Rain-soaked fairways and greens wreaked havoc at the annual Herb Kranick Memorial Golf Tournament Saturday and Sunday.
It was the first time the tournament was opened to golfers younger than 55, and two collegiate golfers — Matt Cowell and Pearl Schuman — walked away with the tournament’s best scores.
Bob Erickson (11 handicap) took net honors for men with 65. Sandy Montana (24 handicap) took women’s net honors with 69.
“It rained,” Schuman said flatly Monday. The Western Washington University junior has an 8-handicap and shot a 78 for the two-day tournament.
“On the front nine, there was a lot of rain. It stopped on the back nine and it was really nice. Usually people have problems with wet grips. I was in my dad’s cart and had towels and I was OK.”
Cowell added, “I don’t know how not to talk about the rain. The rain made the greens a lot softer so the ball spun a lot more. A lot of people had trouble with it.”
The better-than-scratch golfer shot 70 for the tournament and had to make adjustments for the rain. “The greens were really soft, so I was spinning everything off the greens. I was chipping back up the front of the green to save par.”
For the three-time San Juan Open champion, who also holds the course record at 65, Cowell’s win comes one week before he heads to Bellingham for the Bellingham Amateur Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course, Saturday.
On the line is the lone remaining spot on WWU’s golf team, where Cowell is transferring from Santa Clara University in California.
“There’s six to eight people there competing for it,” Cowell said. “The coach will be there watching. Two rounds. Low score gets on the team.”
Erickson took the rain in stride. “My game was the best I’ve shot in a few years,” he said. “I think I had four birdies on the day. Just played pretty steady golf, nothing spectacular. I stayed away from the double-bogeys. It was a beautiful Pacific Northwest sunny day … liquid sunshine.”
Montana played better than she expected given the conditions. “I shot 3 under my handicap,” she said. “It was awesome. I play better in the rain than I do in the sun. Don’t ask me why, but the ball went straight.”
The high point for Montana was sinking a 34-foot putt on the No. 6 hole.
“It was a great tournament,” Montana said. “Despite the weather. Everybody turned out and we splashed our way through it.”
That everyone turned out, as Montana said, was largely due to the generosity of Herb’s Tavern owner Shelley Borahan, who put up $1,000 as prize money for the flag events.
Her tavern is named after Kranick and Borahan’s support made a difference.
“The tournament was falling apart,” Borahan said. “They cancelled it last year and I think the year before that. This year, we just gave it some new life, so Herb wouldn’t lose his tournament. The tournament funds the gardens and makes it pretty out there. We just wanted to keep it alive for him.”
The flag events paid out in gift certificates around town, Cowell said. Scratching around for official flag results, Cowell rattled the winners off the top of his head:
Long drives were won by Cowell and Borahan.
Long drives on the No. 4 for the senior division were won by Mark McClintock and Diane Olshefsky.
Closest to the pond on the No. 1 was Terri Kruth. Her husband, Ted, had the longest drive in the super-senior division.
Closest to the pin on the No. 6 was won by Kent Meeker and Schuman, who also won it on the No. 17. Norma Barrett won it on the No. 8.
Straightest drive on the No. 7 was won by Mark McClintock. Frank Fagan had the closest drive to Herb’s Tree.