Lyon Lazare wins Costa Mesa City Championship

COSTA MESA — Lyon Lazare says he has taken a break from performing as a pianist and musical composer. But he still seems to be making sweet music with his golf game.

His talents on the course were on display Sunday at Costa Mesa Country Club, where he won the 40th Will Jordan Classic, better known as the Costa Mesa City Championship. Lazare, playing in front of a gallery of about 80 people, shot four-under-par 68 on the Los Lagos course and won the two-day tournament with an 11-under 131, four shots lower than runner-up Ryan Knapp of UC Irvine. Knapp also finished second in 2009.

The majority of the gallery was there to support the Knapp brothers, Ryan and the younger Jake, who just graduated from Estancia High and is headed to play for UCLA. The Knapps were the talk of the first round, after Ryan shot seven-under 63 to tie Lazare and Jake fired a 64 on Mesa Linda.

But Lazare took center stage on Sunday and stole the show while playing with the Knapps on Los Lagos.

Playing golf and playing the piano has similarities, Lazare says. They both usually require creativity. He says he uses creativity with his course management while measuring shots and using strategy.

The Chapman University incoming junior who played at Orange Coast College used that creativity to start off hot with a birdie on three of the first four holes. He finished the final round with two bogeys and three more birdies on the back nine to hold off Ryan Knapp.

You could say Lazare ended on a high note. He closed with a birdie on the par-five 18th.

Lazare said his putting help him earn the championship.

"I was rolling the ball really good," he said. "It helped me a lot throughout the whole entire final round, just getting up and down, and making a couple of birdies."

Lazare shared a hug with Ryan Knapp after the final round. They played together as juniors while growing up. Lazare grew up in Newport Beach before moving to Villa Park.

Ryan grew up in Costa Mesa and is well known at Costa Mesa Country Club, where Jake also played frequently. Ryan also played for Estancia and OCC.

Jake struggled with the greens on Los Lagos and shot six-over 78. He tied for sixth at even-par 142 making his City championship debut.

"He played great golf from start to finish," Ryan Knapp said of Lazare. "I started slow and picked it up and then hit a few bad shots down the stretch. But it's golf. Sometimes you don't hit it well."

Ryan Knapp, an incoming junior for UCI, had trailed by three shots but caught Lazare on No. 13, where Lazare made his first bogey. Ryan Knapp nearly made a birdie putt, but settled for par and tied Lazare at -10.

But Ryan Knapp bogeyed the par-five No. 14 and double bogeyed the par-three No. 15, falling four shots behind, as Lazare went birdie-par on the two holes.

"Ryan kept me on my toes the whole time," Lazare said. "It came down to the final few holes."

Lazare and the Knapp brothers said they enjoyed playing in front of a large gallery. Sean Collins, the tournament director and OCC men's golf coach, said it was the largest crowd he's seen at the City championship.

The final round was also special for Collins.

"These guys played for me at OCC so it got pretty emotional for me to see them out there," Collins shared with a few golfers and their families during an intimate and quaint awards ceremony. "I'm sorry parents, but they're like my kids."

Collins was impressed with Lazare and Ryan Knapp. Lazare's performance stood out.

"For him to step up like this shows me how much he's grown," Collins said.

Lazare's father, Tom, who was the champion's caddy, said his son pulled through with big-time concentration and motivation from the crowd, which wasn't anti-Lazare yet cheered louder for the Knapps.

Jake and Ryan left Sunday night for Sandpiper Golf Course in Santa Barbara, where Jake will compete in the Southern California Golf Assn. Match Play and Senior Match Play Championships that begin Monday and end Wednesday. Ryan will caddy for his younger brother.

Chris Rendler (68-72), Scott Sexton (66-74) and Sean Caligiuri (69-71) finished tied for third at two-under 140 in the championship flight behind Ryan Knapp.

Kris Assawapimonporn (70-72), Amit Chopra (68-74) and Daniel Russell (71-71) tied for sixth with Jake Knapp at 142.

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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