COSTA MESA — Mesa Verde Country Club players maintained an even keel as their play was concerned in the 11th annual Jones Cup Tuesday.
And on the finishing 18th hole, even was plenty good enough.
Mesa Verde head golf professional Tom Sargent and assistant pro Mike Fergin both parred the par-three 18th to seal the hosts' eight-under 134 performance, which was enough for a two-stroke victory and a repeat Jones Cup championship.
Mesa Verde has four Jones Cup championships, including three in the last five years.
“Great team effort,” said Mesa Verde senior club champion Steve Rhorer, who contributed one of eight birdies in a bogey-free round.
Mesa Verde, which included men's champion Ryan Gale and women's champion Madelaine Campbell, steadily climbed into contention with a five-under back nine highlighted by Sargent's chip-in for birdie from behind the 14th green. The victory was sealed when Big Canyon Country Club made two bogeys on the final hole to finish six-under in the two-best ball per fivesome format. Newport Beach Country Club finished two-under and Santa Ana Country Club shot one-over.
The Jones Cup turned into a two-team race with Mesa Verde and Big Canyon through the back nine.
Mesa Verde, playing one group ahead of Big Canyon, came to the 18th tee at eight-under. The hole has water right and not too much bail-out room left. On the tee, Sargent said the hole was playing 220 yards and, “you don't want to be left.” His shot landed on the fringe and he two-putted from 16 feet. Fergin hooked his tee shot, but received a favorable bounce away from an out-of-bounds area and into the rough.
“I know that pin and the chip shot. I trusted it,” said Fergin, playing in his first Jones Cup. Then came the 10-to-12 foot par putt up the hill staring Fergin in the eyes.
“[Sargent] said, 'It's OK to have a 10-footer back up the hill,' “ Fergin said. “[Sargent] said, 'Put a good pace on it.' I made a good stroke and it went right where I had the line.”
As for home-course advantage, Sargent said it's a distinct advantage if you're playing well, and for hole knowledge as on 18.
“We talked as a team about being right of the [18th] hole,” Fergin said.
If the 18th hole provided drama, the prior 17 holes yielded methodical golf.
Campbell birdied two holes on the front nine. She conistently put the ball in the fairway.
“[Campbell] was the reason we were in it,” Sargent, nearing 15 years as Mesa Verde's head pro, said.
“I like competition,” Campbell said. “I had a lot of faith in these guys. They are all really good players. It's a fun group to play with.”
Did she scoreboard watch?
“I try not to, but it's hard not to,” Campbell said.
Big Canyon was five-under through four holes while Mesa Verde stayed at one-under — Fergin birdied the par-five first hole — until Campbell carded her first birdie on the par-four sixth. Two holes later Campbell made a 12-foot birdie putt to put Mesa Verde at three-under.
Big Canyon held a two-shot lead — after finishing 10 — on Newport Beach and Mesa Verde.
Rhorer birdied 11 and kept the hosts from falling with a six-foot par putt on the 12th.
The gallery grew and Sargent and Gale each made consecutive birdies — they both made three on the par-four 15th.
Gale put Mesa Verde at eight-under with a birdie on the par-three 16th to set the stage for 18.
Spectators looked down from the clubhouse patio onto the 18th hole, where it was even sweeter.