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Bittick back on top

For second time in three years Irvine resident wins championship flight in Costa Mesa City Championship.

August 08, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com

Jason Bittick of Irvine said he entered in only one city amateur golf event this year. He sure made his one entry count.

The 43-year-old won the 39th annual Will Jordan Classic, a.k.a. the Costa Mesa City Championship, for the second time in three years Sunday at Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club.

He shot seven-under-par 135 and won the championship flight by two strokes against runner-up Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach.

Bittick, the 2009 Costa Mesa City champion, finished tied for ninth last year.

He said he enjoys playing in the event because of "guys like Sean Collins and John Ortega, who doing good job of running it."

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Bittick also likes the Costa Mesa City because he's fascinated with the young golfers who compete. He likes to watch them get after it.

"They have so much hunger and they practice so hard," Bittick said of the young golfers, many of whom are in college like Hagestad, who plays for USC. "They want to go out there and just kill everybody. I'm not sure if I go out to win as much as just to people watch. It's fun. It's exciting."

The last time Bittick won the Costa Mesa City he was coaching at Santa Margarita High. He took the year off. He's maintained working as an insurance agent and training junior golfers.

He hopes to get back into coaching high school teams again. The coach in him remains. That could be seen in his victory Sunday.

"There are two ways to look at it," Bittick said. "It's awesome to just go out there and beat [young amateurs]. And it's also awesome to beat them that maybe they have to take a look at themselves. After a guy beating them who doesn't practice or play as much, they might need to work a little bit harder. There's nothing like pain to make you look at what you do."

Bittick entered Sunday's final round in second, one shot behind the leader, Hagestad.

Hagestad, who qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Big Canyon Country Club last month, shot eight-under 62 at Mesa Linda to take the lead on Saturday.

Bittick and Hagestad played in the same group on Los Lagos Sunday. Issei Suenaga (65-80-145) was also in that group. He played under Bittick at Santa Margarita.

Suenaga had to watch and learn once again. Bittick showed him how to deal with tough pin placements and how to come from behind to win.

Through 10 holes, Bittick was behind Hagestad by two strokes. But Bittick birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to grab the lead, while Hagestad parred twice and bogeyed. Bittick also birdied No. 18 to win by two.

Hagestad shot three-over 75 on Los Lagos and finished at five-under 137.

Alex Marry (68-70) was third at 138.

Costa Mesa resident Ryan Knapp (69-72), who will be a redshirt sophomore at UC Irvine, was tied for fourth with Ryan Tetrault (71-70), one shot behind Marry.

Jeff Coburn, last year's champ and a former UCI standout, was sixth, 70-72—142.

They all had to deal with the difficult pin placements.

"When you go play at the Costa Mesa City, they put the pins in monster positions," Bittick said. "They are the craziest things you can imagine. But I've had success here. I've had experience translate to wisdom … There's a great thought process that goes on out there. It's almost like you're playing chess. It's definitely not a physical game when you're playing in the Costa Mesa City. It's more of a mental game."

Steve Oppegard (69-66—135) won the senior flight.

Dave Holloway (68-73—141) won the first flight.

Brian Varner (68-64—132) took first in the second flight.

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