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Golf: Tough pins keep them coming back, Lane says

August 02, 2012|By Bryce Alderton

The Costa Mesa City Championship keeps plugging along, with a resume built on tough pins and firm, fast greens.

Organizers wouldn't have it any other way.

The city's premier tournament settles in for its traditional first August weekend slot at Costa Mesa Country Club with an expected field of 300 players dispersed among championship, senior, first and second flights, the latter determined by handicap.

The fun starts at 6 a.m. Saturday for the two-day tournament entering its 40th year. The tournament, also known as the Will Jordan Classic, expects to have 150 players in the championship flight, Costa Mesa head professional Brad Booth said. Players in the flight will compete on the Mesa Linda course Saturday and the Los Lagos course Sunday.

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Danny Lane works for Mesa Verde Partners, which has managed Costa Mesa Country Club since 1992, and has watched the tournament grow.

"We put a lot of effort into course conditions, trying to target fast and firm greens," Lane said. "We make it as tough as we can. It's fun to see it played that way. We've built the reputation, so a lot of people want to play it."

The tournament has grown to include several college-level players along with working guys who find time to hone their golf games.

Jason Bittick won two of the last three tournaments (2009, 2011), but will not be in this year's field. Bittick is in Florida, where he works for the Golf Channel, Costa Mesa teaching pro John Ortega said.

Booth credits tournament director Sean Collins with recruiting guys to play in the event. Collins coaches Orange Coast College's men's golf team.

"He's brought more good players to this tournament," Booth said of Collins. "Sean really interacts with them and John Ortega too. They pump it up."

The championship field includes UC Irvine's Ryan Knapp, who placed second in this event in 2009, and younger brother Jake, an incoming UCLA freshman. They will tee off at 6:40 a.m. Saturday with former Newport Harbor High standout Travis Russell.

Former Corona del Mar star Mike Moorhead will begin at 7:20 a.m. followed by the 7:30 a.m. group of Lane and fellow Big Canyon Country Club members Will Tipton and 2001 Costa Mesa champion Mike Carpenter.

2005 winner Doug Martinez and Amit Chopra, cousin of tour player Daniel Chopra, are also in the field. Martinez (8 a.m. tee time) and Chopra (7:10 a.m.) squared off in a playoff in the 2005 event, which Martinez won with a birdie on the second extra hole.

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