Carpenter finds game

It would seem easy, or refreshing, to write a story about Mike Carpenter and provide the impression that he stumbled upon the game of golf.

But that would be unfair to his persona and to the reason he continues to play. To put it simply, Carpenter is a competitor.

From tee to green, he displays a strong competitive spirit that was seen on the basketball court while growing up in Laguna Beach. Carpenter played basketball at Santa Margarita High. Hoops was his world back then, but he still had time for fun with golf too.

He said his parents were members at Big Canyon Country Club, and Carpenter also played there. But back then Carpenter made a name for himself in basketball. He went on to play at SMU.

You would think he would stumble onto competing in golf back then. While he attended SMU, Hank Haney was the men's golf coach for the Mustangs.

But it wasn't until after SMU when Carpenter fell in love with golf. Now at 39, he is well-known in the community for his golf game. He'll be one of many playing in the 40th Will Jordan Classic, also known as the Costa Mesa City Championship at Costa Mesa Country Club Saturday and Sunday.

The tournament is close to Carpenter's heart. After all it was 11 years ago when he broke onto the local scene and won the Costa Mesa City Championship.

"Danny Lane puts together the tournament and he invited me to play in it," Carpenter said. "You know, Mark O'Mearaand Scott Simpson have won it. And he tells me this. And he tells me, 'If you play well you probably have a chance to win.' I had never played on that golf course. I didn't have any expectation. And what do you know? I ended up winning the thing. It just goes to show that anything can happen in that tournament."

Carpenter hasn't won the City since, but he'll give it another shot this year. He can be considered a contender, considering what he has done lately. For the second straight year, he won the men's club championship at Big Canyon.

He also came up big in the Jones Cup. His 25-foot eagle putt on No. 18 at Newport Beach was the stuff of legend. The putt was needed for Big Canyon to pull even with Mesa Verde and force a playoff.

Big Canyon came out on top in the playoff. Carpenter helped Big Canyon win the Jones Cup for the eighth time in its 13th year history.

Carpenter showed his competitive spirit on the remarkable eagle putt. He admits he really can't do that type of stuff on a basketball court anymore.

"I'm 39 now," Carpenter said. "I can't do that against young guys on the court. But I can play this game. Golf is the one sport I can compete in now."

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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