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Santa Ana drops to last again

Jones Cup XII

Team is competitive, but the tough final hole causes Santa Ana to wind up with its third straight last-place finish.

June 29, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Geoff Cochrane's golf ball was easy to identify Tuesday at the 12th annual Jones Cup.

Cochrane, the Santa Ana Country Club head professional, played with a neon yellow ball made by Trixon. It may look like a ball someone would use while playing miniature golf, but Cochrane is a convert.

"It's something unique," he said. "I feel like I see it really good, putting in particular, as strange as that sounds. I'm not sure if I'll ever go back to white, as long as they keep making it."

The goal in recent years has been to make Santa Ana stand out too, considering it is the only one of the four local private clubs never to have won the annual tournament.

That remains true, as Santa Ana finished last Tuesday at Big Canyon Country Club after carding a team round of two-over par in the two best-ball format. The hosts won the tournament for a record seventh time.

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Cochrane, playing in his ninth straight Jones Cup, said he relishes the opportunity to play with Santa Ana Country Club members in the team format. But failing to win year after year – this is the third straight year Santa Ana has finished in last place – can leave a bitter aftertaste.

"I still enjoy [the tournament] every time," Cochrane said. "But yeah, it would absolutely mean a lot to me [to win]. And yes, it's wearing on me that we haven't."

Santa Ana was in second place until the final hole, which was No. 9 since the teams played the back nine first. But on that last hole, two Santa Ana players hit their ball out of bounds. The other three found the water to the front and right of the hole.

Men's club champion John Gilchrist did his teammates one better. He found the wet stuff a second time after watching his shot careen off the flag and bounce to the right, into the water.

"We were celebrating," Gilchrist said. "We thought it was a foot away from the hole. And then it was in the water."

No Santa Ana player – also including assistant pro Nick Kumpis, senior champion Bob Veeh and women's champion Liz Slater – got better than a double-bogey on the par-four No. 9. Santa Ana dropped to last place again.

"If we made a par and a bogey, we would have finished second, and we ended up making two [double-bogeys]," Gilchrist said. "That's the way it goes. There's bigger problems in the world."

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