Sports

Bates takes San Juan Open golf tournament for second time

Ron Bates celebrates after dropping a 12-foot putt for eagle on the final hole Saturday, finishing the round with an even-par 71. Bates shot 78 Sunday to win the San Juan Open.  - James Krall
Ron Bates celebrates after dropping a 12-foot putt for eagle on the final hole Saturday, finishing the round with an even-par 71. Bates shot 78 Sunday to win the San Juan Open.
— image credit: James Krall

Ron Bates won his second San Juan Open, shooting a par 71 on Saturday’s first round and finishing Sunday with a 78.

Bates’ combined score for both rounds was 149.

Lenny Thompson of Mount Vernon shot 154 for second place, followed by Nathan Moss with a two-round 155.

“To be quite honest with you, I stole it,” said Bates, a 2-handicap golfer. “A lot of the island’s low-handicap golfers weren’t there. (Three-time Open winner) Matt Cowell didn’t play. Phil McKee was at a wedding. The field was pretty thin for low handicap players. I would have liked to have seen more of our local players.

“Lenny Thompson, Burt Geisendorff and a few other players had the capability of shooting low scores, but tournament play always has the ability to throw people off their game.”

After the first round Saturday, Nathan Moss was closest to Bates, four strokes back at 75. Thompson, along with Geisendorff and Jim Chambers, were six strokes back at 77.

Things turned south for Thompson early Sunday morning as he stacked bogey on top of bogey on the first and second holes of the day.

“The beauty of it is I’ve been playing a long time and I know it can happen,” Thompson said. “You can’t start thinking too much. A lot of golf is muscle memory. You’ve got to be relaxed.”

Only Cody Price, the Wolverine senior, was stiff competition for Bates going in. Price self-destructed Saturday, shooting 11 over. Sunday, it just got worse.

Friday Harbor High School graduate Pearl Schuman won the women’s event, shooting 79 Saturday and 81 Sunday.

“The first day, I was pretty consistent ... I had a lot of fun out here, playing with my dad, Pat Curtis and John Bird,” the 7-handicap golfer said.

Sunday, Schuman struggled to hold her game together, shooting 9-over on the front nine.

“I shot four birdies on the back. I was pretty determined to turn my score around,” she said.

Schuman birdied the 17th hole Sunday, sinking a 70-foot putt from two feet off the green. “It was pretty sweet.”

According to her mother, Kate, the Santa Barbara City College graduate this year was awarded the Coaches Award in women’s golf and was named to the Western State Conference two years in a row.

“She was First Team both years,” Kate Schuman said.

There were 44 men in this year’s tournament, 12 women.

The annual event pits local golfers against sometimes tough off-island players, some of whom, like Seattle’s Scott Theissen, have been making the trip for the past 28 years.

Theissen has been returning in recent years with several of his friends from Seattle. All of them credit how well they’re treated as being a big reason why they come back.

“It’s neat ’cause it’s local, you get to know everybody,” said Bob Kruger, a lab scientist for King County. “It’s nice to go up there and know everybody. I’ll bet I’ve gotten to now about 50 people. It’s definitely the highlight of our year.”

There was unanimity as to the condition of the course: excellent. “The greens were wonderful, course is in great shape, it was set up fair,” Thompson said.

While other courses are often longer, with more par 5s, this course seems to be plenty tough.

“It seems like it should be easy. It’s not very long and the greens are not very big. It sneaks up on you. I can’t shoot my handicap there,” Kruger said.

“The greens are mounded, kind of like little tabletops. Sometimes you can get a good shot onto them and it can roll right off. It’s definitely a challenging course.”

In men’s and women’s flag events Saturday, Bob Betschart was closest to the pin on the 6th hole, with 16 feet 111/2 inches. Pearl Schuman was closest to the pin on the 17th hole at 34 feet 4 inches.

Susan Anderson sunk a 59 foot half-inch putt to win on the 9th hole. Jim Chambers won the longest putt on the 9th hole, dropping it in the cup from 291/2 feet away. Lenny Thompson and Diane Olshefsky had the longest drives.

Sunday, Matt Bishop was closest to the pin on the 8th hole, 12 feet 1 inch. Donna Burton sunk the longest putt on the 18th hole, 5 feet 2 inches. Dick Sandmeyer was deadly from 37 feet out on the 18th hole. Bates and Schuman won for longest drive.

Schuman wins women’s title; Cowell, McKee don’t play

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