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Conway Has Good Week at Higher Level

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Steve Conway is still riding the high of his extraordinary week on the Monterey Peninsula.

The 17-year-old Dove Canyon resident shot 73 at Spyglass Hill and followed with a 69 at Pebble Beach to tie Ed Cuff Jr. of Temecula for medalist honors last week in the California Amateur Championship.

He wasn’t done. The youngest player to qualify for the 32-man match-play field won his first two matches before losing to Dong Yi of Alameda in the quarterfinals.

But it was the 69 at Pebble Beach that sticks with Conway.

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“Considering the conditions and the course, that has to be my best round ever,” said Conway, an accomplished junior player who will be a senior at Santa Margarita High in the fall. “That was one of the toughest courses I have ever played, but I was able to focus real well. Everything was going pretty good.”

Conway had to skip the AJGA Mission Hills tournament to play the California Amateur, giving up the opportunity to earn valuable national ranking points that are used by college coaches in recruiting. No points are awarded for the California Amateur, but Conway went with his heart.

“I really wanted to play Pebble Beach,” he said. “I got to play a practice round with my dad on Father’s Day.”

He will have plenty of opportunities to earn ranking points. Conway is playing in the AJGA Tournament of Champions, one of four junior majors, and three other AJGA events this summer.

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But Conway said he would play the California Amateur again next year if he qualifies, preferring a field with more of the over-20 crowd.

“I felt real comfortable there,” he said. “Playing with adults and college players who understand the rules and the etiquette makes it a lot easier to focus. I’d like to do that again.”

HOLY STORY

There is a hole in one of these stories.

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First, Kevin Olson of Newport Beach reported that he had made two eagles, a birdie and a hole-in-one on his final four holes to overcome a five-stroke deficit and win medalist honors June 22 at Green River’s Orange Course in a local qualifier for the Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic (Big I).

All this was reported in the Daily Pilot.

Tournament director Gary Remland, however, said the scorecard turned in and signed by Olson showed a three on the par-3 final hole.

“There was no hole in one,” Remland said.

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Reached later at his home and told of the discrepancy, Olson, 17, was adamant about his claim.

“I had a . . . hole in one,” he said. “I don’t care if you believe me or not. I saw it go in the hole.”

He said he had witnesses but couldn’t make out the signature on the card. He said he did not report the ace to the course, which is common golf protocol, because he was in a hurry to get home for dinner. He went on to describe the shot in detail.

“I hit a pitching wedge,” he said. “It bounced twice and spun back into the hole.”

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Moments after that call ended, another call came.

“This is Kevin Olson,” said the voice, strikingly similar to the first voice. “A friend of mine said he talked to you about me.”

This Kevin Olson said the hole in one never happened.

“I finished with four straight threes,” he said.

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An impressive feat by itself, and one that begs the question: Why make up the hole in one?

“I have no clue,” Olson said.

The second Olson did not identify the friend who had twice answered the phone at Olson’s home and provided the false information, only confirming what the official tournament results showed.

“I shot 71,” he said.

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Standing on the 15th tee at four-over par for the tournament, Olson reached the 561-yard par-5 15th in two and made a four-foot eagle putt.

He made a 20-foot birdie putt on the tough 440-yard par-4 16th, then hit his second shot to within eight feet on the 500-yard par-5 17th and made the putt for eagle to go one-under par for the tournament.

“I was in shock when I did it,” the second Olson said. “I’ve had a couple of eagles before, but I’ve never gone five under in four holes.”

Olson next plays in the state finals July 15-16 at De Laveaga Golf Course in Santa Cruz. The top six there advance to the national finals Aug. 17-20 at Northgate Country Club in Houston.

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PUTT FOR DOUGH

Think you can putt under pressure? Try the American Putting Tour’s tournaments, which will be held at Green River Golf Club and The Greens in Irvine this summer.

Each tournament is 23 holes of stroke play--all putting. Putts range in distance from eight to 35 feet and each hole is a par two.

With purses of $20,000, the tournaments have attracted quite a bit of interest in Las Vegas, where the tour began.

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First place is worth $3,500 and places through 60th are paid. Amateurs who win $500 or more and wish to retain their amateur status are paid a $500 gift certificate.

The Green River tournaments are July 24 and Aug. 21. The Greens at Irvine tournament is Aug. 14. Entry fee is $120 for professionals and $60 for amateurs not competing for cash.

The fields are limited to 200 players. Information: (714) 374-6868.


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