-to-the-pin competitions, playing from the white tees, Mac Bautista’s shot on the downhill sixth saw the ball finish 7 feet, 7 inches from the hole.

VanWallinga showed why he had one of the lower scores of the day with his shot to 35-5 on the eighth, while Jim Schnabel joined the party on the 12th, carving a shot to 9-3, and Leon Valle got the better of the 15th hole with a shot to 8 feet.

From the gold tees, Dave Voepel’s shot to 15-6 on the sixth sealed first place, while Ed Cebula avoided the water guarding the eighth and had his ball stop 25-8 from the hole.

When Dan Stites hit his ball to 50-2 on the 12th, he probably didn’t think it would hold up, but it did, while Doss claimed the 15th with a shot to 16-10.

The red tees saw Kit Wood knock it to 13-3 on the sixth, while Mel McPherson did a little better than that on the 8th, his ball coming to rest 13 feet from the hole.

John Fanucchi grabbed a hold of the 12th with a shot to 31-6, while Jerry Marino got bragging rights on the 15th with a shot to 30-6.

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From 2003 to 2009, the best players on the Champions Tour finished their year at the Sonoma Golf Club and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

In 2013, some potential future stars of the game will start their season at the famed layout.

The 2013 Alister MacKenzie Invitational will be played Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 14 and 15, at the Sonoma Golf Club, with some of the top teams in college golf participating.

Last year’s most dominant team in college golf, the Cal Bears, will headline the field that also includes USF, UC Davis, University of Hawaii, Oregon State University, Colorado State University and the University of Minnesota, among others.

Spectators will be welcome at the event which is sure to showcase some fantastic golf.

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The PGA Tour is in the middle of its playoffs for the FedEx Cup with Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson taking the first two events in New York and Boston, respectively.

With his impressive play over the summer, Stenson has taken the lead in the annual point race that awards $10 million for first place.

Tiger Woods has held the top spot, on the heels of his five wins, for the majority of the year, but struggled at the TPC of Boston during the Deutsche Bank Championship last week and finished toward the back of the pack, giving Stenson, who looked very strong posting a 21-under-par winning total.

With a week off, players have the chance to recharge before heading to Conway Farms outside Chicago and then finally to the Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks.

Players will be jockeying to stay in the top five on the points list, in doing so, a win at the Tour Championship will guarantee them the FedEx Cup, although multiple scenarios mean everyone in the 30-player field has a mathematical chance to win.

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One week after the Tour Championship, the President’s Cup will take place, this time at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament.

Captain Fred Couples, back for a third time, and Nick Price, making his debut, captain the United States and International sides, respectively and made their captain’s choices earlier this week, rounding out the 12-person squads.

Couples went with 2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson, who was narrowly bumped from an automatic selection spot at the last qualifying tournament last week; and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who bolstered his chances with a final round 62 on Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

It didn’t hurt that Spieth fired that impressive round in the company of Phil Mickelson, who apparently called Couples that night and told him, “You need to have this kid on the team.”

Price, meanwhile, didn’t have as large a pool of players to choose from this time around, as many of the international players with marquee names are battling injury or sagging games. His two picks went to Australian Marc Leishman and South Africa’s Brendan de Jonge.

Leishman, who won at the Travelers Championship in 2012, has been a consistent player throughout 2013, including an impressive run at Augusta National during The Masters. Though he has not won on the PGA Tour, de Jonge has six rounds in the 60s during the FedEx Cup playoffs and could be a dark horse and inspirational addition to the squad.

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This Wednesday,  Sept. 11, the 21st annual St. Leo’s Men’s Club Tournament will take place at Oakmont’s West Course in Santa Rosa, with check-in starting at noon and the tourney getting underway at 1 p.m. Anyone interested in playing, or for more details, contact Steve Rogers at 771-9290.

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Hanna Boys Center’s 21st annual golf classic will be held Monday, Sept. 16, at the Sonoma Golf Club, with a 9:30 a.m. registration, an 11:30 tee-off using the scramble format, and a cocktail hour and dinner following at 5 p.m. For more details, or to sign up, go to hannacenter.org or contact Tamara Stanley at 933-2504.

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The Sonoma Golf Club will host the 27th annual BR Cohn Celebrity Golf Classic taking place on Monday, Sept. 23, with the scramble format event starting with an 8 a.m. registration, followed by a 10 a.m. tee-off. For more details or to sign up, go to brcohn.com.