Santa Ana CC is oh, so close

SANTA ANA — Santa Ana Country Club orchestrated arguably its finest performance in the 14th Jones Cup golf tournament on its home course Wednesday.

But Big Canyon Country Club was one stroke better in the annual event that features fivesomes from five area country clubs and golf clubs: Shady Canyon Golf Club, Newport Beach Country Club, Mesa Verde Country Club, Big Canyon and Santa Ana.

The Santa Ana fivesome of head pro Geoff Cochrane, assistant pro Nick Kumpis, women's champion Liz Slater, senior champion Boyd Martin and men's champion David Kendall shot a 10-under-par 62 in the two-best ball format.

Big Canyon claimed its third straight Jones Cup crown after shooting 11-under.

Santa Ana entered the par-five 18th hole, a dogleg left with water on the left side, at nine-under, two strokes behind Big Canyon.

Kendall and Kumpis each hit their drives in the fairway and went for the green in two on the 473-yard hole.

Kumpis stuck his 198-yard, 4-iron shot to 15 feet. Kendall hooked his second shot, which ended on the side of a hill to the left of the green.

Martin, meanwhile, layed up on his second shot, but then hit a wedge to 8 feet, and had a birdie putt waiting for him.

Kumpis took his time before putting, getting feedback from his playing partners on the speed and line. The right-to-left eagle try missed by 2 inches.

He tapped in for his second birdie to go with his 4 on the par-five hole.

Then it was up to Martin, aiming for his fifth birdie for the round. The putt missed left.

"We did everything we could, but it wasn't quite enough," Martin said.

Santa Ana played a bogey-free round and received contributions from every player. Martin led the team with four birdies while Cochrane tallied all three of his birdies on the back nine to help Santa Ana finish that side at six-under.

Kendall added one birdie and Slater contributed crucial pars, such as on Nos. 8, 9 and 17.

"Boyd was really solid all day," Cochrane said. "Like every year, it comes down to who makes more putts. David Kendall had rolls [putts] where he could have had four birdies."

Kendall soaked up his first Jones Cup, especially the amphitheater-like atmosphere on the 18th green dotted with spectators.

"To see everyone on the slope, it's almost like a mini stadium," Kendall said. "It's a fantastic feeling to be a part of this. It would have been nice to play better for them, to win one for the club."

Santa Ana started strong, with birdies on three of the first four holes, and finished the front nine at four-under 32.

Cochrane and Martin each birdied the 508-yard par-five 10th to go to six-under. Cochrane missed a 20-foot eagle putt by inches while Martin sank a 12-foot right-to-left breaker.

Santa Ana made headway on the par fives, finishing six-under on those holes, which included the 522-yard 15th hole.

On that hole, Cochrane boomed a three-wood 255 yards onto the green in two. He two-putted for birdie while Martin methodically hit his third shot from 80 yards to 5 feet and sank the putt for a 4, though it wasn't easy.

"Hitting that 5-footer, the hole starts to shrink," Martin said while walking down the 16th fairway.

Kendall felt the same way, referring to putts from several team members on the par-three second hole.

"I had the fear of God watching the downhill putts on that hole," Kendall said.

Though they didn't win, Santa Ana players said they had a great time and gave their fans something to applaud.

"It was remarkable, I would love to be back here next year," Kendall said.

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