NEWPORT BEACH – The final score may have been even par, but Mesa Verde Country Club's quest for a third straight Jones Cup championship was anything but steady Tuesday at Big Canyon Country Club.
Mesa Verde's round included seven birdies, but also seven bogeys, including two on one hole, to stymie their three-peat attempt. Host Big Canyon won its seventh Jones Cup with a nine-under 63 while Mesa Verde placed second at 72. Newport Beach finished one-over 73 while Santa Ana shot two-over 74 as teams used the two best balls per fivesome.
Mesa Verde bolted to three-under after the first three holes. Both assistant pro Lehua Wise and senior champion Tom McGreevy birdied the par-four 11th, which was the team's second hole because play started on No. 10.
Mesa Verde bogeyed three more holes before making the turn at even. The team started its back nine with four birdies in four holes [two from Wise and one each from McGreevy and men's champion Brad Miller] to move to four-under, which at the time placed them two shots behind leader Big Canyon.
Two bogeys on the par-four fifth coupled with single bogeys on the next two holes sent Mesa Verde, which also included women's champion Sally Holstein and club pro Tom Sargent, back to even to stay.
"We struggled and the course played really tough," Wise, who has played on the Duramed Futures Tour, the LPGA's developmental tour, said. "If you were above the hole, you were dead.
"It helps having local knowledge of where to be and where not to be."
Miller, making his first Jones Cup appearance, has played the course more than 40 times and said it makes a difference once you're behind in how you play the holes.
"After those two bogeys on 5, we had to make lots of birdies," he said. "On the sixth tee I'm trying to kill it and on 9 I'm aiming for a pin that I would usually play conservatively."
The pin on No. 9 was placed far right with a lake guarding that side of the green.
"I know where I'm supposed to hit, but I probably didn't hit it there," Miller said. "I was the weakest link. I only had one birdie and that didn't help us. The women were the strength of the team. Sally made 125 feet in putts."
Holstein a former Big Canyon member, sank a 40-foot, right-to-left birdie putt on the par-three 12th hole which pushed the group to three-under. She also sank a long par putt on the par-five sixth hole to keep Mesa Verde from dropping a second stroke on the hole.
McGreevy's other birdie came on the par-four first hole.
Wise, making her Jones Cup debut, played from the white tees while the women's champions played from the red tees, closer to the green. The men played from the blue tees.
Head pros from each of the four clubs discussed and a majority eventually determined Wise would play from the white tees.
"Lehua is a great player. We wanted to keep it fair so all clubs would have a chance," Big Canyon head pro Robert Pang said.
Wise took the news she would play from the white tees in stride.
"A few days ago I played with Michael Castillo [a Big Canyon assistant pro] and he told me," Wise said. "I can see both sides of the argument and I am fine."