A familiar face, if not a familiar name, leads the field at the Costa Mesa City Championship golf tournament at the midway point.
Jim Jones did not play golf for his high school or college, but he will take a one-stroke lead into the final day of the 47th annual Will Jordan Classic after carding a six-under-par 64 on Saturday on the Mesa Linda Course at Costa Mesa Country Club.
Playing in the tournament for the 20th consecutive year, Jones reckons that time has offered him perspective. He now appreciates the little things in life like a round of golf — and the important things, like his wife and two young daughters.
Jones, 47, now has a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old at home, and he rarely gets a chance to practice his golf game. He found it hard to explain why he played so well on the first day of the tournament.
“I don’t know what the secret is,” Jones said, adding that he plays no more than two or three times per month now. “I guess less is more.”
The putter made the difference for Jones on the shorter Mesa Linda Course. After a bogey on No. 2, Jones finished his round with seven birdies on the last 12 holes.
Although he plays less now, Jones did have the benefit of a good round to fall back on entering the Costa Mesa City Championship. His previous round on the Mesa Linda Course had also been one to remember.
“Five weeks ago, I shot 59 on [Mesa] Linda, so I guess I have a little bit of confidence on that course right now,” Jones said. “The last two rounds I’ve played there, I’m 17-under-par. Right now, I’m playing that course [well], and I hope tomorrow, I could hang out with the bombers.”
The championship flight of the Costa Mesa City Championship will move to the par-72 Los Lagos Course on Sunday. Jones will look to hold off a trio of competitors who came in with five-under-par 65 on their cards — Ryan Knapp, Ryan Indovina and Erick Liscio.
Jones said he has known Knapp and Indovina for close to 15 years. Those three will make up the final grouping.
The penultimate threesome will include Scott Blair (66), Connor O’Brien (66) and Liscio.
Knapp also produced seven birdies on Saturday. The two-time tournament runner-up was playing in a group that included defending champion Ramiz Jamal, who shot a 69.
The connections between the two go further, as both graduated from local high schools. Knapp went to Estancia, and Jamal graduated from Marina. Additionally, both have played for UC Irvine.
Knapp, 28, also played for Orange Coast College, where he was coached by Costa Mesa City Championship tournament director Sean Collins.
“I’m a working guy now, so being out here playing golf is just exciting, to be honest with you,” Knapp said, adding that he now works in real estate. “I don’t get to play a ton of tournaments, so this is one of the few that I’ll play in all year. I really enjoy it. It’s a course that I’ve played at since I was 5, so most of the people that work there are kind of like family.
“I feel like I’ll have a good support system out there tomorrow.”
Indovina wound up with seven birdies and two bogeys for his round, as well.
Liscio, 23, turned in the low-scoring round from the afternoon tee times. The Temecula native played his college golf at Hope International University, and he has kept a busy schedule this summer.
A last-minute entrant into the tournament, Liscio said the first time that he played golf at Costa Mesa Country Club was on Friday. He added that he will be leaving next Friday as he prepares to compete in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina, scheduled for Aug. 12-18.
Staying steady was the formula for success for Liscio on Saturday.
“My game right now, there’s nothing really bad, and there’s nothing really spectacular,” Liscio said. “Everything is just solid. I’d say lately, I’ve been working really hard on the putting.”
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