Takada stars for NBCC

On a day when highlights were somewhat scarce for the Newport Beach Country Club's entry in the 15th annual Jones Cup community golf tournament, men's club champion Ted Embry responded to a roar from the gallery on neighboring green with a plea for a similar vocal outburst from the players and supporters on the 18th fairway as NBCC players waited to hit into the final green.

"I think we should have a little cheer, just for the heck of it," implored Embry, who then initiated the baseless vocal rallying cry with which most of the members of the gallerym and players, joined in.

That was, however, not the only lip service the NBCC team experienced on Wednesday at Shady Canyon Country Club, as the number of putts that kissed off the lip of the cup climbed into double-digits. The myriad misses by a mere millimeter helped lead to a fourth-place showing in the five-team event.

"There were a lot," NBCC captain and head club professional Tony Letendre said about the multiple near-misses that pushed the team score to minus-six in the two-best-ball format.

NBCC did manage at least one birdie on eight holes, as well as an eagle on the par-five seventh hole by women's club champion Isako Takada.

Takada, who sank a six-foot put to collect her first eagle on the Shady Canyon course, where she is also a member and for which she competed in last year's Jones Cup, was the top performer for her NBCC on Wednesday.

In addition to the eagle, Takada added birdies on Nos. five, 14 and 15, more than double the sub-par holes of all but one of her teammates (Harry Esayian, the runner-up to the senior club champion who could not compete, had three birdies).

"It was my third appearance in the Jones Cup and this is the first year that I really enjoyed it and I didn't feel so much pressure," Takada said. "There is normally so much pressure with the guys. I want to contribute but it's so hard to contribute to the team. This year, I think I contributed. My goal was two birdies; to contribute to the guys on two holes. But I did more than that, so I was very happy."

Esayian drained a 25-foot, downhill putt from the fringe for a birdie on No. 3, for one of the best NBCC shots of the day.

Letendre, who was victimized by more than his share of the aforementioned lip-kissing putts, knocked down a 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 11 to mark another team highlight.

Easily the team's best hole of the day was No. 5, on which Takada and club pro Carlo Borunda posted birdies to make the team minus-two for the hole. Embry and Esayain also followed with bonus birdies on the same hole, though they did not register in the team score, due to the two-best-ball limit.

Embry and Borunda also helped NBCC finish strongly with birdies on No. 18, prompting performance-based cheers from the spirited NBCC gallery that helped keep the players loose throughout the six-plus-hour round.

"I think it did help," Takada said of the positive vibrations flowing over the players from those rooting them on. "It was fun."

Letendre, who along with Takada and Borunda was playing in his third Jones Cup, said the players' camaraderie was bolstered by having gotten together as a team before the event.

"I had never played a round with Takada and none of the other guys had either," Letendre said. "So, I made sure that we played a practice round together to help build that camaraderie. I think that helped us."


Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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