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SVGC; ace for SGC’s Johnson; LPGA returns

By Richard Davison (Special to the Index-Tribune)

The Sonoma Valley Golf Club continues to be highly active as it nears the end of its 2013 season, wrapping up a busy October at the Eagle Vines Golf Club in Napa on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Coming out on top in the first flight was Ron Sharek with a fine round of 65, followed two shots back by Jim Schnabel, while Bill Seim rounded out the top three with his 68.

In the second flight, Ned Druehl carded a 70 for a one-shot victory over both Russ Hurley and Lou Pignati and their rounds of 71 each.

The third flight saw John Fanucchi scorch the course with a round of 63, easily the best of the day, as Steve Martin took home second place with a 66, while Jack Doss’ 69 was good enough for third.

In closest-to-the-pin, playing from the white tees, Seim’s shot to 7 feet, 8 inches on the sixth hole was the best of the day, while Jerry VanWallinga claimed the eighth with a shot to 22-5.

Sharek claimed the 12th with a shot to 24-6, while Dale Charles took home the 15th hole with a shot to 20-2.

The gold tees saw Pignati hit his shot to 10-5 on the sixth, the best of the day, and Greg Warren joined the party by avoiding the water on the eighth to finish 31-8 from the flag.

Ned Druehl liked the 12th, firing his shot to 8-8, while Hurley claimed the 15th with a shot to 7-9.

Ralph Giancaspro played the red tees and hit a shot to 19 feet on the 6th and Jack Kearney backed that up on the eighth with a shot to 36-6.

Jim Olson also walked away from the 12th a happy man, as his ball stopped 19 feet away and Martin’s shot to 21-9 rounded out things at the 15th.

Fast greens were the talk of the day as the SVGC visited the Santa Rosa Country Club on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and the team of Bud Schuerman, Ron Sharek, Hugh McNeilly and Gregg Warren were crowned champions with a 183 total.

Ed Cebula, Jack Doss, Dan Weber and Joe Valls combined to shoot a 186 total for second place; and third place went to Joe Runnion, Jim Reece, Gerry Orme and Bob Clair with their 189 total; while Al Marty, El Delagnes, Dick Moore and Bob Leal had a 190 for fourth, and Deby, Tom and Ernie Braun, along with Russ Hurley, had a 191 fifth-place total.

Closest-to-the-pin winners included Tom Braun on the fourth hole with a shot to 15-9 from the silver tees, and Ned Druehl hitting a shot to 4-1 from the white tees.

Cesar Veluz (s) had no issues with the tricky sixth, his ball stopping just 4-4 from the hole, while Carrie Luddy (w) also walked away a winner with a shot to 9-9.

Bob Park (s) negotiated the difficult 15th with a shot to 36-8, as did Luddy (w), who picked up her second closest-to of the day with a shot to 33-6.

The downhill 17th was no issue for Leal, who had his ball stop 11-4 from the hole, while Don Richards (w) joined the party with his shot to 17-4.

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Growing up in the Coos Bay Ore., area, Sonoma Golf Club Assistant Professional Kyle “KJ” Johnson got to play some nice golf courses, which eventually led him to the University of Oregon, where he played for the Ducks for four years from 2002 to 2006.

After a stint at Crosswater Golf Club at Sunriver in Oregon, Johnson arrived at Sonoma Golf Club. Throughout that whole time, playing countless rounds of golf, he had never had the thrill of a hole-in-one.

That all changed on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

While out playing a casual round with Sonoma Golf Club member Steve Kyle, the long-hitting Johnson pulled out his gap-wedge on the par-3 17th hole and hit a shot that went straight at the flag. The ball landed about 10 feet past the hole and then spun back into the hole for an ace.

It was an exciting moment for the affable Johnson, who looks to not wait quite as long for his next ace.

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Next year will see the Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship return to Arizona after being played at Harding Park this year.

All is not lost for San Francisco golf fans, however, as the LPGA announced last week that it would return to the “City by the Bay” in April of 2014 for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

It will have been a four-year break since the ladies of professional golf last played in the Bay Area, when the Long’s Drug Charity Classic was played at Blackhawk Country Club in Danville.

A few lean years for the LPGA saw its schedule shrink to just 23 events, but with the influence of Commissioner Michael Whan, the Tour will tee-it-up 32 times in 2014.

The catchy name is thanks to the Swinging Skirts organization, which helps grow the game by running junior tournaments in Taiwan and Southern California.

Although Lake Merced has seen countless USGA qualifying events and the 2012 U.S. Girl’s Junior Amateur and the 2009 California State Amateur, the course has not held a professional event. The tree-lined and undulating fairways of the classic course are sure to be a strong test for the best lady golfers in the world.

More information will be available in Golf Notes as the tournament nears.

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Next door to Lake Merced, at Harding, there are rumblings that the PGA Tour will soon bring one of its marque events to the historic public layout.

Starting this Monday, Dec. 2, all 18 greens will be re-grassed with a stronger strain of bent-grass; this in an effort to make it less susceptible to poa-annua.

The hope is that the greens will be strong enough by 2015 that the WGC Accenture Match-Play might find a home at Harding (the current contract in Tucson Arizona runs through 2014).

If the Match-Play does not come, then there is a strong chance that the BMW Championship, the third of the four playoff events, would arrive in 2016. The small field, 70 players, and timing of the event, September, which is generally the best time for good weather in San Francisco, are all positives for the SF golf community.