As unintentional as it was, there was no more of a symbolic moment than Kevin Klabunde's second shot on the 16th hole of the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships Sunday at Centennial Golf Club.
The startling fairway shot traveled nearly the length of three football fields, scooted across the green that was inhabited by Mike Barry and his playing partners and came to rest in the rough behind it.
Yes, he hit into them.
Yes, that is considered uncool in golfdom.
And, yes, however unwitting, it sent a message: I'm still here.
Klabunde, ever the gentleman, got to the green with a sheepish look, then made a beeline for the next tee box, where he apologized and shook the hand of each player. Soon after, they were shaking his hand in congratulations for having captured the men's division for the fourth time.
"I felt really bad about that," Klabunde said of uncorking the 280-yard-plus fairway wood. "I didn't think there was any way I could get there."
The shot set up a birdie and created a two-shot swing because Barry — who appeared to have matters in hand — bogeyed the hole. Barry then bogeyed the next two holes, and Klabunde needed only a bogey on No. 18 to win by a shot over the player he coached at North Medford High.
Klabunde's two-day score of 147 was 3 over par. Barry shot 148 and Rick Dimick 150.
In other divisions, Stephanie Johns rolled to a 20-shot victory in the women's with a 137. She followed Saturday's course-record 68 with a 69 on Sunday.
Ken Peterson won the seniors with a 151, one stroke ahead of Greg Miller.
Bob Harrell crafted a 143 to claim the super seniors.
As the final nine holes unfolded, it seemed improbable that anyone but Barry would triumph. The 21-year-old, who earlier in the week competed in the U.S. Amateur, birdied Nos. 10, 13 and 14 to pull in front of a cluster of players who were in it at day's star.
Klabunde, meanwhile, didn't do anything spectacularly good or bad.
He just won.
"That doesn't happen very often," he said of beating Barry. "I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm in the same category as Mike. But it is nice to get one in on him."
That Klabunde, 54, hoisted the big trophy again shouldn't come as a surprise, said Barry. He noted that his former mentor made a charge before Barry won the men's title at Rogue Valley Country Club, and the
two "had a bunch of good matches in high school."
The complexion of the tournament changed at No. 16.
When Barry got there, he hit a drive that left 250 yards to the pin. He elected to hit a 17-degree hybrid — and later admitted he wasn't committed to it — and pushed it into the hay right of the green.
He then got fancy with his next shot and whiffed the ball completely.
Finally, he punched it onto the green and made a two-putt bogey.
"I tried to get a little cute," said Barry of his flop attempt. "I opened up the club face to hit it high and you can't do that in that stuff. I went right under the ball."
At the par-3 17th, his tee shot hit the fringe and spun away from the green, setting up a three-putt.
At 18, his drive sailed right and trickled to the bottom of the tall face of a bunker, leading to bogey.
Behind him, Klabunde realized he was a co-leader only after the birdie at No. 16.
He nearly holed out from the fringe on No. 17, settling for par, then could afford a three-putt 18th.
"I'm kind of a plodder," said Klabunde. "I don't make a ton of birdies or a ton of bogeys."
It was a par at No. 15 that might have saved the day.
Coming off a bogey 4 at the 13th, Klabunde executed a difficult, 60-yard pitch from the rough after escaping a fairway bunker.
"I tried to hit a low skipper with some stuff on it," he said.
It worked perfectly, and his 2-foot putt kept back-to-back bogeys off his card.
"My time is limited," said Klabunde. "I have to take advantage of this when I can."
Now he's looking forward to the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament, which begins with qualifying Tuesday at RVCC.
He wouldn't say this win will boost his confidence.
"But it can't hurt," said Klabunde, who has one SOGT men's title and two junior-senior crowns to his credit. "I still didn't hit all the shots the way I wanted to hit them. I've got a little pull-hook I've got to figure out."
If he does, his opponents can expect a few more messages next week.
R.V. Stroke Play Championships
MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
RESULTS — 1, Kevin Klabunde, 147; 2, Mike Barry, 148; 3, Rick Dimick, 150; 4, Glen Clark, 151; 5, Mark Wilson, 152; 6, Brooks Newsome, 152; 7, Jay Klemp, 152; 8, Marty Morlan, 154; 9, Derek Zwagerman, 154; 10, Jerry Anderson, 155.
GROSS — 1, D.L. Richardson, 152; 2, Craig Knips, 154; 3, Toby Stanley, 155; 4, Dennis Slattery, 159; 5, Jay Osborn, 161.
NET — 1, Jefferson Horn, 140; 2, Matt McMillan, 142; 3, Josh Desmond, 142; 4, Dick Taylor, 144; 5, Layne Sims, 146.
GROSS — 1, Matt Pinder, 154; 2, Alan Olson, 159; 3, Dan Cesaro, 164; 4, Jesse Brannock, 166; 5, Sean Byrne, 166.
NET — 1, Dan Neves, 129; 2, Eric Schwarm, 134; 3, Marv Ransom, 137; 4, Don Schamanek, 138; 5, Eddie Bostwick, 141.
GROSS — 1, Ken Peterson, 151; 2, Greg Miller, 152; 3, Craig Galpern, 154; 4, Bob Dickey, 155.
NET — 1, Don Sever, 144; 2, Kurt Waldmann, 144; 3, Tom Jarvis, 144; 4, Wayne Van Wey, 145.
GROSS — 1, Arn Wihtol, 164; 2, Rod Reid, 167; 3, Art Hughes, 168; 4, Dave Stiemert, 170.
NET — 1, Tommy Dereus, 132; 2, Ray Figueira, 143; 3, Troy Brown, 147; 4, Bill Crowley, 150.
SUPER SENIORS OPEN FLIGHT
GROSS — 1, Bob Harrell, 143; 2, Bill Doss, 152; 3, Duane Nelson.
NET — 1, Doug Rowe, 136; 2, John Ouellet, 136; 3, Bob Kaczor, 137.
GROSS — 1, Stephanie Johns, 137; 2, Linda Johnson, 157.
NET — 1, Parm Turnipseed, 137; 2, Gail Jones, 149; 3, Debbie Cordell, 152.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org