Rowland rides luck of draw to win Open

Chuck Rowland had a vested interest in David Toms' performance last weekend in the U.S. Open.

"I got my nose all over the TV screen," laughed Rowland, a member at Eagle Point Golf Club.

Ditto Ray Foulon, only his interest was in Hunter Mahan — even though Foulon had never heard of the unheralded PGA pro.

"I thought he was a bull rider," said Foulon, referring to former rodeo star Larry Mahan.

Rowland and Foulon were among 32 Eagle Point members who took part in the club's U.S. Open Sweeps tournament, and they finished first and second, thanks largely to the pros they drew Saturday morning.

The format instituted by Jeremy Dunkason, general manager and director of golf, called for each Eagle Point member to draw blindly from a hat a player who made the cut in the PGA's second major of the season, the U.S. Open.

The members then went out and played 18 holes, and their net scores were latched to their pros' Saturday and Sunday scores. The lowest combined total was the winner.

That would be Rowland, with help from Toms. Rowland shot an 83 with a handicap of 16, giving him a net 67. Combined with Toms' rounds of 73 and 72, he posted a score of 212.

Right behind was Foulon, who fashioned an 80 with a 12 handicap, giving him a net 68. Mahan matched Toms over the weekend, only in reverse, going 72-73.

In essence, with their players tying, the tournament came down to Rowland and Foulon head-to-head.

The only other member to shoot a sub-70 net round was Bill Harrison, whose 69 was teamed with Scott Verplank's 74-72, giving him third at 215. The others to cash were Larry Schmaltz (with Bubba Watson) at 218, Mike Bottjer (with Lee Janzen) at 219, Jeff Spear (with Nick O'Hern) at 220 and Phil Davies (with Lee Westwood) at 223.

"The key to this thing is picking the right pro when you reach into the hat," said Rowland, 70.

Dunkason put the top 40 to make the cut in the draw. No one selected Tiger Woods, the world's best player, or No. 3-ranked Jim Furyk, who tied Woods for second place, one shot behind Angel Cabrera.

And Ben Shapiro, the man who picked Cabrera, wasn't the better for it. In a nutshell, he didn't help his partner enough. Shapiro has a handicap of 10 but shot well over what he's accustomed to, coming in at 90.

"That's pretty horrible for me," he said. "A couple shots in the hazards just kind of killed me. Trying to get out of that thick rough, you can lose shots real quick."

In fact, right before he drew, Shapiro called out Cabrera's name, hoping to draw the Argentinian, who led the Open through 36 holes.

Rowland wasn't even going to enter the tournament. Spear came by and told his friend he'd signed him up.

Rowland and his wife, Sandi, moved to the Rogue Valley last month from a golf community in Arizona. They had commuted here in the summers, living in motorhome at a Shady Cove RV park they once owned. While here, he served as a marshal at Stone Ridge Golf Club.

Rowland's 83 was his best round at Eagle Point. He usually shoots in the mid to upper 80s, he said, but a good day of driving the ball and a hot putter saw him through.

"The greens are so fast here," he said. "It's like putting on marble."

Perhaps a taste of what his pro went through at tough Oakmont Country Club?

"That was unbelievable," Rowland said of the Open venue. "I would not want to play that course every day."

And he didn't mind drawing Toms.

"I hope to shout," he said. "I like all those guys. I know Toms is always up there in the top 10, or close to it. But I could have drawn whoever came in last and it wouldn't have mattered what I shot. That's what this tournament is about. You have to be lucky and have a good day on the course yourself, plus you have to have a good draw."

One of the fun parts of the event is going home to watch your partner on TV. Well, sort of. Foulon never saw his guy, but they did show highlights of Rowland's partner.

"They showed two highlights of Toms and I hated that," said Foulon, "because you knew he was doing something good."

Dunkason ran a similar tournament for the Masters, and will do one for the other major on American soil, the PGA Championship. Foulon won the Masters when he was paired with Zach Johnson and will be in the PGA field.

"I've got to be like those guys," he said of the pros. "I'm looking for two majors."


GEORGE LONGIE ought to change his last name to "Longevity."

The 85-year-old was at it again Thursday at Stewart Meadows Golf Course, recording his seventh career hole-in-one and having to explain the secret to such success into his mid-80s. The usual, he explained: He walks about four miles a day and plays golf three times a week.

Then, Longie said, there's the theory his buddies have.

"I just came back from the cafe and they were all saying, 'It's all those young girls you go with,'" he laughed. "They were just pulling my leg."

Longie aced the 162-yard fifth hole with a 5-wood. He played alongside Bill Branham, Monty Monteith and Otis Johnson on senior day. The shot bounced in front of the green and scooted to the back pin.

"I didn't know it went in," said Longie, who retired from the Mail Tribune 20 years ago, where he worked in composing. "One of the guys said, 'I think it went in ... I'm sure it went in.' We walked up, it wasn't lying around anywhere, so we looked in the hole and there it was."

Longie took up golf when he retired. His other holes-in-one have come at Bear Creek (two), the V.A. Dom, Laurel Hill and one each in Geneva, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas.


THE GOLF TEAMS — both boys and girls — at three Medford high schools are being well taken care of, thanks to an annual tournament headed by Rogue Valley Country Club pro Jim Wise and businessman and top-notch amateur Glen Clark.

The sixth annual tournament June 9-10 raised slightly more than $20,000, eclipsing last year's figure by more than $3,000. That money goes to programs at North and South Medford and St. Mary's.

"We have so many companies around here that are givers," said Clark, "and they get hit up so often. It's remarkable they keep giving for causes like this."

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