Missing a prime chance to end his match in regulation with a 5-foot putt that lipped out, Barry certainly was bummed but couldn’t help but gain a second wind as he and the rest of his semifinal foursome walked past the clubhouse and back to where their day had started several hours earlier.
That opening hole for the weekend has been the source of many magical moments for Barry, most recently in 2014 when he capped his fourth championship in style by draining a 66-foot putt on the 37th hole during a back-and-forth match against three-time defending champion Kevin Murphy.
Barry didn’t need to go that far this time around, but with the door left open by opponent Brian Jones, he certainly had a good feeling standing over his 15-foot potential match-winner.
“It was a little uphill so I could be more aggressive with it,” said the 31-year-old Barry, who now lives in Eugene. “I gave it a little more pace and I knew about halfway it had a pretty good shot. When I saw it fall in it was a pretty good feeling.”
Barry’s 19th hole dramatics over Jones, who was playing his first SOGC and hadn’t seen the course until Wednesday, was duplicated moments later when Ashland’s Matt Hedges rolled in his own testy 12-footer to outlast Taylor Klemp and secure his spot in today’s men’s championship final.
Barry and Hedges will start the 36-hole finale at 9:20 a.m. for the first 18 holes, then play the final 18 beginning at 3 p.m.
“It was breaking about a good 10 inches and I just told myself to put it on line and see what happens,” the 22-year-old Hedges said of his match-winner. “I knew the putt — I believe Mike Barry had it in regulation on the first hole — and I just kind of pictured that in my head and then I just kind of dug deep and gave it all I had.”
“I just kind of had to trust that it was going to fall,” he added of playing the shot well off the hole, “and luckily it did.”
In Sunday’s other semifinal action, Trina Jones scored a 1-up win over Johnna Nealy and Jessica Young won 3 and 2 over Terry Levis to set their 36-hole women’s championship final, which will be at 9:10 a.m. and resume at 2:50 p.m.
In junior-senior men, Steve Taormino won on the 19th hole over Ryan Schaefer and John Ellsworth won 2 and 1 over Cameron Mitchell. Taormino and Ellsworth will tee off at 9 a.m. today for their first 18 holes, then return at 2:30 p.m. for the final 18.
Rich Flink won 3 and 2 and over Eric Austad in the senior men’s semifinals Sunday and will face Kevin Klabunde, a 1-up winner over Mark Wilson, in today’s 18-hole finals beginning at 2:10 p.m.
Today’s senior women’s championship will featured Shelly Lehrkind and Marla Parmele at 2:20 p.m. after Lehrkind won 3 and 2 over Tina Blum and Parmele edged Jan Hughes 1 up.
The super senior men’s championship will be between Doug Olson and David Orr at 2 p.m., and the legendary final will see Robert Maentz take on George Mack Sr. at 1:50 p.m.
Maybe the only thing to top the dual men’s championship semifinals ending with lengthy putts on the 19th hole was how the professional flight finals were determined. Last year’s men’s championship runner-up Joey Walker dropped in a 40-foot chip to edge Ed Fisher on the 25th hole in the longest semifinal of the day, while Murphy, who won consecutive titles from 2011-13, topped Chris Daggitt, 4 and 3. Walker and Murphy will play at 9:30 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.
For Jones, Sunday’s action capped an eventful week that saw him qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships on Monday, drive up to Medford on Tuesday and hit the RVCC course for the first time Tuesday. His first few rounds didn’t exactly set him up for Sunday, however, as he took his first turn on the inside nine holes and caught a few bad breaks against Barry.
“I told him walking down 16 that he was the better player today but it’s kind of unfortunate that he wasn’t able to see that nine holes before today because it is pretty tricky,” said Barry, who has only missed the 2005 and 2017 tournaments in his 13 years of playing. “For not seeing that nine holes before, he played it pretty well, but I was fortunate to pick up a couple holes with par.”
Jones was 2 up when, much to his surprise, he went long and out of bounds on his approach to the 13th green to give a hole back. He was then unable to get up and down on the 14th hole after Barry reached in two shots and suddenly the match was all square. When Jones three-putted the par-3 15th, Barry finally took the advantage but couldn’t hold it for long after his opponent stuck his tee shot on the 17th green while Barry was well off behind the green and ultimately lost the hole to again go all square.
The 18th hole saw Jones hit his approach shot to the base of a lonely tree in the fairway and, after getting relief, put his approach shot to the back end of the green while Barry was nestled in perfect position to close the match — it just didn’t happen.
“I thought I had a good shot of making my putt on 18,” said Barry, who was the 2016 runner-up in his last SOGC. “I either needed a little bit more break or a little more pace on my putt. I felt so confident over that one though. I’d been missing my putts a little to the right all day and that one broke left so I figured if I took a little bit of pace off of it, it would be perfect. I knew I was going to make it and when I saw it lip out, I was bummed, but I knew I still had some golf to play.”
And on his favorite hole, no less.
“I love this hole,” Barry said standing alongside No. 1 after his win. “I have great memories on this hole. It’s just a matter of kind of shutting it off upstairs and letting my body take over and do what I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of times in hitting a tee shot down No. 1, a decent second shot and then try to get up and down, and that’s exactly what happened.”
For Jones, it was hard to be too upset over the way the day went for him.
“Losing on the 19th hole, you can never feel bad about that, especially to a player of Mike’s caliber,” said the 39-year-old. “Somebody was going to make a putt, and Mike was the one who did it.”
And now it’s on to the final day again as Barry attempts to secure his fifth championship.
“I’m excited but I’ve got a lot of work to do before tomorrow morning because my game is still a work in progress right now,” he admitted. “I’m trying to piece some small things together.”
And the matchup doesn’t get any easier against Hedges, who is missing his first week of school at California State University Monterey Bay to play his first SOGC.
“Matt and Taylor both played really well today,” said Barry. “I knew if I was fortunate enough to win, it was going to be a tough finals against either one. Matt’s a great player, he definitely played better than I did today so I’ve got to step up and get some stuff figured out. But I’m confident; it’s a long day and a long mental challenge so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve just got to stay confident with my clubs and stay positive.”
That same approach worked well for Hedges, who went 1 up on the 14th hole but saw Klemp roll in a clutch 7-footer to halve the 15th hole and then stick his approach shot on the 16th hole from about 145 yards out to within two inches of the hole to pull even in the match.
Hedges nearly dropped in a 15-footer on the 17th to gain the upperhand again, then missed another chance when he ran his 10-footer just past the hole on the 18th.
Those missed chances served as inspiration for his tee shot on the 19th hole, where he ripped it down the middle, leaving only 167 yards to the green on the 539-yard hole. His pitching wedge approach dropped below the hole and gave him a good chance to close out Klemp soon after.
“It was a little downwind and downhill plus a little adrenaline,” added Hedges, “but it was the number.”
And now Hedges hopes he can dial a few more in again today against Barry, who he’s excited to face. Barry won titles in 2007, ‘08, ‘10 and ‘14.
“You can hear from the crowd, he’s a local legend,” said Hedges of Barry. “Just to be in the final with the likes of Mike Barry or Kevin Murphy or Dylan Wu ... as a kid growing up you kind of always looked up to them so it’ll be pretty fun.”
SOGC MATCH PLAY
MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Mike Barry def. Brian Jones 19th hole, Matt Hedges def. Taylor Klemp 19th hole
MEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Mark Wilson def. Kevin Knox 2 & 1, Gerry Snyder def. JC Ritter 2 & 1
MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Ryan Kantor def. Ryan Suvoy 1 up, Jake Rockwell def. Gabe Provencio 1 up
MEN’S THIRD FLIGHT
Kieth Dierkes def. Timothy Hornecker 1 up, Tyler Arnsberg def. Rich Mettler 2 up
MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT
Alex Williamson def. Justin Hanlin 1 up, Josh Huffman def. Christopher Ellis 19th hole
MEN’S FIFTH FLIGHT
Ben Running def. John Campoy 5 & 4, Shawn Shumate def. Dustin Wallace 1 up
MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT
Tanner Lawton def. Tristian Lallo 1 up, Collin Kruger def. Scott Mettler 1 up
MEN’S SEVENTH FLIGHT
Taylor Boyd def. Jeff Drake 2 up, Stephen Odell def. Adam Reed 19th hole
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Steve Taormino def. Ryan Schaefer 19th hole, John Ellsworth def. Cameron Mitchell 2 & 1
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Todd Dixon def. Robert Neff 1 up, Brandon Crosier def. Andy Baida 2 up
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Chris Norlander def. Brooks Gard 1 up, Chris Sollom def. Scott Loyd 20th hole
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Bill Savarino def. Joe Davis 1 up, Jim Mansfield Jeff Morgan 2 & 1
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Greg Jones def. John Couch 1 up, Darin Hess def. Phil Heiner 1 up
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Kevin Jones def. Alex Clark 2 up, Rick Hutchins def. Greg Jacobs 2 & 1
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
Thadd Reeder def. Jason Rowan 5 & 3, Jim Stormo def. Milo Smith 1 up
MEN’S JUNIOR-SENIOR SEVENTH FLIGHT
Brian Sherill def. Jason Johnson 4 & 3, Brian Carr def. Billy Burke 4 & 3
MEN’S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Rich Flink def. Eric Austad 3 & 2, Kevin Klabunde def. Mark Wilson Sr. 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR FIRST FLIGHT
Kenneth Stringer def. Marty Morlan 3 & 2, Bruce Hart def. Scott Moore 20th hole
MEN’S SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Dan Keck def. Tony Nieto 1 up, Robert Hyer def. Tim Trower 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR THIRD FLIGHT
Brian Adolph def. Paul Reynolds 1 up, Stan Presley def. Brent Orrico 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Brian Odell def. Lance Hunter 2 & 1, Brad Heilman def. Richard Warner 1 up
MEN’S SENIOR FIFTH FLIGHT
Kevin Aguirre def. Rick McCabe 4 & 3, Ron Moore def. Michael Diehl 1 up
Joey Walker def. Ed Fisher 25th hole, Kevin Murphy def. Chris Daggitt 4 & 3
PROFESSIONAL FIRST FLIGHT
Scott Simpson def. Shawn Cockrum 1 up, Jeff Ott def. Facey Orette 2 & 1
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Trina Jones def. Johnna Nealy 1 up, Jessica Young def. Terry Levis 3 & 2
WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
Kelly Loeb def. Kirsten Reed def. 3 & 2, Marianne Pea def. Rachael Wickenheiser 2 up
WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Genna Mettler def. Sarah Clark 1 up, Laura Rommes def. Laura Pinkham 2 & 1
WOMEN’S THIRD FLIGHT
Michele Orrico def. Barb Stormo 4 & 3, Janice Moore def. Tory Nieto 1 up
SENIOR WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Shelley Lehrkind def. Tina Blum 3 & 2, Marla Parmele def. Jan Hughes 1 up
SENIOR WOMEN’S FIRST FLIGHT
LaVonne Kirkwood def.Sharon Swartsley 5 & 3, Janet Stark def. Karen Fay 1 up
SENIOR WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Sue Hunter def. Darla Allen 1 up, Michele Sandifur def. Barb Reed 1 up
SENIOR WOMEN’S THIRD FLIGHT
Dana McIntosh def. Susan Stringer 2 & 1, Jane Conrad def. Pam Schepis 4 & 2