Greg Miller didn’t play as well in his opening match as he did a couple days earlier, when he was the men’s super senior division medalist in the Southern Oregon Golf Championships.
But he pulled off enough Houdini acts to outlast fellow Medford player John Johnson, 1 up, as match play began Thursday in the 89th edition of the tournament at Rogue Valley Country Club.
Miller shot 70 on Tuesday to become medalist. It’s the third division in which he’s earned that distinction, after having also accomplished it in the regular and junior-senior divisions.
He would have liked to have carried that game over to match play, but it wasn’t to be.
“Everything felt bad,” he admitted. “I was hitting the ball in the trees.”
Still, he managed a 5-over-par round and the victory.
Among other super senior winners were former SOGC champions Doug Olson, Doug Ward and Dan Dixon. Olson beat Conrad Caprez, 2 and 1; Ward topped Billy Crenshaw, 3 and 1; and Dixon defeated Tom Powley, 2 and 1.
In the men’s regular, medalist and former winner Chris Polski downed Steve Forbes, 3 and 2; Mike Barry, seeking his fifth division title, defeated Matthew Breceda, 6 and 5; Riggs Loftin downed Eric Englebach, 6 and 5; and Taylor Klemp topped Lance Fowler, 1 up.
In the men’s junior-senior, Steve Taormino, the division winner three of the past four years, was a 3-and-2 victor over Paul Kometz; former champion Bret Breeze beat Michael Bauer, 5 and 4; Jeff Barry downed Benny Shapiro, 1 up; and Ryan Schaefer upended Mark Mullaney, 7 and 5.
In the men’s senior, winners included Brad Bills, 1 up over John Justin; Glen Clark, 2 and 1 over Paul Gulick; Scott Tuttle, 1 up over Anthony Marquez; Kevin Klabunde, 2 up over Bruce Mendelson; and Mark Wilson, 1 up over Joel Jessel.
In the women’s, Johnna Nealy topped Kelly Loeb in a matchup of former winners, 3 and 2; defending champion Aubrie Street downed Kirsten Reed, 2 up; medalist Sandy Day defeated Tracie Armitage, 4 and 3; 16-year-old Baylee Hammericksen beat Lindsey Crosier, 3 and 1; and city champion Jessica Young thwarted Marianne Pea, 7 up.
Miller got off to a fast start against Johnson, winning the first two holes, but it was a short-lived advantage. And after Miller hit it out of bounds on 10, he was 2 down.
Johnson had a stretch of three straight bogeys to allow Miller to take a 1-up edge, but they were all square going into the 18th.
Johnson couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker, and Miller converted a 7-foot par putt for the win.
For all his wayward shots, Miller — who has captured division titles in the regular, senior and, most recently, the super senior in 2016 — managed a decent score.
“That was pretty good for the way I was hitting the golf ball,” he said. “I didn’t hit it anywhere near as good as I did in qualifying and couldn’t get birdie putts to go in.”
Johnson has been working on his putting, said Miller, and it showed.
“He really putted beautifully,” said Miller. “I think he only missed one putt he needed to make. He was knocking putts in from everywhere.”
Nealy and Loeb are part of a loaded women’s bracket, which features seven former champions.
Nealy’s titles came in 2001 and ‘06, but she hasn’t been able to play in it much in the last decade. Loeb won in ‘10 and ‘11.
“It’s always been my plan to play every year,” said Nealy, a former University of Oregon player from Grants Pass. “However, life got in the way, like work. I travel quite a bit for work. I hope this year is the start of many years that I’ll be able to play.”
She taught at North Medford for seven years and was an assistant golf coach for the Black Tornado. She now is in medical sales.
Nealy considers herself a weekend warrior, she said, playing as work allows, taking occasional lessons and getting her competitive fix in scramble tournaments.
Her drive is still there, however.
“The hardest part about it is, you try to make the same shot you used to be able to do and they don’t quite turn out how they used to turn out,” she said.
Nealy was 1 over in her match against Loeb, who wasn’t far off that pace.
“We had a great match,” said Nealy.
Loeb birdied the 13th hole to get to within 1 down. They halved 14, but Nealy won the next two to finish the match. She closed it by getting up and down from behind the 16th hole, near a drinking fountain.
“Off the tee, I was very sporadic, hitting it left,” said Nealy. “My short irons were pretty strong.”
She’ll play Day in the second round today, a matchup of Grants Pass Golf Club members.
Matches continue through Monday, when championships in all divisions will be decided.
SOGC Match Play
MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Chris Polski def. Steve Forbes 3 & 2, Brian Jones def. Kevin Knox 2 & 1, Jake Quast def. Curtis Wagoner 1 up, Michael Borton def. Seth Walters 6 & 5, Mike Nieto def. Scott Weiland 1 up, Jacob Gooding def. Logan Artner 1 up, Mike Barry def. Matthew Breceda 6 & 5, Jordan Jacobs def. Mark Wilson 1 up, Taylor Klemp def. Lance Fowler 1 up, Matt Stringer def. Charlie Moore 2 & 1, Bryan Wheelock def. Travis Campoy 19th hole, Ethan DeVore def. Gerry Snyder 2 & 1, Riggs Loftin def. Eric Englebach 6 & 5, Travis Brink def. JC Ritter 1 up, Matthew Hedges def. Jeremiah Paladino 4 & 2, Kurt Schneider def. Brandon Chun 2 up.
MEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Ryan Suvoy def. Keith Dierkes 2 & 1, Charlie Walker def. Jason Hanlin 3 & 2, Michael Wurzell def. Chase Schumacher 4 & 3, Ryan Cantor def. Timothy Hornecker 1 up, Kristopher Kaufman def. Spencer Frantz 1 up, Jake Rockwell def. Tyler Arnsberg 1 up, Mike Hagert def. Maxwell Lewis 8 & 7, Gabe Provencio def. Rich Mettler 6 & 5.
MEN’S FOURTH FLIGHT
Craig Fox def. John Campoy 2 & 1, Alec Williamson def. Ian Norgan 4 & 3, Josh Pean def. Ben Running 4 & 3, Justin Hanlin def. Gregory Beckner 1 up, Josh Huffman def. Tim Shaw 2 & 1, Morgan Hawkins def. Shawn Shumate 1 up, Christopher Ellis def. James Russell 2 up, Dylan Schwarm def. Dustin Wallace 1 up.
MEN’S SIXTH FLIGHT
Tristian Lallo bye, Dave Mettler def. Jeff Drake 1 up, Chad Day def. Shane Maclauchlan 6 & 5, Tanner Lawton def. Taylor Boyd 6 & 5, Scott Mettler def. Alex Aaronson 1 up, Jeremy Ross def. Adam Reed 1 up, Ceasar Espino def. Scott Sterton 1 up, Collin Kruger def. Stephen Odell 4 & 3.
JUNIOR-SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Steve Taormino def. Paul Kometz 3 & 2, Parrish Barker def. Craig Knips 4 & 3, David Cuttrell def. Todd Dixon 1 up, Todd Couch def. Todd Ostenson 1 up, Ryan Schaefer def. Mark Mullaney 7 & 5, Tim Arnsberg def Mike Snowden 2 & 1, Bret Breeze def. Michael Bauer 5 & 4, Johnny Mansfield def. Robert Neff 1 up, Cameron Mitchell def. Joe Bowles 5 & 4, Richard Owens, Jr def. Andy Baida 2 & 1, Scott Wise def. Ian Powers 5 & 4, Gary Kovac def. Bobby Foote 5 & 3, Jeff Barry def. Benny Shapiro 1 up, Chris Gonczeruk def. Ralph Wallis 3 & 2, John Ellsworth def. Brandon Crosier 2 & 1, Eddie Bostwick def. Keith Lallo 1 up.
SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Glen Clark def. Paul Gulick 2 & 1, Rich Flink def. Ken Stringer 3 & 2, Marshall Holman def. Gary Loeb 1 up, Brad Bills def. John Justin 3 & 2, Steve Wood def. Jeffrey Blum 1 up, Kevin Wu def. Marty Morlan 1 up, Eric Austad def. Dave Allen 6 & 4, Jim Overmeyer def. David Voss 2 up, Scott Tuttle def. Anthony Marquez 1 up, Kevin Dixon def. Bruce Hart 3 & 2, Kevin Klabunde def. Bruce Mendelson 2 up, Kevin Croucher def. David George 6 & 5, Mark Wilson def. Joel Jessel 1 up, David Kaplan def. Scott Moore 1 up, Alex Merkner def. Dave Card 1 up, Brent Barr def. Tom Pepple 4 & 2.
SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Dan Keck def. Brian Adolf 1 up, Jimmy White def. Gary Sterton 4 & 2,Tony Nieto def. Paul Reynolds 19th hole, Evan McArthur def. Jerry Quast 5 & 4, Doug Engle def. Dwayne McIntosh 1 up, Robert Hyer def. Stan Presley 2 & 1, Steve Watkins def. Brent Orrico 3 & 1, Tim Trower def. Doug Hartley 2 & 1.
SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Brian Odell def. Scott Lubich 6 & 5, Greg Cotton def. Rick McCabe 6 & 5, Ron Merryman def. Kevin Aguirre 2 up, Lance Hunter def. Christian Carrigan 1 up, Brad Heilman def. Craig Schumacher 2 up, Ron Harvey def. Michael Diehl 1 up, Richard Warner def. Mike Snyder 1 up, Tim Gray def. Ron Moore 5 & 4.
SUPER SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Greg Miller def. John Johnson 1 up, Bob Dickey def. Patrick Daggitt 19th hole, Doug Olson def. Conrad Caprez 2 & 1, Dan Dixon def. Tom Powley 2 & 1, Doug Ward def. Billy Crenshaw 3 & 1, David Orr def. Lang Bates 1 up, Chris Littleton def. Scott Mayfield 1 up, Jerry Eklund def. Kenny Weist 2 & 1.
SUPER SENIOR SECOND FLIGHT
Ron Lewis def. Larry Garvin 3 & 2, Ron Howard def. Robert Vetorino 3 & 2, Mike Smail def. Dodd Samuel 20th hole, Carl Harsch def. Jim Hatton 1 up, Terry Anderson def. Terry Rasmussen 2 & 1, Stan Sherer def. Vaughn Schneider 6 & 5, Ross Cooley def. Les Cracraft 5 & 3, Gordon Empey def. John Dunkin 1 up.
SUPER SENIOR FOURTH FLIGHT
Mark Pagan def. Steve Boldish 1 up, Louis Tittle def. Scott Swendiman 6 & 5, Michael Cooper def. Jerry Sessions 2 up, Wayne VanWey def. Bob Wolfe 19th hole, John Kruesi def. Neil Smith 1 up, Brian Schmitz def. Gary Bates 19th hole, Richard Brekke def. Jerry Carstens 2 & 1, Tim Wray def. John Liston 2 & 1.
SUPER SENIOR SIXTH FLIGHT
Eldon Powley def. John Bucchino 1 up, Allen Carlson def. David Runyon 4 & 3, Don Pinkham def. Jim Hauck 1 up, John Lawton def. Tom Barry 1 up, Mark Fawver def. Roger Peck 5 & 4, Michael Goldman def. Samuel Dwight 2 up, Tom Michaels def. Ron Kantor 1 up, Kenneth Linden def. Jim Garrison 9 & 8.
SUPER SENIOR EIGHTH FLIGHT
Mike Armitage def. Paul Schleinitz 2 & 1, Michael Confer def. Gary Wood 2 & 1, Frank Lucas def. Tom Urby 3 & 2, Rodger Campuzano def. Cliff Barnett 19th hole, Jim Barry def. Dan Marshall 1 up, George Parsons def. Mitchell Gibb 4 & 3, Gilbert Roque def. Patrick O’Brien 2 & 1, John Rey def. Steve Warrington 1 up.
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT
Sandy Day def. Tracie Armitage 4 & 3, Johnna Nealy def. Kelly Loeb 3 & 2, Aubrie Street def. Kirsten Reed 2 up, Trina Jones def. Amanda Nealy 2 up, Baylee Hammericksen def. Lindsey Crosier 3 &1, Jessica Young def. Marianne Pea 7 up, Terry Levis def. Rachael Wickenheiser 2 up, Toni Watkins def. Melinda Heiner 19th hole.
WOMEN’S SECOND FLIGHT
Sarah Clark bye, Francie Bostwick def. Michele Orrico 1 up, Genna Mettler def. Barb Stormo 1 up, Christine Mascal def Ashley Snowden 1 up, Laura Rommes def. Heather Wise 10 & 8, Makenna Clark def. Janice Moore 2 & 1, Julia Tissen def. Dana Clark 1 up, Laura Pinkham def. Tory Nieto 19th hole.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or email@example.com.