Mesa Verde Country Club ladies’ club champion Kim Izzi likes to think of Heidi Wright-Tennyson, the club’s head golf professional, as her lucky charm.
On Wright-Tennyson’s first day on the job back in January 2018, Izzi recorded her first hole-in-one.
She had another day to remember in the presence of Wright-Tennyson on Thursday.
Izzi shot an eight-under-par 63 to lead host Mesa Verde to an 11-stroke victory over Big Canyon in the 21st annual Jones Cup community golf tournament.
“I think on No. 10, I hit it thin over the green, and I made like a 30-footer for birdie, so that’s when I was like, ‘This is an out-of-body experience,’” Izzi recalled of the round.
She went on to birdie the following three holes, capping a nine-birdie afternoon.
“They just kept going in,” Izzi said. “That’s the lowest round I’ve ever shot, but I’ve been putting for hours in preparation for this because I did not want to let my team down this year.”
The Mesa Verde team, which also included club professional Mike Fergin, men’s champion Tim Beans and senior champion Mitch Allenspach, shot 17 under par on the round in the two-best ball format.
Big Canyon was six under. Shady Canyon, which was the defending champion, and Santa Ana tied for third at even, and Newport Beach was one over par.
Wright-Tennyson began to celebrate with her hands in the air as she walked onto the green at No. 18 in front of the clubhouse, where the Mesa Verde players received a round of applause from their fellow club members.
Moments later, Fergin gave them further reason to cheer. His shot from the front lip of the green tracked the pin on the other side for a two-shot birdie. Allenspach also birdied the hole.
“That was forever,” Wright-Tennyson said of Fergin’s closing shot. “That was another one. I think I saw more length of made putts today in one round by a group of people than I have in a long time.”
Mesa Verde picked up its seventh Jones Cup victory and its first without the revered Tom Sargent, who served as captain for the club for all of its previous six wins in the tournament. The Costa Mesa-based country club won for the first time since 2017, when it won at home in Sargent’s final Jones Cup.
Three of the newly-minted champions — Izzi, Fergin and Allenspach — also competed for Mesa Verde in the 2017 victory.
More memorable moments were made on the course by the visiting clubs. Santa Ana club professional Nick Kumpis made eagle with a 40-foot putt from the edge of the green on No. 13.
“It was probably about a 40-foot putt, and [Santa Ana captain] Geoff [Cochrane] had hit a putt just to the left of me, and it broke a little bit at the end to the left, and so that kind of helped with the read a little bit,” Kumpis said. “It just was like, ‘Hey, just try to get it there.’ You get on the green in two and give yourself a chance and thank goodness I made the putt.”
Shady Canyon captain Brian Gunson said that the preparation leading up to the Jones Cup “feels like Christmas time,” and he left feeling good about the finish. Players who finish with a birdie on the par-three No. 18 are encouraged to ring a bell before walking back up to the clubhouse.
“I’ve played here many, many times,” Gunson said after he birdied No. 18. “Never made a two on the last. I’m behind the green here, and everyone is shouting, ‘Ring the bell. Ring the bell.’ At least I finished on a high note.”
Two-best ball format aside, Big Canyon’s quintet played bogey-free golf through the front nine.
“The front nine, we played well,” Big Canyon captain Robert Pang said. “We missed a couple here and there, but we all struck it well. We had our chances. That’s all you can really ask for.
“It was a fun day. I’m glad we were able to play the Jones Cup, and Heidi and Mesa Verde were gracious enough to open their home to us and let us keep the tradition going. That was the main thing about this year, especially with everything that is going on now.”
Newport Beach men’s champion George Schmidt managed a team-best two birdies while sporting some unorthodox mechanics. He had more moving parts than usual off the tee, and on a chip shot on No. 9, he choked up on his club below the grip.
“I played baseball, and I copied Pete Rose’s baseball swing for playing baseball,” Schmidt said of where he learned how to golf. “When I started playing golf, all I did is just drop my hands down and do the same thing that I did playing baseball, which is Pete Rose’s swing.”
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