Golf: Costa Mesa City Championship has quite a history

Richard Dunn

COSTA MESA - Most people knew there was something special about

Mark O'Meara's golf game when he played in the Will Jordan Classic in

1979 at Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club.

O'Meara, then of Mission Viejo and now a star on the PGA Tour, won the

U.S. Amateur championship a week earlier in Cleveland, Ohio, defeating

John Cook in the final, 8 and 7, before arriving in Costa Mesa.

The late Joe Costello, who founded the popular Will Jordan Classic --

now officially the Costa Mesa City Championship -- in 1973 when he was president of the Costa Mesa men's club, considered O'Meara's victory here

in '79 as one of the championship's greatest moments.

"(O'Meara) drove all the way from Cleveland to Costa Mesa to play in

this tournament," Costello once said. "That's how important this

tournament was to O'Meara."

In 1979, O'Meara and Brad Greer squared off in a two-hole playoff,

before O'Meara won, and, shortly thereafter, turned pro. O'Meara won the

Masters and British Open in 1998.

But O'Meara isn't the only former Costa Mesa city champion to achieve

a legacy in golf.

In 1974, the second year of the Will Jordan Classic, then-USC standout

Scott Simpson won at Costa Mesa, defeating, of all people, his father,

Joe, on the 18th hole with a 45-yard wedge shot to within four feet of

the flag.

Simpson, who sank the four-footer to win that year, won the 1987 U.S.

Open.

One of the more recent Costa Mesa city champions, Bryan Saltus

(Newport Harbor High), could be the next one to make it big. The 1995 and

'96 Costa Mesa champion qualified for the Canadian Tour this summer,

finishing tied for fifth out of 140 players in a qualifier at Kamloops,

British Columbia.

Saltus, 30, won the San Francisco Open and a $20,000 first-place check

in early May, after taking third at the Tommy Bahama Newport Beach Open

in April at Newport Beach Country Club.

In the three-round San Francisco Open at Palo Alto Municipal Golf

Club, Saltus shot a blazing 67-68-65--200, tying a course record on the

final day and winning by four shots.

The former Big Canyon Country Club caddie, whose home course is Costa

Mesa Golf & Country Club (Los Lagos Course), is sponsoring himself on the

Canadian Tour.

As for this year's 29th annual Costa Mesa City Championship Aug. 4-5

-- the July 20 entry deadline has been extended two days with the field

limited to the first 320 players -- Scott Osterhout of Huntington Beach

will try to defend his title.

Osterhout won the Costa Mesa City Championship last year, beating Eric

Wang of Cypress in a three-hole playoff, after they both shot 142 in two

rounds (one round each at the Los Lagos and Mesa Linda courses).

The event, which has been played every year by its inaugural winner of

1973, Jim George (Estancia High), features $10,000 in prizes and five

flights, including a senior division. The lowest handicap index for the

past year will be used and a $175 entry fee is charged, which includes

greens fees for both days, tee prizes, awards and a barbecue both days.

For more information on this year's championship, visit the pro shop

or call (714) 540-7500, ext. 3 or 108.

In the 29th annual Santa Ana Country Club Junior Golf Invitational,

Michael Tran of Rancho Santa Margarita won the overall championship

Monday with a 2-under-par 70, while SACC member Steve Harwood won the

16-17 age group, shooting 74 and winning in a three-way playoff on the

first extra hole.

C.J. Vuytowecz of Pauma Valley won the 14-15 age group with an

even-par 72, while Rory Hie captured the 12-13 age group with a 74 from

the back tees.

Daniel Kush (Newport Harbor), John Hoppe (SACC), David Kendall (SACC),

Garrett Whitfield (Newport Harbor), Brad Chamberlin (Corona del Mar

High), Piper Miller (SACC), Robert Chase (Big Canyon Country Club), Scott

Travers (SACC) and Tim Frohling (Newport Beach Country Club) also played

in the prestigious junior event.

Officials of the Hyundai Team Matches, played at Pelican Hill Golf

Club in Newport Coast the past two years, have found a new home for the

December silly-season made-for-television event: The Monarch Beach Golf

Links in Dana Point.

The Irvine Co., which owns Pelican Hill, declined an offer to host the

tournament again this year, forcing officials to search for another

location.

"We are thrilled about the new partnership with the new St. Regis

Monarch Resort & Spa (adjacent to Monarch Beach)," said Terry Jastrow,

president of Gaylord Event Television, which produces the event.

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