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Golf / Rich Tosches : Open Fever Took Its Toll on Enthusiastic Ladin

Paul Ladin of Thousand Oaks continues a slow but steady recovery from a Seniors U. S. Openectomy that he underwent two weeks ago in Pennsylvania. Actually, Ladin did not have the prestigious golf tournament removed from him. Rather, he was removed from it.

“The comedown is hard,” said Ladin, 57, who shot rounds of 82 and 80 and missed the cut in Ligonier, Pa. “It’s hard to concentrate on golf these days. After playing in the Open, every time I stand over a ball at North Ranch I think to myself, ‘This doesn’t mean anything.’ But I’m starting to snap out of that. I’m starting to put the game back in perspective.”

The funny thing--well, not funny to Ladin--about his early exit from the biggest tournament of his life is that he said he felt more confident and enthused going into it than he had for any other tournament in his life.

“Everything was to my liking,” he said. “The golf course was unbelievable . . . just perfect. The weather was perfect. I played two super practice rounds on the course, a 74 and a 75, and I had never been so excited about golf.”

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But that excitement, Ladin now believes, was his downfall.

“Looking back, I now realize that I overdid myself,” he said. “I got there four days in advance of the tournament and played the course every second that I could. I got myself so excited that when the flag went up on Thursday, I had worn myself out.

“The day before it started, I played 18 holes hitting three golf balls all the way around. My caddy told me I overdid it, that I should have rested that day. I didn’t believe him. All I could think was it was such a perfect place and it was the biggest tournament of my life and I was going to play as much as I possibly could. But after the two rounds during the tournament, I knew that my caddy was right.”

The highlight, Ladin said, was not playing the first round in the group behind Arnold Palmer nor was it playing the second round in the group ahead of Palmer. It was, he said, the moment when he saw his name on the scoreboard-on-a-stick that is carried by an official accompanying each group.

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“I was 1-under-par after three holes on the first day and seeing that Ladin -1 on the board was a big thrill,” he said. “And, I had a 15-foot putt for birdie on the fourth hole. I visualized myself at 2-under even before I stood over the ball.”

However, golf being what is--a game designed to promote swearing--Ladin’s dream began smoking right about at that point.

“I three-putted,” he said. “From 15 feet! I couldn’t believe it.”

There will, though, be brighter days on a golf course for Ladin. He will play in the Southern California Seniors Amateur Championship in Ojai this winter, a tournament in which he finished third last year. And next month he will try to qualify at Horse Thief Country Club in Tehachapi for the U. S. Seniors Amateur Championship, which will be played in Houston later in August. And Ladin vows to remain much more than a casual golfer.

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“At North Ranch I have a home on Golf Course Drive and at PGA West in Rancho Mirage I have a home on Inverness Drive,” Ladin said. “Neither was a coincidence. I wanted those addresses. I am a golf freak.”

Stay of execution: Another likely early exit, this one by Tony Chieffo of Granada Hills in the U. S. Public Links Championships, was stayed by pounding rain Tuesday at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill.

Chieffo opened the tournament Monday with a round of 81 and trailed leader Howard Logan of Shelbyville, Ky., by 10 strokes. Play was washed out Tuesday.

Carrying the standard: Qualifying for the Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur Championship was held Monday with several area golfers gaining berths.

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Leading the way at Sunset Hills Country Club were Dave Fernandez of Woodland Hills and Jimmy Chang of Westlake, who shot rounds of 71. They tied for third place at that site, six strokes behind qualifying leader Bill Brooks, who played on his home course.

Other qualifiers were Wayne Merich of Valencia, who shot a 72 at Spring Valley Lake; Ed Watts of Camarillo, who shot a 72 at Sunset Hills; David Solomon of Tarzana, who shot a 73 at Woodland Hills Country Club, and Mark Anten of Tarzana, who shot a 74 at Woodland Hills.


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