Jones Cup: Similarities link champions

Count to three.

That's the number of common characteristics Debbie Fleming and Ron Hooven carried in their runs to the women's and senior club championships, respectively, at Newport Beach Country Club.

Both players were tied for the lead heading into the final round. Each of them cited the par-three 17th hole as a pivotal point in their run to victory. They each won by two strokes.

Hooven (senior) and Fleming (women's) will join Greg Rokos, head pro Paul Hahn and assistant pro Robbie Maurer on team NBCC for this year's Jones Cup at 1 p.m. June 29 at Mesa Verde Country Club.

They will compete against five-player teams from Big Canyon, Mesa Verde and Santa Ana country clubs in a two-best ball format.

Fleming and Hahn are returners from last year's team that finished third at 10-under-par 134. Hooven will compete for the first time while Fleming makes her third Jones Cup appearance.

Fleming (84-79-84-83 — 330) played with friend Isako Takada (82-86-79-85 — 332), who finished second, in the final two rounds and felt as if it was match play.

"We were even through 13 [holes]," Fleming said. "We both played well and had to roll putts in after one another."

Fleming took a one-shot lead after the 14th hole and came to the 17th, her nemesis of the tournament. She went bogey-double bogey-triple bogey in the first three rounds.

This time the result was different.

"I hit a perfect tee shot right below the pin," Fleming said. She made par and went to 18 ahead by two strokes.

Hooven (77-78 — 155) claimed his first senior club championship ahead of Jan-Erik Palm (77-80 — 157), the 2009 senior champion, who finished second.

Hooven, who played golf at Corona del Mar High and UC Irvine, said the shot that helped him the most was a six-or-seven-foot par putt on the 17th in the final round that put him two shots ahead of Palm heading to 18.

In the Jones Cup, Hooven said two keys to playing well at Mesa Verde are: drive the ball well with the tree-lined fairways and putt well. Fleming, whose birthday is June 29, said her role is to make par and let the men hit the ball far to increase hopes of making birdies and/or eagles.

"[Mesa Verde] is a beautiful course and it's always in good shape," Fleming said.

Haeseung Lee (74-75-76-74 — 299) won the men's club championship, but Rokos (77-75-77-78 — 307) will play in his place.

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