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Locals learned lessons

June 09, 2005

BRYCE ALDERTON

With Monday's U.S. Open sectional qualifying come and gone, Newport

Beach's contingent will take what they learned and fight on for the

rest of the year.

Don DuBois and Stan Watkins missed qualifying for the U.S. Open

championship at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., June 16-19, but

still gained knowledge from their 36-hole outings Monday at El

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Caballero Country Club.

Watkins teaches at the Golf Lab, an indoor practice facility in

Costa Mesa owned by Corona del Mar resident Eric Woods, while DuBois

is an executive vice president for a title insurance company who has

competed in two U.S. Opens -- in 1986 and 1989.

DuBois, a member at Big Canyon Country Club, shot 7-over-par

(75-74 -- 149) in the 36-hole sectional round, finishing in a

three-way tie for 29th at El Caballero, while Watkins ended 11-over

(78-75 -- 153). Only four golfers out of 68 qualified for the U.S.

Open. Nick Jones of Los Angeles earned medalist honors at 3-under

(67-72 -- 139).

El Caballero, from what I hear, is a stern test with slick greens

and penalizing rough that offers as stern a test as there is to reach

one of golf's toughest exams.

"I got off to a rough start in the morning and had to play catch

up," said DuBois, who qualified for both the U.S. Mid-Amateur and

U.S. Amateur in 2003. "The pins were in tough spots and the greens

were bordering on ... they were almost too severe. You had a six-foot

putt and if you missed, it would roll 10 feet by. But I flat out

didn't get it done. I had three bad holes [two double bogeys and a

triple bogey] and a couple other mistakes.

"There were some sloppy mistakes and those mistakes revolved

around my swing. My ball striking wasn't where I wanted it."

Watkins echoed similar sentiments about El Caballero.

"The greens were much faster than what I saw Wednesday [June 1,

when he played a practice round]," Watkins said. "I was worried about

my tee shots coming in, but that wasn't where I faltered as much as

on the greens. You had to play defensively out there. You tried to

keep it below the hole. It definitely got tougher and faster as the

wind picked up. It's a great golf course, though."

But DuBois, the 1980 Arizona state amateur champion, won't have to

wait long for his next competitive tournament.

He is scheduled to play in the California Golf Association

championship June 20-25 at Poppy Hills Golf Club and Pebble Beach

Golf Links.

DuBois is also exempt into the Southern California Amateur July

8-10 at Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita.

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