Big Canyon three-peat

SANTA ANA — Last year it was Mike Carpenter's 25-foot eagle putt that proved to be a memorable, heroic shot for Big Canyon Country Club's Jones Cup victory.

This year, it was head pro Robert Pang who stepped up with the seemingly improbable theatrics at the 14th annual Jones Cup Wednesday at Santa Ana Country Club.

Pang rebounded from a drive on 18 that pulled and hit a tree. No one thought Pang could pull off a birdie when his ball landed to the left, behind the green on 17. But Pang stunned them all and provided a birdie that eventually proved to be the difference, giving Big Canyon its third straight Jones Cup win and ninth overall.

The trophy is named after the popular auto dealer Fletcher Jones. But if Pang's team keeps this up, organizers might need to rename the event, "The Big Canyon Cup."

Pang played a huge part in this one with four birdies and the big one on the par-five 18. It helped Big Canyon finish at 11-under-par 61 in the two-best-ball format.

Santa Ana had an opportunity to win its first Jones Cup on 18 with chances for eagle and birdie, but the host club came up short. Santa Ana nearly forced a playoff, but fell one stroke short at -10. Nick Kumpis, Santa Ana's assistant pro, came within inches of sinking his eagle chance from about 15 feet out. Santa Ana senior champ Boyd Martin just missed on his birdie chance from about eight feet out that would've forced the playoff.

Mesa Verde was third at -9, Newport Beach followed at -8 and Shady Canyon, next year's Jones Cup host, came in at -6.

"The three-peat, it's pretty fun to say," Pang said. "What a final hole. [Santa Ana] had eagle, birdie chances and we just escape. It was pretty cool. Santa Ana played well. They had a great team. Geoff [Cochrane] is always solid. They had a totally different look. That's the team that should have the perk with the home-field advantage. They made it exciting for everybody."

Santa Ana had a large gallery following its team adding to the drama at 18.

When Pang's drive on 18 hit the tee, he appeared to stay cool, even though he had a challenge to get to the green.

"I had no clue where the ball was at," Pang said of his drive.

He had 220 yards to clear the water, but he saw a straightaway shot just aside trees. He then needed about another 135 yards to get onto the green, and he was fine with that getting to within eight feet of the cup.

A few minutes later, Pang was standing over his shot with a clenched fist in the air to celebrate a memorable birdie.

"It was almost like a roller-coaster ride," Pang said. "It was a Disneyland type of a hole."

Carpenter played in this year's Jones Cup, subbing in for Taylor Wood, the men's club champion who has been busy since the birth of his baby daughter on Sunday night, Pang said.

Carpenter said he was happy to be a part of Big Canyon's three-peat, and he enjoyed Pang's clutch performance.

"Last year was my turn and this year it was Robert's turn to step it up," Carpenter said.

Assistant pro Michael Castillo also stepped up with some heroic play for Big Canyon. He also birdied on 18 after getting to within 10 feet from the cup after a solid bunker shot.

Castillo and Pang also helped Big Canyon with par saves on the par-three 17th to keep their team in contention. Jillian Braverman, the club's women's champion making her Jones Cup debut, and senior champ Steve Collins were also a part of the huge win.

"To win three in a row is very special," Castillo said. "We really like this event a lot. And to win it, it makes it even more special to us.

"Robert played well for the most part all day. He made a real solid putt for birdie after hitting the tree on 18. That just shows you have to be a little lucky, but you also have to stay focused to pull off the special shots."

Braverman, a former Corona del Mar High and Pepperdine tennis standout, nearly birdied 18, but her putt from five feet out lipped out. She birdied No. 3 and said she had fun playing in her first Jones Cup.

Braverman started playing golf three years ago after finishing up at Pepperdine. She was a part of the low-gross victory at the Balboa tournament Thursday at Big Canyon.

"It's been amazing," Braverman said of taking up golf. "I feel like I missed my true calling with golf. I picked up the golf clubs about three years ago. It was like love at first strike."

Being a part of a third-straight Jones Cup victory only added to her love for golf.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World