Santa Ana can't blame inexperience like it could last year, when three players made their Jones Cup debuts. Two of them — assistant pro Nick Kumpis and senior champion Bob Veeh — will be back this year.
"I'm excited," Kumpis said. "I think I've got a little better feel for the format and what it will take to possibly win. I've got a better overall feel of how the day's going to be."
Santa Ana has had its contingent set since April, when John Gilchrist won the club men's championship for the third time to again qualify for the Jones Cup. Women's champion Liz Slater, like Gilchrist, did not play in the Jones Cup last year. But both have multiple years of experience in the tournament, which is played with a two best-ball format.
Cochrane said Gilchrist, who in May captured the Cravens Invitational at San Gabriel Country Club with Santa Ana member Greg West, does well in the team format.
Mike Reehl, who has retired as Santa Ana's head professional, will be the official starter for this year's Jones Cup. Reehl captained Santa Ana's team from 2000 through 2009.
Reehl might not be playing, but he'd love to see Santa Ana come out on top for once. Bragging rights come with winning the tournament, which is now in its 12th year. That's something that Santa Ana and Cochrane, who has played in every Jones Cup since 2003, have never gotten to experience.
Santa Ana was close during that playoff in 2008. Then there was 2006, when Santa Ana was edged by a stroke. The last two years have been ones to forget, as Santa Ana finished fourth each time.
Cochrane said Big Canyon is a challenging course.
"The greens roll good, but they're hard to read," he said. "That will certainly be a challenge, trying to make those birdies that we need to make."
The last time the tournament was played at Big Canyon, in 2007, Santa Ana again finished last as the hosts won the title.
"I think we certainly have
the players to do it," Cochrane said. "It's just a matter of
getting a little bit of mo-
mentum going early."
Fletcher Jones Motorcars is offering one of two new Mercedes to the first Jones Cup player to get a hole in one on No. 7 or No. 12 during tournament play.