For as many years as the Southern California section of the Professional Golfers' Assn. has been in existence, its champion has been decided by match play.
From 1941 to 1970, the section's tournament was held at Recreation Park, where head professional George Lake was the host. Among the memorable final matches were those in 1949, when Zell Eaton defeated Paul Runyan, 4 and 3; in 1957, when Eric Monti, a five-time winner, beat Jim Ferrier, 2 and l, and in 1962, when Emil Scodeller edged Jerry Barber, 1 up. In each instance, the loser had been the national PGA champion.
Since 1971, the tournament has moved around, but has maintained its match-play format.
This year, after a vote of the membership reflected an overwhelming desire for change, the sectional champion will be decided in a stroke-play tournament. This makes sense, as the sectional champion gets an exemption into the Los Angeles Open, the Hope Classic and the PGA Tour event in San Diego--all stroke-play tournaments.
Scott Bentley, professional at Singing Hills CC in El Cajon, is the defending champion, having defeated Gary Wishon of Long Beach's Virginia CC, 5 and 4, in the final. Bentley, who played at San Diego State before turning professional, represented the section well last year, shooting a 66 in the Hope--only to miss the 54-hole cut by one stroke--and making the cut in both Los Angeles and San Diego.
The sectional championship will be played Aug. 20-21 at Rancho California, with 36 holes on the first day.
There still will be a match-play championship event, however. The LaMode/SCPGA tournament will be held July 9-12 at Coto de Caza Golf Club in Orange County. An 18-hole qualifying round on July 9 will determine the 63 players who will join defending champion Bentley in the first round of match play the next day.
The winner will be a survivor as much as a shotmaker. If all matches go the full 18 holes, he will have played 126 holes before becoming champion late on July 12. There will be double rounds on three consecutive days.
Among the prominent challengers to Bentley are former champions Dave Barber of Bakersfield and Paul Wise of Hillcrest, plus Arne Dokka, Jerry Wisz, Chuck Courtney, Mike Gove and Mike Reasor.
No one can win both the Los Angeles and Long Beach city amateur championships this year because, as a result of unfortunate scheduling, they start on the same weekend.
The 72-hole Los Angeles tournament will be played over two weeks on three courses. The first round will be next Saturday at Griffith Park's Harding course, followed by the second round next Sunday at Wilson, the longer Griffith Park course. The final 36 holes will be played July 14-15 at Rancho.
David Berganio of Sylmar, last year's winner, is not expected to compete because he qualified for the U.S. Public Links Championship, which is scheduled July 16-21 in Portland. Berganio, 20, shot a 71-69--140 to lead regional qualifiers at Mountain Meadows.
Mike Turner, a left-hander from Sepulveda who won the city championship in 1987, will be looking for another title. Other leading entries include Bruce Sanaklis of Imperial, who lost in a playoff in 1988 to Gary Gallogly of Via Verde; Ed Fernandez and Greg Larson of Sepulveda; Rick Myers of Los Angeles CC; Jamie Forsythe of Valencia, and Ted Lyford of Redlands.
The Long Beach tournament will be 54 holes over three courses next Saturday through Monday. After rounds at Recreation Park and Skylinks, a 36-hole cut will determine the field for the final 18 holes at the El Dorado Golf Club course.
In Long Beach, the 10 low scorers will receive amateur exemptions into the $110,000 Long Beach Open July 26-29 at Recreation Park and El Dorado Park. Also, the low three from a special seniors' flight for players 45 and older will get an exemption into the Long Beach Open.
Kevin McLaughlin of Mission Viejo is the defending Long Beach champion. Among his challengers will be Steve Lass of Altadena and Glendora CC, the runner-up in the 1987 Southern California Amateur; Austin Maki of Costa Mesa, the state high school champion from Estancia High; Jeff Burroughs, the former major league outfielder who has a five handicap, and Jeff Manson of the University of Arizona, eighth-place finisher in the NCAA last month who plans to turn professional after the Long Beach tournament.
Bob Gross, six-time club champion at San Gabriel CC, is favored in the new senior division.
Southpaw Phil Mickelson of San Diego and Arizona State heads the 1990 College All-American team after winning his second consecutive NCAA championship and leading the Sun Devils to the team championship. Others selected: Chris DiMarco and Dudley Hart, Florida; David Duval, Georgia Tech; Craig Hainline and Kevin Whitworth, Oklahoma State; Scott Medlin, Miami, and Chris Patton, Clemson. . . . The women's first team included Brandie Burton and Amy Fruhwirth of Arizona State and Tracy Nakamura of USC. Cathy Mockett of Newport Beach and Tulsa, winner of the U. S. Women's Public Links title last week, was a second-team selection, along with Dana Arnold of USC and Jean Zedlitz of UCLA.
Hale Irwin's consecutive victories in the U.S. Open and Westchester Open moved him up to 20th in the world rankings. Greg Norman continues to be No. 1, followed by Nick Faldo, J.M. Olazabal, Payne Stewart, Seve Ballesteros, Paul Azinger, Curtis Strange, Ian Woosman and Tom Kite. . . . Riviera CC members will establish a scholarship in the memory of Oneil Hadnott, a former club champion who died March 15. A fund-raising tournament will be held July 11. Eddie Koblitz, who shot an 88 for a net 65, won the Riviera seniors championship, a title Hadnott once held. It was Koblitz's first tournament victory since 1967, when he was at Lake Arrowhead CC. Another Riviera senior, Walter Keller, is 81 and plays to a six handicap.
John Wilson of Palm Desert, fresh from consecutive victories in the Mission Hills and Greater Palm Springs Opens, will set his sights on the Las Vegas Open, starting Wednesday at the Legacy course in Henderson, Nev., and the Soboba Springs Shootout July 12-13 at Soboba Springs CC in Hemet. Wilson, with $25,333 in earnings, is the leading money-winner of the Spalding Golden State Players Tour. The tour will also be at Shadowridge CC in Vista Monday. . . . Entertainment and sports celebrities will participate in the third annual Defeat Diabetes Invitational on July 16 at Riviera CC, with proceeds going to the American Diabetes Assn. Tickets are $350 or $1,400 for a foursome.
For the women: The 19th SoCal Women's Masters will be played on July 9 at Industry Hills, July 10 at California CC and July 11 at Sierra La Verne. The defending champion is Julie Lynd, a former professional from Lake Arrowhead. Other favorites include Linda Pearson of La Canada, Sue Ewart of Old Ranch, Millie Stanley of Wilshire, Jodie Kulp of Candlewood and Marie Kuhn of Sepulveda. . . . Players West pros will play a 54-hole tournament July 9-11 at Canyon Crest CC in Riverside. . . . Sectional qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open will be held Monday at Hillcrest CC. The Open is July 12-15 at the Atlanta Athletic Club course. . . . The California Junior Girls' Championships will be played July 9-13 at Monterey Peninsula CC in Pebble Beach. . . . After winning 32 consecutive El Caballero CC club championships, Helen Knight finished in a tie for second place with Lee Cone this year, as Daryl Gerber was the winner.