Golf: It might be Susolik's year

There are some prominent local amateurs competing in the 41st annual Costa Mesa City Championship Saturday and Sunday at Costa Mesa Country Club.

Lyon Lazare returns as the defending champion of the tournament also known as the Will Jordan Classic.

Ryan Knapp, who played at Estancia High and Orange Coast College and now plays for UC Irvine, will also be competing in the championship flight, starting on Los Lagos on Saturday morning. Knapp finished second last year and was also the runner-up in 2009. Could this be the year he breaks through?

His younger brother, Jake, the Estancia standout who now plays for UCLA, will miss the Costa Mesa City. He accepted an invitation to play in the Canadian Amateur at Royal Colwood Golf Club.

There are other high level players in the Costa Mesa tournament for sure. But Ed Susolik is one to watch for among them.

For those who read the news section in the Daily Pilot, his name is familiar because he is the attorney representing the family of the late Dr. Ronald Gilbert, in wrongful-death and fraud claims filed against Stanwood Elkus.

Susolik's name has been in the sports section as well. He was featured last year after he won the Mesa Verde Country Club men's championship and played in the Jones Cup.

With regard to golf, Susolik is on quite the tear. The 50-year-old nearly qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in June, when he lost in a playoff at the qualifier. He then shot a seven-under-par 64 at Olivas Links in the Ventura County Championship, where he finished sixth.

Susolik, who finished third in the Costa Mesa City in 2009, also knows Costa Mesa well. He was a five-time winner of the Costa Mesa Country Club championship before he joined Mesa Verde.

"I feel very confident this year," said Susolik, the 2012 Santa Ana City Championship winner. "I've been working hard on my short game. I also made a major change in my swing in the last year. The change sacrificed length for accuracy. I have more accurate drives, instead of longer drives."

Accuracy will certainly be key in the Costa Mesa City, as Tournament Director Sean Collins is known for his challenging pin placements.

Collins, who is also the Orange Coast College men's golf coach, said there will be close to 300 players in the Costa Mesa City, and about 130 in the championship flight.

"It should be fun," Collins said in a sly tone.

Susolik said he expects the tournament to be a challenge, because of the field and the courses, Los Lagos on Saturday and Mesa Linda on Sunday.

Susolik said 63 is his low on Mesa Linda and he said he shot a 68 on Los Lagos. But the setup will be different this weekend.

Still, Susolik is prepared.

"The secret to playing in the City is being patient and understanding that Sean Collins will set the pins on the toughest spots," Susolik said. "Also you can do well if you understand that it's a 6,000-yard course that is playing five shots tougher than the scorecard. If you don't do that there will be frustration. I know the course and I know the tournament. I just have to put two good rounds together."

Easier said than done.

Susolik also said the second day of the Costa Mesa City can be challenging because of the volunteers who walk with the scoreboard. Those guys can be a distraction, Susolik said.

"You're not used to that as amateurs," he said. "It's easy to lose focus. You have to learn to deal with that."

Susolik remains confident.

He has been an expert of time management, balancing practice and 60-hour work weeks. He usually plays on the weekends, but he is also efficient with practice time during the week.

Sometimes after he's done at the office, he'll work on his short game, as he did on Friday.

With the work put in and the recent success on the course, Susolik says he has been playing with confidence.

He'll try to ride that to his first Costa Mesa City Championship victory.

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