Mid-Am gives Caves Valley big stamp of approval

September 15, 1995|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

ENDICOTT, N.Y. — From Day 1, when Caves Valley Golf Club was still a hopeful dream for some, perhaps an impossible one for others, the intent of club president Les Disharoon, the big dreamer among the founders, was to do everything possible to promote and accommodate the world of amateur golf.

There is no doubt that desire has been accomplished in this, the club's fifth year. One only has to ask the officials and players assembled for the 15th annual U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, which begins a six-day run tomorrow.

Tony Zirpoli has been a USGA staff member for 16 years, including the last dozen as a major role player in U.S. Opens, Senior Opens, Amateurs and Mid-Amateurs, and yesterday he called on that experience in saying: "The best pure golf course the Mid-Am has had was Prairie Dunes [in Hutchinson, Kan.), but here is as good as any we've had when you consider everything."

This was late afternoon, under a warm sun, and from the back of the clubhouse, looking over the course to a distant ridge, with no houses in sight, it was easy to see how players from across the country, using the new driving range and putting green below, would think everything had been done to accommodate them.

"The building of Caves Valley was an economic development project of the Baltimore business community," Disharoon said later, "and one of its missions was to build a national club for members and guests that would attract national players [23 players in the field are Caves Valley members].

"Another mission was our desire to host a national championship, one we wanted to make better than any other. In the years to come, we will be looking at hosting others -- the U.S. Amateur, the Women's Amateur, Walker Cup and the three Opens."

Although not unique, it is unusual that such a young club would be invited to host a championship. The initial contact four years ago was an invitation from Reg Murphy, a Caves Valley member and then chairman of the USGA championship committee, for other USGA officials to come and look at the club.

There were other visits, and eventually, two years ago, a successful bid was made for the '95 Mid-Amateur, especially noteworthy as it is the centennial of the USGA, and Murphy is its current president.

Until last year, despite a steady increase in entries for this event, only 150 players qualified for the championship and all play was at one site.

"Two years ago was the turn-around for the championship," Zirpoli continued. "We were at the point where it was more difficult to qualify for the Mid-Am than the Amateur.

"That was our thinking in going to two courses, but we knew it would be more difficult to run, so we limited the field to 240 players. We didn't want to force it, but it ran so smoothly, we decided to go to 264 players this year. I think that's the right number -- the maximum for this late in the year, considering the daylight hours."

B.C. Open

ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Skip Kendall took time to catch his breath. Now, the rest of the B.C. Open field that has to catch Kendall.

The second-year tour pro shot a 66 in yesterday's opening round at the En-Joie Golf Course, tying Steve Lowery for the lead after 18 holes.

It was Kendall's best round of golf since he shot a 65 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in mid-February. He credited his success to some advice he received this week from a psychophysiologist, who gave him some breathing exercises.

"I get up to the first tee in the first round and I turn into a crazy man," said Kendall, of Palm Harbor, Fla.

"My arousal level goes from where it should be a 5 to about a 10. You may not notice it outwardly, but inside I'm just churning. One little bad bounce happens out there and there goes the attitude," he said.

The breathing exercises relaxed Kendall, who birdied four of his last six holes, including three in a row.

Nearly 50 golfers were within three strokes of the leaders in the race for the $180,000 first-place purse.

Like Kendall, Lowery used a strong finish to move ahead of the pack. Lowery, with six top 10 finishes this year but no wins, started on the backside of the par-71 course and was 1-under after nine holes. He moved into the top spot with four birdies on the front nine.

"I have played solid this year. I just haven't had that one week where I could really finish it off," said Lowery, of Orlando, Fla., whose only tour victory was the 1994 Sprint International.

LPGA Safeco

KENT, Wash.

KENT, Wash. -- Mitzi Edge is in position to win her first LPGA tour event because she's having fun playing golf.

Edge, who has yet to win in 11 years on the tour, shot a 5-under-par 67 yesterday to take a surprising first-round lead at the $500,000 Safeco Classic.

The University of Georgia graduate birdied five of her last seven holes, including one with a 30-foot putt.

"It was one of those days where it was just fun to play," said Edge, 35, of Augusta, Ga. "I shot a 67 last week on Saturday and VTC I gained a little confidence from that."

Edge tied for 22nd at last weekend's tournament, the LPGA PING in Portland, Ore.

Her best career finish was a tie for second at the Ocean State Open in 1988. Her top finish in 21 tournaments this year was a seventh place in March. She has missed the cut in nine of the 21 events in 1995.

Seven golfers were one stroke back, including last week's winner, Alison Nicholas, and two-time Safeco champ Patty Sheehan.

Also shooting 68 on the Meridian Valley Country Club course were Michelle Mackall, Jane Geddes, Liselotte Neumann, Karen Lunn and Jenny Lidback. Laura Davies led a group of three golfers at 69.

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