TEE TO CUP | by Phil Roche About Phil


    Theegala, Hoey Top U.S. Open Local qualifiers; Mendoza, Fedorka also advance to Sectionals    

     Lean, lanky Sahith Theegala, 18, a 6-foot-4 freshman at Pepperdine University, topped the field of pros and amateurs Thursday in U.S. Open Local qualifying at La Purisima Country Club in Lompoc. Theegala's 67 was three strokes lower than runner-up Clayton Chatterly's 2-under-par 70. Sahith thus hits the U.S. Open road June 6 in Sectional 36-hole qualifying at Lake Merced, along with Chatterly and three other La Purisima qualifiers. 

     Theegala, this week playing in the NCAA Division I Regionals in Tennessee, is coming off a banner first-year in which he averaged 71.14 in 10 tournaments, made the first team All Western Athletic Conference team, and was named WAC Freshman of the Year. Theegala, who won the Inland Valley Championship in 2014, lives in Chino Hills and played four years at Diamond Bar High School.

      Another amateur, Rico Hoey of Rancho Cucamonga, was co-medalist May 9 at Indian Ridge Country Club in Palm Desert. Hoey, a senior at USC, fired a 66 to earn a trip to the Sectionals at Lake Merced. 

     Theegala and Hoey will be joined on June 6 -- called the "longest day" -- by Kyle Mendoza of Glendora who qualified with a 72 at Andalusia Country Club on May 10, and Upland's Mitchell Fedorka, whose 72 at Bermuda Dunes Country Club last Thursday moved him on to the Sectionals.

      The leaders at Lake Merced head for the U.S. Open June 16--19 at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania.  


Bruce Thompson, the popular, long-time teaching prfoessional at Marshall Canyon Golf Course in La Verne, is recovering these days from hip-replacement surgery. Ouch! You're right. 

    Thompson's right hip, "a bone-on-bone" painful problem, was replaced 10 days ago, and Thompson reports from his Mt. Baldy home,"I'm just lying around, and I hope by next week to be able to drive and walk outside again."

    For Thompson, who taught golf at Claremont Golf Course for 25 years before the facility was closed a year ago, this marks hip-replacement No. 2. His left hip was replaced two decades ago, and healed after two months of rest and recuperation. 

    "This one's no different," says Thompson, "I'll be back on the range at Marshall with Kenny Murray (head professional) as soon as I can swing again."


     Joe Murray of Upland, 33, posted rounds of 69 and 73 to finish second at 2 under par. Todd Stires, a veteran amateur out of Murrietta, posted 76 and then a one-under 71 to tie for third at 147 with Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills (71-76), and Fontana's Jacob Williams (73-74).

     Others in the top echelon of the Championship flight included Kyle Haas, Rancho Cucamonga (71-78--149); Ryder Epson, Long Beach(72-77==149);Ed Susolik, Newport Beach (73-76--149); William Mouw, Chino (73-77--150); Tom Norys, Murrietta (75-75--150); and Brandon Tsujimoto, Pomona (75-75--150).

     Eight-handicapper Johnathan Stours of Upland (82-81 gross) finished with a net 146 to win the First flight. Second flight honors went to Christian Rinaldi of Monrovia (84-92 gross) who finished with a net 145. Augusta winner was John Perry of Alta Loma (94-95 gross) who netted out at 141.

     All in all, it was a wonderful tournament packed with a field of top players, battling amid high temperatures (over 100 degrees both days) at two challenging, respected valley courses. 

Lizette Salas misses tie for first by one stroke at Classic    

Folks in these parts were pulling for Lizette Salas of Azusa to win LPGA Meijer Classic Sunday. but the former USC great came up one stroke short. Salas ended the 72 hole test at 17 under par, but Lexi Thompson, 20, did her one better, finishing with a flashy 65 in Belmont, Mich. and 18 under par. 

    Lizette said later she had driving problems, but she "hung in there" and finished her round with a one under 70. She needed a birdie on 18 to tie Lexi but her second shot, some 35 feet from the cup, was truly out of bird range. Salas was disappointed because, after all, she was leading by four strokes on Saturday.

      Lizette's dad, Ramon, who came to the U.S. from Mexico and works on the maintenance crew at Azusa Greens Country Club, followed her every step of the way.  

Mike Bobiak attacked by swarm of angry bees

     "The bees were mean, angry, and they wouldn't let up even when I was lying quietly face down," said Mike Bobiak after he was attacked and bitten by a swarm of hundreds of bees during a round of golf at Empire Lakes Golf Course. 

     Bobiak was attacked on the 12th fairway of the Rancho Cucamonga course on Wednesday by the swirling bees and later had to be treated at an urgent care center at a local hospital. 

     "Someone must have disturbed their nest, and they took it out on me," said Bobiak, a retired teacher and former West Covina High golf coach. "They just came on suddenly and started biting me. I shielded my face but they got me on the arms and neck. It's a good thing I was wearing long pants; they didn't attack my legs."

      Bobiak's playing partners rushed to his aid, but the bees bit them also and forced them away while they continued their assault on Mike.

      "I lay down hoping they'd go away, but that didn't help," said Bobiak. "Finally I just jumped into a cart and drove away to the clubhouse."

      Later, he checked into urgent care was treated for scores of bee bites. "I finished 11 and one half holes,'' he said, "but the course staff was very helpful and gave all us a full discount for a full round of golf.

     "You know, though, I'm going to be mighty careful next time when I reach that 12th hole," he said with a short laugh. 

Time to Sign up for the 31st Annual Inland Valley Championship

    Here we go again. Join the golf parade. 

     For the 31st time, we'll be presenting the Inland Valley Amateur Championship, a tournament for all, but a shootout in the Championship Flight to determine the best player in the Southland. 

     Every golfer who thinks he can play a little has played at least once in the ultra-competitive Inland Valley Amateur Championship, which will be held this time around at Prado's prize course, Chino Creek on Saturday, Aug. 15, and tree-lined Red Hill Country Club on Sunday, Aug. 16. 

     Last year's top player, 17-year-old Sahith Theegala, out of Chino Hills, is expected back along with some 125 other competitors, juniors, old-timers and ladies. Yes, tournament manager Tom Borba has invited the women in Southern California again to join the 36-hole battle for honors. 

     "Last year, we had a three-man playoff in the Championship Flight won by Sahith," says Borba. "This year again we're looking forward to more fierce competition. After all, when you get the best amateurs in the Southland together, what else do you expect?"

      So. to join the fun, contact Borba at 951-295-8086, or through his email at tom@premieregolfsolutions.com. Entry, which includes two rounds of golf, cart, awards galore, free range balls, and lunch at Red Hill on Sunday, is $180.

      What's more, a portion of each golfer's entry fee goes to a worthy cause: The Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center at Pomona Medical Hospital.  

  A heart-breaker, what else can I say?  

It was heart-breaking to watch, too disappointing to describe. That two=foot putt that Dustin Johnson missed on Sunday ended the 115th U.S. Open -- on a sour note, a sad departure for a good tournament. 

    Johnson deserved better. He deserved a shot Monday in a playoff with Jordan Spieth. Even Spieth would say that. If Johnson lost the playoff, so be it; at least he would have been in it. With that miss, Johnson was gone, defeated, left with only a memory of his outstanding play -- almost to the end. 

    Anyway, I hope Dustin comes back, is a good forgetter, and goes on to greater victories. In the meantime, millions of golf fans and I share his disappointment. That playoff would have been a great one.

Carrigan qualifies for U.S. Senior Open 

Patrick Carrigan of Walnut fired a one-over-par 73 on June 2 at Crystalaire Country Club to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open later this month.

   Carrigan finished third in Sectional qualifying behind medalist Doug Williams, Los Angeles, and Tal Tartaglia, Reedley, who posted rounds of 70 and 72 respectively. The Senior Open is scheduled for Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento June 25-28.      





Skovron gave up his own career to caddy for Fowler; Smart guy

   Joe Skovron, who has caddied for Rickie Fowler for years now, was on the bag Sunday as usual when Fowler won the Tournament Players Championship after three miraculous birds on the No. 17 island hole.

   Skovron, who won the City of Chino Championship three straight years and coached the University of La Verne golf team, figured he'd be on the PGA Tour himself after he finished a stellar career at ULV son 14 years ago. 

   It's safe to say Joe made the right choice when he decided to put his own game on hold while he made a mint caddying for Fowler.  Rickie picked up another $1.8 million for his TPC victory, and Skovron should cash in about 10 per cent for his bag-toting work. Nice work if you can get it 

Missing 'Tee to Cup'

  A kind woman whose husband is an avid golfer recently said smilingly, "I don't see your picture in the paper anymore. I miss it." I replied, "So do I, but the Daily Bulletin cut the 'Tee to Cup' column out more than a year ago. They cut back on a lot of local coverage." 

   The old name-filling column extolling local golfers ran in area newspapers for more than 60 years beginning somewhere in the mid-1950s at the Pomona Progress Bulletin. Fred Claire, the ex-Dodgers general manager, Jerry Miles, and Mike Rawlinson all wrote "Tee to Cup" before I started sending in the weekly column in the mid 1970s. I wrote a column every week -- rain or shine -- until January 2012 when I received a phone call informing me the column would be cut in half and eventually eliminated.

    Oh, my, I thought. There go local golfers -- their holes in one, low scores, funny incidents, coming tournaments, high school results, and junior accomplishments -- and yes, there went my picture. At least one lady misses it, and so do I. 

Lessons for Juniors

     Should every kid have a set of golf clubs? Yep. Should every youngster learn how to play golf  correctly. Yes, again. It's been my experience that every golfer needs help with fundamentals at the outset. You're a fool if you think you can teach yourself this game. 

    Get your child a set of sticks, but more importantly, get the kid some lessons -- perhaps as a Christmas present. 




    A Poem for Older Golfers

     There's a group of golfing men

     Who will never see 80 again.

     A bunch who will never shoot 80 again.

     They followed Snead and Ben, 

     And are past four score and ten.

     But they keep on playing for a happy day when 

     Theyll somehow shoot 80 again. 

     It's doubtful though -- but who's to  know.






Redlands' Holden wins NCAA Div. III Championship; Texas' Shreiner University wins team title

      Bobby Holden, a junior at Redlands from Simi Valley, won the NCAA Division III Individual Championship Friday with a 9-under-par 279 total at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.  Holden (71-69-69-70) was the only player in the field under par as he won going away by nine strokes over runner-up Cheyne Kendell (288) of Schreiner University, the Division III NCAA champion. Holden posted only one bogey in the final three days at the East Course (par 72, 7,200 yards) after an opening day 71 on the easier West Course (6,700 yards).

     Schreiner, a private school in central Texas northeast of San Antonio, posted 1185 to win by five strokes over runner-up Oglethorpe (1190). Redlands, with Holden leading the way, finished third at 1192, only seven off the champion's pace. The University of La Verne made its 14th trip to the nationals and finished tied for sixth (1204). The third school from the SCIAC to make the finals, Claremont Mudd Scripps, fininshed 20th in the field of 41. 

CMS, however, in with 605 after two days, missed took four strokes too many and missed the cut which lopped off everyone except the leading 14. 

 Area golfers advance to CIF Central finals

     Six golfers from Inland Valley schools will be playing in the CIF Central Individual tournament on May 27. 

     Two Diamond Bar standouts, Dean Sakata (68) and Sahith Theegala (71), were among the top 20 finishers in the CIF Central Individual tournament Monday at Canyon Crest Country Club. Sakata finished second to medalist Aaron Wise of Santiago, who shot a 67. 

     Upland's Conner Davis tied for third with Theegala with a 71. Redlands' KK Limbhasut advanced with a 72 along with two Ontario Christian players, Shawn Tsai and vu Chaun Hsiang, both in with 74s. 

      The CIF Individual Central shootout is scheduled for Tuesday, May 27 at Mission Hills Country Club. 

SCIAC champ CMS heads for the NCAA Div. III finals, along with La Verne and Redlands

     You get the impression that Coach Bim Jollymour and his 2014 SCIAC championship team, the Claremont Mudd Scripps Stags, boarded their plane Saturday morning brimming with confidence as they headed for the NCAA Division III's final 72 holes.

     "If we don't win it," Jollymour in his 14th year at the CMS helm,  says, "we're going to scare up a world of trouble for the other teams."  CMS, the University of La Verne, and Redlands from the SCIAC are sending five-man teams to Greensboro, N.C. to compete in the nationals May 13--16 at Grandover Resort's two courses, the easier 6,700-yard East Course and the West which will play to 7,200 yards. Forty-one teams will join the competition, along with five selected individual players.

      "This is our third straight trip to the nationals," Jollymour said Friday. "We finished in the top ten in both 2012 and 2013, and this year's team has more depth than either of those teams. We're due."

     No team from the SCIAC has ever won the national championship, although La Verne, which will be making its 14th appearance in the finals, finished second twice, in 2007 and 2009.

  CMS won the conference championship in late April, edging both La Verne and Redlands in the final tournament amid blustery winds at Beaumont's tough Oak Valley Golf Course. The Stags' standout senior, Bradley Shigezawa, won the individual title with a four under par 212 (68-69-75) with Redlands'  Bobby Holden (222) finishing second and La Verne's Alex Spencer third (223).

      With Shigezawa leading the way, Jollymour also will be counting on senior Jordan Stein, junior Ben Ho, and sophomores Kethen Reddy and Joshua Beck to be in top form in North Carolina.  "We're going to play practice rounds Sunday and Monday," Jollymour says. "Then on Tuesday, we start playing for all the marbles.  We definitely will be ready."

Beman worried about the future of golf

       Deane Beman, the PGA Tour director for 20 years from 1974 to 1994, is rightfully concerned about the future of golf -- professional and amateur. We all are. Beman helped to start the Players Championship when he was commissioner and retains a genuine interest in the future of golf. 

       Beman, who played 69 Seniors events after retiring from his PGA Tour duties, says "The new courses are too long and too hard." The game is taking too long to play and is becmoming too expensive, according to Beman who recently sat down with host David Faherty and expressed his views. Modern technology hasn't really helped to make golf more attractive to the average person, Beman notes. 

       Beman says he continually looks for ways to improve the sport to make it more enjoyble and playable.

       As a player, Beman was a relatively short hitter who won four PGA Tour tournaments and nine amateur championships.  "I was skinny and only 5-7 and had to do something special," he says. "I would write down every shot I made -- even in practice -- at the end of the day -- and work hard on shots that needed attention. I also was one of the first to walk off each hole of the course before tournaments. I told Jack Nicklaus how I did it, and then he too started walking off every course."

Perez, 85, almost shoots his age

       Louie Perez of La Verne is getting closer to shooting his age. Perez, who annually plays in the Inland Valley Amataeur Championship despite his age (he'll be 86 on May 26), tees off every Thursday at San Dimas Golf Course in an 18 hole seniors tournament. 

      Perez, sporting a 23 handicap, fired a nifty 87 recently over the challenging San Dimas layout which is in outstanding condition these days, complete with lightning fast greens and neatly manicured fairways. "I missed my age by two shots, but it was a good round," says Perez. "I came in with a net 64. I'll take that any day."

      Perez retains his love for golf. He's on duty every Sunday as a volunteer aide every Sunday at San Dimas. 


Baty schedules Chino High tournament to raise funds for football

    Jim Baty, head football coach at Chino High School, has announed that the inaugural golf tournament to raise funds for the school's up-and-coming football prograns will be played Wednesday, June 11 at El Prado Golf Course. 

   The shotgun start is set for 1 p.m. with a scramble format. "This is our very first tournament to help our football program," Baty says. "Everyone is welcome, and we're hoping for a great turnout."

   For information, call Baty at 909-224-6099.



 Claremont's Jim Stripling nears 92; He's been hitting golf balls for 80 years since Texas caddy days

    Jim Stripling says he's looking forward to May 13. "It's a special day," he said  this week. "I'll be 92 on that Tuesday, and then on the next day, Wednesday, I'll be playing with the Marshall Canyon seniors again."

    Stripling has been playing golf for some 80 years off and on and sees no reason to stop now. "I'm in good health, and I love the game, and the guys here are fun to be with," Stripling said recently after finishing an 18-hole round in the Marshall weekly tournament.

    "How would you describe Jim's swing?" I asked Paul Layman of La Verne, one of the scorekeepers for the Wednesday shootouts. "Oh, it's fluid, smooth," said Layman with a smile. "Yeah," the other guys in the clubhouse agreed. "It's a good swing and it keeps Jim going nice and straight."

     "My only problem though," says Stripling, a longtime Claremont residnt, "is that I get tired on the second nine. I play the front nine pretty well, and then I struggle on the back. I always have fun though."

     Stripling started his golf-playing days at Sulphur Springs Country Club in northeast Texas in 1934 when he was 12. "I was caddying for 25 cents a round during the Great Depression," he says. "Not much money, but we got to play at the country club all day on Mondays. I learned to play then."

     A few years later Stripling found himself as a U.S. Marine slogging through the steaming jungles of Guadalcanal and later Bougainville in the Pacific. "We were the first unit there at Guadalcanal, and we stayed in the Pacific for six months," he said. "By the time we were sent back to the states, most of the guys had been killed, or wounded, or had malaria."

     Later, he was shipped out to New Zealand. "It was odd," he says. "I had a chance to play golf there -- always with women only. All the men were in the service."

     Stripling has been playing golf at Marshall Canyon in La Verne for more than 30 years. "I helped organize this seniors group way back in 1987 and they're still going strong, as you can see," he says. Along the way, he has served as club historian, handicap chairman, and tournament official for the men's club.

     He also served as handicap director for the Inland Valley Amateur Championship for more than 20 years, settling "sandbagging" problems quickly and efficiently. In the early days of the tournament, an out-of-state player won his flight three years in a row with what appeared to be an inflated handicap.  Stripling immediately did the detective work necessary, halted the cheating and ran a "tight handicap ship" for two decades. 

     Nineteen old-timers showed up recently for the weekly seniors round. They'll all be there  again -- plus a few more -- on the first Wednesday (May 14), one day after his 92nd birthday. Stripling figures to play 18 again with his pals and then cut the birthday cake amid cheers in the convivial clubhous.


   Jackie Amsler, Inland Valley hostess, honored for community service 

        We add our congratulations to Jackie Amsler who recently was named Super Star for community service by  the Rancho Cucamonga Service Countil for Excellence. Southland golfers will recall that Jackie has served as No. 1 hostess for more than 20 Inland Valley Amateur championships. Last August, as usual, she was on duty smiling, hugging and welcoming golfers to the 29th Valley Amateur at El Prado Golf Course in Chino and Red Hill Country Club.

        "You want a good tournament," hackers and scratch players say, "get Jackie as your hestess and you'll be a success."

         For Jackie, it's a win-win situation. "I love the tournament and the golfers who play in it," she says. "I look forward to it each year and seeing old friends and making new ones."

         She began helping to organize and manage the Valley Championship in the 1990s when she was public relations director for the Inland Valley Dailly Bulletin, the tournament sponsor at the time.  "The fun continues year after year," Jackie says, "and golfers always need encouragement. That's my job."

Bruce Thompson, Mike Green Open Their new golf website

      Here we go again. Local golf coverage with all the scores, tournaments, human interest stories, and achievements are back for golf lovers of all ages who are fascinated with great shots and good news at 18 area courses.

   The new website, called simply "MyCommunityGolf.Com," is up and running, springing into action this April if you will.  It's presented and led by two local, well known golf teachers who are on top of everything that happens in the area: the longtime Claremont teaching professional Bruce Thompson, and his sidekick Mike Green of Claremont who played for Damien High School, Citrus College and Cal State Fullerton.

     Thompson, is the valley's popular "Pied Piper" who brought thousands of juniors and adults into the world of golf  with lessons and clinics at Claremont Golf Course for more than 20 years. After the executive Claremont course closed in December, Thompson moved his indidivual and group lessons to Marshall Canyon Golf Course in La Verne. He can be contacted at 909-239-6732 or Bruce@mycommunitygolf.com Thompson "still has the game" too, holding his own in Southern California PGA senior events throughout the Southland.

      Green, who currently teaches golf classes and coaches the women's golf team at Mt. San Antonio College, played on championship teams at Damien from 1979--81 and at Citrus College in '82 and '83.

    With help from coaches, club members, and tournament directors, Thompson and Green figure to fill the new and upcoming website with information, facts, stories, results, and up-to-date wondrous golf shots of all kinds. They'll cover all the men's and ladies' results in the valley, along with the high schools  and charity tournaments. In short, it'll be a fun-to-read website promoting the wonderful world of golf.

    I'll be helping out with regular "Tee to Cup" columns for those who are steadfast news-seekers who like to see names in the news. We'll be talking about folks like Chuck Jorgensen, the USGA rules expert out of Marshall Canyon; Ron Capps, Ayala High School's informative golf coach; John Nacey of Temecula, who continues his courageous battle with cancer; Fontana's Andrew Roque and his quest for professional glory, and all that's happening at both public and private courses. Did you know, for instance, that Claremont's WWII Marine Jim Stripling plays every Wednesday as he heads for his 92nd birthday in May?

    And, lest we forget, it's tournament time again as many, many charity events are on the calendar.  Bruce and Mike would like to report on every one; thus, adding to the field and to the overall donation.

   So, hold onto your golf caps, the new website will sparkle, shine and illuminate all that's great about  valley (and Southland) golf.

Former Red Hill champion Emily Borba passes away at 86

     The vallley lost a "wonderful" golfer on April 4 when Emily Borba passed away at age 86. Emily was petite but she could nail a golf ball and keep it in the fairway. Folks who played Red Hill Country Club in the 70s and 80s remember her at the club champion seven times -- in 1977 and then from 1981 through '86.

    Emily most likely would have won more Red Hill titles but she and her husband John moved to Bermuda Dunes after her seventh championship. She loved golf and continued to play excellently at Bermuda Dunes and had fun annually volunteering for duty at the Bob Hope Classic. 

   Services were held at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Upland on April 10.