Travis Russell was on familiar territory, at least this side of the Pacific Ocean, as he followed Estancia High's Jake Knapp during the U.S. Open local qualifying round at Newport Beach Country Club last week.
Russell, who twice earned all-league recognition at Newport Harbor, spent his freshman and sophomore college years at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. But he is in the middle of getting paperwork finalized for his transfer to UC Irvine.
Russell said he won't lose a year of eligibility, making him able to join Coach Paul Smolinski and the Anteaters as soon as possible.
Flexibility was a key factor in the transfer. Russell said he often had to drive an hour to the course to either practice or play.
"It will be nice to see familiar faces and I know these surroundings," Russell said. "We had a young team at Hawaii and they were accepting but the travel was tough. Now if I want to get out and hit balls I can be at the course in no time."
Russell helped Hawaii finish eighth of 20 teams at the NCAA Division II Men's Central/West Region Championship earlier this month at the Wigwam Golf Course in Litchfield Park, Ariz. Russell tied for 29th for the three-round tournament (77-73-74 — 224). Twice this season he was named Pacific West Conference Golfer of the Week.
Smolinski also has reason to be optimistic for next season with the arrival of Jacob Schulze, a Huntington Beach High senior.
Schulze helped the Oilers reach the CIF Team Final Championship at Santa Barbara's Rancho San Marcos Golf Course earlier this month. He also shot four-over-par 76 to finish tied for 48th at the CIF Southern Individual Regional Final at Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach, which Knapp won with a 66.
In March Schulze won the Advance Boys division of the 36-hole San Bernardino Junior Shootout at Shandin Hills Golf Club. Schulze (72-73 — 145) birdied the par-four 18th hole to reach a playoff in the 17-player field and won on the first playoff hole (also the 18th) with a par. The event featured was part of the Junior Amateur Golf Scholars Tour, based in the Western United States. Schulze was named the tour's Player of the Year in 2011.
"He hits the ball a long ways and you can tell he enjoys competing," Smolinski said of Schulze.
The Jones Cup is on the horizon and we will be printing the teams through the next few weeks.
Santa Ana Country Club's team will include head pro Geoff Cochrane, assistant Nick Kumpis, Liz Slater (ladies champion), Chris Veitch (senior champion) and the men's champion spot.
Cochrane said the men's representative will be the low qualifier for the men's club championship since that tournament won't be contested until after the Jones Cup on June 27.
Mesa Verde's group will include head pro Tom Sargent, assistant Mike Fergin, Sally Holstein (ladies champion), Preston Murray (senior champion), and Ed Susolik (men's champion). Susolik (74-75-73 — 222) claimed his first Mesa Verde club championship with a two-stroke victory Sunday over Steve Rhorer.
Newport Beach Country Club will host the 13th Jones Cup at 12:30 p.m. June 27. Big Canyon leads all teams with seven tournament titles followed by Mesa Verde with four. Shady Canyon will be making its debut.
Each team has five players whose two best scores are counted per hole.
BRYCE ALDERTON is the golf writer for the Daily Pilot. He can be reached at email@example.com.