If there’s one thing that Shady Canyon Golf Club has proven in the Jones Cup golf tournament, it’s that it knows how to defend its home turf.
Shady Canyon won the tournament when it hosted in 2014, and it hosted for the second time on Wednesday. Shady Canyon came up with its second victory in the 20th annual event, clinching it when men’s club champion Scott Barton chipped from the front of the green at No. 18 and made a short birdie putt.
“The chip came off about perfect,” Barton said. “I was below the green. I didn’t know how far it was going to roll out, because the greens are quick. It just worked. It came off exactly like I wanted.”
Shady Canyon – which also featured team captain Brian Gunson, professional Kirk Manley, ladies’ champion Kelly Ly and senior men’s champion Charles Kavanaugh – finished at 17-under-par. That was a stroke better than second-place Big Canyon Country Club at 16-under.
Mesa Verde Country Club and Santa Ana Country Club finished tied for third place at eight-under-par, while Newport Beach Country Club finished last in the five-team event at six-under-par.
Barton, originally from Dallas, Texas and playing in his first Jones Cup, caught fire on the back nine by recording six of his eight birdies in that stretch. As a team, Shady Canyon was 10-under par on the back nine in the two-best-ball format.
“It’s always unusual to make that many birdies on nine holes,” Barton said. “Sometimes you just get lucky, you know? Sometimes the stars align and golf gets easy for a second.”
Ly made five birdies on her round, with Kavanaugh making three. Gunson and Manley had two birdies each.
It quickly became a two-team race on the back nine, with Shady Canyon pulling ahead by a stroke. Big Canyon captain Robert Pang birdied No. 18 to pull his team into a tie for first at 16-under, but that meant that Shady Canyon, the last team to finish, also needed just one birdie on the final hole for the win.
Barton provided it, and Shady Canyon was able to celebrate.
“We made so many clutch putts,” Gunson said. “It was obviously meant to be … I think the expectation is that you should win on your home turf. We allowed all of the other teams to come for as many practice rounds as they wanted. We set up the tees a month ago, so everybody had an opportunity, but you know what it’s like. When you’re playing your home field, it’s a massive advantage, but we’ll take the advantage.”
Big Canyon was seeking to add to its tournament-best 10 Jones Cup titles. Pang and men’s club champion Stewart Hagestad each had six birdies on their rounds for Big Canyon, which also featured professional Chris Valeriano, ladies’ champion Olivia Slutzky and senior men’s champion Jamie Held.
But Big Canyon also made two bogeys in its round, at holes Nos. 5 and 10.
“In this format, you can’t make bogeys,” Pang said. “You just can’t do it. One bogey, you can live with, but two is a game-changer … You’ve got to make putts.”
Hagestad nearly made birdie at No. 18, despite hitting his second shot on the par-five into a plant hazard on the right side. He retook the shot and nearly holed it out, but it spun just back over the hole.
“I couldn’t see it because it was into the sun, but apparently it gave it a couple of looks,” Hagestad said. “It would have been really cool – a little walk-off – but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”
Big Canyon’s players waited at the 18th green for Shady Canyon to finish up. Barton provided the clinching shot after his teammates missed longer birdie attempts.
“I thought it was a ton of fun,” Barton said. “I love playing with the people from my club, so that made for a really fun day. I haven’t been a member here very long [about two years], so getting to know these guys has been good. Everyone had a really fun day; it was great.
“You never like to get beat on the course you play every day, that’s for sure. There’s some extra incentive to win on your own turf.”
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