California June Notebook: News from Across the Green

By Tom LaMarre, Contributor

There have been no major changes in Tiger Woods’ mind-set from the days when he was growing up in Southern California.

He points for, and wins, the biggest tournaments on his schedule, from the Junior Worlds to the U.S. Junior Amateur and the U.S. Amateur to the career Grand Slam.

Woods has won them all, with perhaps one exception, the California Amateur Championship, which will be played for the 91st time June 17-22 on two of the greatest courses in the world, the Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Links at Spanish Bay.

Actually, Woods played in the California Amateur only in 1994, when he lost in the semifinals of match play to Ed Cuff Jr. of Temecula, 2 and 1. A guy named Woods did win that year, but it was Steve Woods of Brentwood, who defeated Cuff in the 36-hole final, 5 and 3.

"We were very appreciative that Tiger played that year in both of the tournaments that are important to us," said Bob Thomas, director of communications for the Southern California Golf Assn. "In 1994, everyone on the map wanted him in their tournament, but he played in the State Amateur and the SCGA Amateur, which he won.

"He was already beyond us at that point but he stayed home and played. It was great to see him play at Pebble Beach. In those days, he would wind up and let it fly on every shot. On the ninth hole at Pebble, we play from the tips and he is the only one, amateur or pro, I have every seen hit his drive to the bottom of the hill. It has to be 350 or 360 yards."

Even without Woods, the list of winners of the California Amateur is impressive.

Johnny Miller (1968), Mark O’Meara (1979), Ken Venturi (1951, 1956) and Gene Littler (1953) went on to win major championships as professionals.

Others on the list who went on to make names as pros are Duffy Waldorf (1984), Bobby Clampett (1978, 1980), John Cook (1975), Dick Lotz (1962), Bob E. Smith (1967) and Forrest Fezler (1969).

Those who finished second include David Berganio Jr. (1992), Dave Stockton Jr. (1989), Bob May (1987), Lennie Clements (1979), John Lotz (1961) and Bob Rosburg (1948, 1944, 1943).

Paul Stankowski (1990), Corey Pavin (1982), Scott Simpson (1976), Craig Stadler (1974) and Cesar Sanudo (1966) were stroke-play medallists in the tournament who were knocked off in match play.

"It’s such a difficult tournament to win because there are so many good players and anything can happen in match play," Thomas said. "If it were just a 72-hole medal-play tournament, I think the college players would have the advantage. This way, we have had a good mix of younger players and mid-amateur players as champions in recent years.

"The best part, to me is, it’s free to walk the greatest course in the world all week and be close to the players because there are no ropes. It’s Pebble Beach, and it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, foggy or the wind is blowing. Whatever it was that Robert Louis Stevenson said about it being the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world is true."

In conjunction with the State Amateur, the California Senior Amateur will be played June 19-21 at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, and the California Net Amateur Match Play Championship will be held June 17-20 at the Bayonet and Blackhorse Courses in Seaside, Old Del Monte Golf Club in Monterey and Poppy Hills.

Darryl Donovan of Gilroy is defending champion in the California Amateur.


The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, a historic golfing treasure and resort in the Topa Topa Mountains above Ventura, is the new site for the Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament, which will be played June 30.

The event will be televised by ABC Sports on July 21 following the telecast of the final round of the British Open Championship from Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland.

Ojai previously was the host of the Senior PGA Tour’s FHP Health Care Classic and the EMC Skills Challenge, featuring players from the PGA and Senior PGA Tours.

Michael Douglas and Friends, which benefits the Motion Picture and Television Fund, was played previously at Ocean Trails Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. The tournament has raised $1.5 million for the fund, which was founded in 1921, as a relief fund for those in the motion picture industry who have fallen on hard times. The fund has become a major service organization that provides health and child care, retirement and social/charitable services.

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, something of a hidden gem, has been an exquisite vacation hideaway since it opened in 1923. The golf course, designed by the famed George C. Thomas for Humphrey Bogart and some of his Hollywood pals, has been one of the best courses in the state since it opened in 1923.


The purse for the Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott, which benefits the City of Hope, will be increased by $500,000 to $1.5 million for the 2003 tournament at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana.

Se Ri Pak of Korea held off Annika Sorenstam of Sweden by one stroke in the 2002 Office Depot in April in its first year at El Caballero, which attracted record crowds.

The Office Depot will become one of only four LPGA tournaments outside the major championships to offer a purse of $1.5 million or more.

Hyundai Motor America, which joined the tournament as a sponsor this year, awarded a Hyundai Tibouron to Pak, the only car to be awarded to a winner in an LPGA event this year, and donated $100,000 to the City of Hope.

The City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, is one of the world’s leading research and treatment centers for cancer and other serious diseases, including diabetes and HIV/AIDS. For more information, call (800) 260-HOPE.


As if Travis Johnson hadn’t proven enough in the previous two weeks, he wanted to send a message at the start of the final round in the Pasadena Amateur Championship.

So Johnson, a little like Arnold Palmer in the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Golf Club in Denver, drove the 314-yard first hole at the No. 1 course at Brookside Golf Club and made birdie to kick-start his round en route to a five-stroke victory.

"I wanted to let the rest of the guys know that if they wanted to beat me, they were going to have to bring their best game to the table," said Johnson a junior at UCLA from Bellflower who won the Southern California Public Links Championship and the Camarillo City Championship the previous two weeks.

Johnson shot 72-69-65-71—276, 12-under par, with Keith Kinsel of Glendale second at 71-67-70-73—281.


Gary Peterson has a tough act to follow next season at College of the Canyons after coaching the Cougars to men’s and women’s state championships this year.

Canyons pulled off the double when the men’s team won its third state championship by two strokes over College of the Desert in the 53rd California State Community College Championships at the SCGA Members’ Club in Murrieta.

"This is real exciting and pretty much a labor of love as a vocation," Peterson said. "I’ve had great people to work with and I’m looking forward to next year."

Ryan Ressa of Desert took the individual title at 72-72-144, even par, on a windy Spring day, with Vinnie Ponicon of Saddleback shooting 70-75-145 to tie for second with Brian Gonzales of Long Beach City College, who totaled 69-76-145.

Tommy Barber shot 73-74-147 and tied for third with Canyons teammates Jay Montes, who finished at 74-73-147, and Tommy Mansuwan, who came in at 71-76-177.

Barber, two-time WSC Player of the Year, is moving on but doesn’t plan on heading for a four-year school and doesn’t plan on turning pro, yet.

"I’m going to continue to pursue a golf career and work part time," said the grandson of Jerry Barber, who won the 1961 PGA Championship.


Callaway Golf Co. of Carlsbad conducted a court-approved raid in May, seizing 28,000 knock-off club heads, other golf club components and additional evidence at two locations in Orange County.

Also collected in the raid, conducted pursuant to a civil seizure order issued by the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, were more than 100,000 golf club medallions, 39 boxes of documents and information stored on 18 computers.

Most of the items seized were marked with the brand name "Big Easy."

"Those that distribute illegal copies of our golf clubs are taking unfair advantage of consumers, our retail customers, our employees and our shareholders," said Steve McCracken, senior executive vice president and chief legal officer of Callaway Golf. "We will continue to act swiftly and harshly to stop such conduct wherever possible."

Callaway Golf attorneys, investigators and forensic computer experts conducted the raids, accompanied by federal, state and local law enforcement officials.

The U.S. District Court issued an order on May 17 confirming the seizure, authorizing and ratifying the freeze of the defendants’ bank accounts, and entering a preliminary injunction against the defendants.

Callaway officials expect the investigation will spread to those who have done business with the defendants.


Walailak Satarak of UC Irvine was honored as Softspikes Freshman of the Year in Division I women’s college golf by the National Golf Coaches Assn. during the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships at Auburn, Wash.

A native of Thailand who graduated from Paramount High, Satarak helped the Anteaters win the Big West Conference championship in their inaugural season.

Satarak, who won the 1999 CIF/Women’s Southern California Golf Assn. Championship and the 2001 Los Angeles City Girls’ Championship, also received honorable mention on the National Golf Coaches Assn. All-American team.

Katherine Hull of Pepperdine and Mikaela Parmlid of USC were selected to the All-American team, with Lindsey Wright of Pepperdine making the second team.

Tom LaMarre, Contributor

Tom LaMarre has been a sportswriter and copy editor in California for parts of five decades, including 15 years with the Oakland Tribune and 22 with the Los Angeles Times.

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