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Mesa Verde's lead vanishes

Jones Cup

Costa Mesa-based club does not record one bogey, but its 12 birdies still not enough.

June 27, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
(Scott Smeltzer…)

NEWPORT BEACH — The dramatic finish of the 13th annual Jones Cup gave new meaning to the term up and down Wednesday at Newport Beach Country Club.

The five-player team from Mesa Verde Country Club led most of the day, had a four-stroke advantage after 11 holes, and was up by three shots when it posted one birdie on the 18th hole, after which Mesa Verde head professional Tom Sargent drove his golf cart to his car to put his clubs in the trunk.

"I was thinking about a Corona," Sargent said of the expected victory celebration that never came.

Instead, Big Canyon Country Club, the big bully on the local block when it comes to golf, produced an eagle and a birdie on its final regulation hole to erase the three-shot deficit and force a playoff. Big Canyon then edged Mesa Verde in a simultaneous two-team re-do on No. 18 to pocket its eighth Jones Cup crown.

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Mesa Verde, which had won four Jones Cup titles coming in, could have closed the gap on its Newport Beach-based rivals. But the setback wasn't for lack of strong performances from all five Mesa Verde representatives.

Sargent, the only player to play in all 13 Jones Cup events, contributed four birdies to the combined 12-under-par team total in the two-best-ball format.

Assistant pro Mike Fergin also pitched in four birdies, while men's champion Ed Susolik produced three. Women's champion Sally Holstein had one birdie, on what her teammates considered the shot of the day, while senior champion Preston Murray was consistently in the birdie hunt.

"We did play really well," Sargent said of his team, which did not give away a shot to par all day. "But you know what, the best-laid plans ... You've got to give Big Canyon credit. To make birdie-eagle on the last hole [of regulation] to tie is pretty spectacular. Then to step up in the playoff and do it again ..."

Sargent said his team stepped up early and often.

Fergin produced birdies on No. 3 and No. 4, on which Susolik (No. 3) and Sargent (No. 4) joined him to put the team four-under through four holes. Susolik, who interrupted his round a few times to perform stretching exercises to counter an ailing back, sank a 15-foot putt from the fringe for a birdie on No. 6 to start a run of three-straight birdies for Mesa Verde.

Sargent drained a 22-footer from the fringe for birdie on No. 7, then knocked his tee shot on the 207-yard No. 8 hole within two feet to create consecutive birdies that put his team at seven-under.

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