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Eaks Clinches Tournament Title With Eagle

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A crowd of better than 150 gathered around the 18th green at Newport Beach County Club late Saturday afternoon to see if R.W. Eaks would continue to fall back to the field.

But instead they watched Eaks chip in from about 70 feet for an eagle and a three-shot victory in the Taco Bell Newport Beach Classic golf tournament.

It was the second consecutive day that Eaks made an eagle on the 510-yard par five and the second consecutive year he has won the tournament. The eagle gave him a final-round 68 to go with his opening 65.

His two-round total of 133 was three shots better than Perry Parker, Charlie Wi and Brian Mogg. Eaks, who plans to play in the Nike Tour this year, won $16,000. After his victory here last year, Eaks missed much of the season with a rib-cage injury he suffered while taking a swing in a tournament in May.

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“I feel very comfortable on these greens,” he said. “They are just like the ones I grew up playing on in Colorado Springs.”

Eaks, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., opened with three consecutive birdies Saturday to reach nine-under par.

He was still at nine under when he made a seven-foot putt for par on the par-four 14th and he continued to struggle until the 18th.

Eaks hooked a drive into a tree on the par-five 15th and eventually made a six to fall to eight under. Things got worse on the par-four 16th, when he again hit a palm tree on the left side of the fairway. Not sure if the ball was in play, Eaks hit a provisional ball down the middle.

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Eaks got a major break when he found his ball in bounds by about 10 feet, but it was behind a tree. He was 165 yards away and hit his second shot into the sand trap that protects the right front of the green.

But he was able to get up and down for par after making a four-foot putt.

“That hole was the turning point in the tournament,” Eaks said.

At the 17th, Eaks pulled his tee shot left of the green at the 185-yard par three and made bogey to fall to seven under. But on the 18th, he hit his drive just into the right rough, then hit a three-wood short of the green. He had reached the green with a five wood the day before.

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“I was leaking oil coming down the stretch,” he said, “but somehow I got it done.”


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