U.S. Women’s Open: BrilesHinton leads after 66/C3 As should be expected of a golf tournament sponsored by a supermarket chain, there is an abundance of choices available when shopping for a favorite to win the 1995 Rosauers Open.
The richest event in the Pacific Northwest PGA Section ($125,000 purse) tees off today at Indian Canyon Golf Course and continues through Sunday.
In the two-for-one department, for instance, is Chris Mitchell, the Sun Dance Golf Course pro and the only golfer to have two Rosauers titles on his resume.
Fresh in from the pharmacy department, meanwhile, is host pro Gary Lindeblad, who has mended broken ribs of mysterious origin and is back atop his game (as an 8-under 64 in Wednesday’s pro-am testifies).
The hair-care section features a special on Michael Combs, who flattened the field in last week’s Washington Trust Bank Lilac Open at The Fairways Golf Course.
Yard-care? How about The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course pro Mark Gardner, considered by some the most talented player in the section.
But when it comes time to bag the $12,000 winner’s check on Sunday afternoon, it might be defending champ Greg Whisman who will be asked if he wants to take the dough home in paper or plastic.
Whisman, a former PGA Tour member (1991 and 1993, owner of the course record of 62 at Castle Pines), shot to the lead in last year’s Rosauers with an opening-round 65 and then fought off a charge from Keith Williams and Greg McMillan to capture a two-stroke win.
“Winning it last year should at least help me get through it this year,” Whisman said.
On the putting green today, Whisman said he hasn’t been able to find much consistency on the Nike Tour.
“So this is kind of a break for me,” he said. “Not that this isn’t going to be great competition, but it’s at least a little bit away from the grind.”
Last year, the long-ball hitter challenged the narrow fairways off the tee.
“I gambled a lot last year from tee to green,” he said. “I haven’t decided if I’m going to gamble or not this time. There’s a lot of holes out here where you can pull the driver out and gamble with it.”
Whisman won the war of attrition in the final round, overcoming a twostroke deficit on the final nine simply by shooting even par.
“This year will be the same; whoever wins it will have to play good on the last nine holes,” Whisman said.
“If he’s back, he’s got to be on the list of favorites,” Mitchell said of Whisman. “I didn’t think we were going to let him back - he’s too good.”
Judging from recent performances, Jeff Coston of Semiahmoo should contend for the title.
Coston won the recent Sunriver Oregon Open by seven strokes over Mark Rohde of Valley View. Coston, on the PGA Tour in 1985, 1988 and 1989, has been seeing action on the Nike Tour.
“He probably has more real tournament experience than anybody in the field,” Lindeblad said of Coston.
It would seem that Lindeblad would have a home-course advantage, but Wednesday’s first round of the pro-am was the first time he’s played the Canyon since early April because of his rib injury.
“I think I’m going to do fairly well,” Lindeblad said. “I’m hitting it well and if I’m putting it I think I can be close.”
Uncharacteristically, Mitchell failed to contend for the Lilac title, a championship he’s claimed six times.
“I’ve been in a bit of a slump, to tell you the truth,” Mitchell said Wednesday, before grabbing his driver and planting his tee ball about 20 feet from the pin on the par-4 No. 17. “I’m not hitting it bad, not putting so bad, but I’m shooting 70 when it seems like it should be a 67. Do that a couple times and you’re out of the tournament.”
Among others, Mitchell suggested that Pat Fitzsimons could be another who is playing well enough to make a strong run at the championship. Fitzsimons finished four strokes back last year, despite a dismal 75 in the opening round.
Sahalee’s Rick Acton, a masterful putter with great success in the section, was also within five strokes of Whisman last year.
Gardner, meanwhile, sees his success resting with his putter. “If I can get three rounds out of it, I’ll be OK.”
The Canyon itself, with its tight fairways and steep but slow greens, appears ready for the challenge.
“The course is the best I’ve ever seen it and I’ve played it since I was 14 or 15,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s a matter of paying attention to detail - the cut of the greens and fairways, the maintenance of the bunkers. The overall picture is really, really good.”
Tournament proceeds benefit the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
Tee times start at 7:30 a.m. After Saturday’s round, the field will be cut to the top 65 pros and include any amateur bettering that cut-off total.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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