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Costa Mesa City Championship:

Locals still in hunt

GOLF: Tipton, Sostak, Carpenter, Vallely and Shahi all in position to challenge leader Harding in today’s final round.

August 02, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — Marcus Sostak believes the key to success in tournament play is convincing himself he is merely playing a round of golf with good friends, with nothing more at stake than friendly bragging rights.

Of course it helps support this scenario when he is, in fact, paired with familiar faces, as he was Saturday in the opening round of the Costa Mesa City Championships at the Mesa Linda course of the Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club.

Sostak, a former Estancia High standout who has transferred from the University of Oregon to Orange Coast College, where he plans to play next spring, shot four-under-par 66 Saturday in a group that included Estancia High products Andy Rothman and Jeff Ohland.

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Heading into today’s final round, on the Los Lagos course, Sostak, a three-time Golden West League individual champion while at Estancia, is in a six-way tie for third in the Championship Flight, four shots behind Mark Harding of Redondo Beach, who shot a career-best 62 Saturday.

Harding, a perennial participant in the tournament, now in its 36th year, made nine birdies to emerge as the clear favorite. His best finish at the Costa Mesa City Championship is 12th or 13th, he said, but he said he typically plays better on the longer Los Lagos course (par 72).

Big Canyon Country Club men’s champion Will Tipton, who lost in a playoff to settle for runner-up honors in this tournament a year ago, is tied for second with Tustin resident Karl Katnik, after both shot 65.

Also four shots back of Harding — 48, a former national outdoor racquetball champion (1981, 1982 and 1984) who took up golf after a string of knee surgeries prompted his departure from the racquetball court — are Mike Carpenter, a Newport Beach resident who won the title in 2001, Eric Vallely, a former Newport Harbor High basketball and volleyball standout who lives in Costa Mesa, and former UC Irvine golfer Sean Shahi.

Huntington Beach resident Steve Oppegard and Rancho Santa Margarita resident Jason Bittick also shot 66 Saturday.

Defending champion Chris Hirahatake shot 72.

Sostak, who grew up playing at the Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club, said he sank a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to post one of the best rounds he has ever recorded on the Mesa Linda course.

Sostak said he has not played too many tournaments since leaving Oregon, but he did win the Cal State San Marcos Invitational last winter. It’s his third time in the Championship Flight at the Costa Mesa City Championship.

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