This drive could have paid off very nicely

One thing stood between Rick Dimick and $100,000 last week: a golfer, Dalen DeMary, with driver in hand and whose task it was to hit one ball.

Into a 40-yard grid and well over 200 yards.

With hundreds of fans waiting, breathing stifled, silent.

Surrounded by a half-dozen television cameras catching every angle of the tense scene.

Did I mention the 100 grand?

It was the title match of the Exceptional Driver Championship at Mesquite, Nev., and Eagle Point's Dimick was on the threshold of earning a huge pile of cash and much notoriety or, if DeMary succeeded, getting what every other competitor got, a handshake and a thanks for trying the winner-take-all gig.

"You're sitting there going, 'It's totally out of your control,'" says Dimick. "It's the last ball and everyone knows it. You know he's feeling it, and that's some stress on him. It's pressure-packed. He's either going to hit it in or hit it out."

DeMary hit it in, pounding a 300-yard drive up the left side of the grid, 3 feet from the boundary.

Each player had worked their way through elimination rounds that began at midweek at Palms Golf Club. On Saturday, the final eight were bracketed into quarterfinals for match play.

Each player hit five balls. Points were awarded for distance and accuracy. Distance points began at 200 yards and increased with each 10 yards. Balls in the middle of the grid were worth more than those on the flanks.

Dimick, the third seed, won in the quarterfinals, 31-22, and in the semifinals, 29-21.

As the higher seed in the finals — DeMary was No. 5 — Dimick chose to go first and leave his foe to play catch-up.

Dimick put his first two drives in play, scoring nine and 10 points. He then hit two out of bounds before scoring nine on his final ball.

"The most I was out all week was maybe 10 feet," says Dimick, whose combination of length and accuracy was in contrast to many of the hitters who relied mostly on mammoth drives.

Then DeMary took aim. The latter's first and third balls were in, good for 12 points each. His second and fourth balls were out of the grid, resulting in the tense final moments before he delivered the 11-point back-breaker in a 35-28 win.

Dimick, who qualified last summer at Centennial Golf Club, was most nervous at the beginning of the competition, when 140 hopefuls from across North America teed it up.

"Then after awhile and you'd been on the box and hitting, it got kind of fun," he says. "But it was still nerve-racking, believe me."

Dimick, who has a plus-1.5 handicap, didn't go to great lengths to prepare. He spent a little extra time on the driving range and, when playing rounds of golf, tried to hit 150-yard markers with his drives.

His swing wasn't clicking at the outset last week, but it came together prior to match play.

"I found something and just started busting it," says Dimick. "It's one of those things where you just start feeling it. It was really easy from then on; a couple of swing keys and you're off and running."

Dimick, who also competed at the championship last year and was ousted after a few rounds, actually did earn something: exemption into next year's championships.

The contest will be shown on The Golf Channel on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. Pacific.


JOHN KANDARIS made it two Rogue Valley entrants in the EDC finals. The Talent golfer advanced from the first couple rounds before being eliminated. He admits he didn't practice up.

"It's kind of embarrassing, but I didn't do a darn thing," says Kandaris.

He hit a bucket of balls at Centennial on a Monday, then jumped in his car and drove to Mesquite.

"I'd been playing so poorly the last month that, basically, my expectations were very low," he says. "I could probably have practiced every single day, but I think it still comes down to the day of the competition and if you happen to be on."

Accuracy is his weakness, distance his strength. Nevertheless, he led his group after Day 1, then had a day off before returning for more competition.

"That's my excuse," he says with a laugh. "I had to sleep on that lead. I'm an old guy, too (soon to be 49). Hitting that many, I can only hit about 20 practice shots and then I get sore."


IT WAS A NICE Father's Day for Pat Daggitt. His son, Chris, who is tournament director at Centennial Golf Club, took him out at the course Sunday.

"It was very early, I might add," says Pat Daggitt. "It was 6:50. I almost didn't do it. That's the only day I get to sleep in. You'd think he'd be able to get a better time."

As it turned out, it was a great time.

At the 14th hole, Pat Daggitt recorded his first hole-in-one in 20-some years of play. Both his sons — Nick is the other — recorded aces at young ages.

Daggitt hit a 3-iron 194 yards into a slight breeze.

"It was one of those perfect little shots," he says. "I didn't knock it off a tree or a sprinkler head or roll it through a sand trap or skull it. It was just like you dream about."

The hole was cut back center, making it hard to see the end result. It was possible it could have disappeared off the back rather than in the cup, so the players craned their necks as they drove around the green and were elated at the result.


HAMILTON BAEHR, who led the first day of the Southwest Conference boys district golf tournament and ultimately finished fourth, took a run at qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur on Friday.

In 36-hole qualifying at the Oregon Golf Association course in Woodburn, the North Medford senior-to-be tied for 28th with a 12-over 156. His rounds were 79 and 77.

Alex Street, who will be a senior at St. Mary's, was six shots back and tied for 43rd. He shot 87 and 75.

Bobby Lange won at 135, followed by two others at 138. They advanced to the national championship.

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail

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