Newport Pro/Am Golf Tournament : McComish Putts It Away on Extra Hole

Times Staff Writer

Next year, golfers at the Newport Pro/Am Golf Tournament will probably be praying for rain. Bad weather seems to be the only thing that can keep John McComish from winning the tournament.

McComish, of Santa Maria, won the tournament in 1985 but missed it in 1986 when rain snarled traffic on Highway 101, forcing him to head home and miss the tournament.

Sunday, before about 1,000 spectators on a beautiful spring-like day at Newport Beach Country Club, McComish won the tournament again--but only after he missed a short putt on the 18th hole that would have earned him the championship in regulation. McComish sank a six-foot putt to birdie the first extra hole and defeat Gary McCord and Billy Tuten, who had tied him at two-under-par 138.

"I really feel fortunate," McComish said. "I thought I had to hit four- or five-under to win.

"I didn't make many (putts) for two days, but (the playoff) was a good time to make one. . . . I know I won, but I really struggled with the putter."

McComish, who earned $4,500, said he thought he had lost the tournament when he bogeyed the 18th hole. But he wasn't the only golfer having trouble on the greens. McCord, of Escondido, also missed a short putt on the 18th that would have given him the title.

"Every green was different," McCord said. "It's like a family with 18 kids. One green was fast and hard; another was slow and soft. . . . But that's part of the game."

Tuten, of Palatka, Fla., shot a tournament-best 67 Sunday, but his chip shot in the playoff rolled 20 feet past the green and he two-putted for bogey. Tuten said he was pleased just to be in the money.

"I don't feel like I lost it," he said. Tuten and McCord earned $2,750 each in the $40,000 tournament.

David Hobby of Santa Ana, who was tied for the lead with McCord at 68 Saturday, shot 73 Sunday to finish in a tie for eighth place.

Bryan Tennyson, of Evansville, Ind., and David Streiff, an amateur from Newport Beach Country Club, won the pro/am best ball championship, combining to shoot 13-under-par. Tennyson earned $700.

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