Twiggs Is New SCGA Champ

The 82nd Southern California Golf Assn. Championship could easily have been a tournament of champions. There were six former SCGA titleholders in the running for the 1981 crown at Stardust CC.

But when the awards were presented, a new winner was crowned. Greg Twiggs, a 20-year-old San Diego State senior from La Jolla, is the new Champion.

Twiggs, who plays with the West Coast Amateur G.A., sank a 15-foot putt for par on the 219-yard final hole for a 285 total, and then watched Jeff Hart of Lomas Santa Fee CC miss a five-foot par putt his — his 285th stroke, and tap the final putt for second place. Twiggs had rounds of 68-70-72-75—285 and Hart carded 70-69-70-77—286.

Hart, the 1979 SCGA champion, had begun the day with a one-stroke lead over Twiggs, but neither was able to control the round which closely resembled match play. Twiggs was longer off the tees by 20 to 40 yards and Hart was usually more accurate to the greens, but Hart's putter was cold.

The former champion, who lost a lead and the championship in the final holes last year, was one stroke up on Twiggs going to the 17th hole this year. There he lipped a short par putt to put the "match" level.

On the final hole, Hart's tee shot was long and wide on the green — though some 60 feet from the hole. Twiggs pulled a 1-iron 35 yards wide of the green and had to pitch back. When his wedge shot settled, he needed a 15-foot putt for par.

Hart's lag slid five feet past the hole and he waited for the challenger to putt.

"I've seen that putt before," explained Twiggs. He plays regularly at Stardust. "it was a right-breaking putt and it died right in the hole."

Hart missed his five-foot comeback putt, and the 82nd SCGA Amateur was history.

Hart, a USC senior from Solana Beach, had lost confidence in his putter. "I didn't have a bit (of confidence)," he explained. "I never once felt I was going to put the ball in the hole. It's a terrible feeling."

Twiggs, whose biggest precious win had been the Long Beach City Championship in 1980, earned himself an invitation to join the SCGA representatives in the PCGA championship held Aug. 10-14 at Los Angeles CC.

He showed his power in the opening two rounds at Stardust, reaching six of eight par-5 holes in two shots. He two-putted each for birdies and got a birdie on one of the other par-5s with a chip and a putt.

His interest in golf was kindled when Twiggs was nine years old. His father, Reg, a filmmaker, was shooting a movie "Jack Nicklaus on Golf" at La Quinta and the youngster was there.

"Greg was fascinated watching Jack hit every shot for three days... I think seeing Nicklaus has been his inspiration," Greg's father explained.

If he was inspired by Nicklaus, he comes by his athletic coordination naturally. His mother, the former Lenora Wall, ran the sprints and 440-yard relay for Canada in the London and Helsinki Olympics in 1948 and 1952.

Before moving to La Jolla, Greg and his parents lived in Los Angeles, where his first golf instruction was in Eddie Merrins' junior program at Bel-Air.

He began his golf as a 10-year-old with a set of cut-down clubs given to him by Bob Gardner, winner of the 1946 SCGA Championship. Greg won the Bel-Air junior championship several times and the Western League crown twice while attending University High School in Los Angeles.

The other former SCGA champions were strung back in the field.

Los Angeles CC's Lee Davis finished two strokes off the pace in fourth place at 73-73-69-72—287. He had won the event in 1975.

Tied with Davis with rounds of 73-73-69-72—287 was 17-year-old Derek Goldstein of Brentwood, who took third place on a matching of cards. Goldstein, earlier in the week, had broken his putter in the opening round and two-putted each of the last four holes with his driver.

Maybe he should have used his driver to putt on the 190-yard seventh hole in the final round. He four-putted from about 15-feet. Despite the momentary lapse, he hung in the battle but couldn't overtake the leader.

Three strokes behind the winner with 288 totals were: Steve Brant of Miramar GC; Steve Pate of Birnam Wood; and Chris Voges of Braemar. Voges' 67 on the final day was the low round of the championship.

How did the other former champions fare?

Jon (Bud) Ardell, 1980 winner from Bakersfield CC, was tied for 12th place at 291, and Ted Richards of Bel-Air, who won in 1954 and 1961, was four strokes back at 295.

Brian Gaddy, the 1978 champion from Annandale CC, suffered the misfortune of being disqualified after the third round. He discovered he had signed a card with a wrong score and reported his error. Gaddy had a 74 in the third round and signed for a 73.

Another former champion, Ben Alyea of Rancho Park GC who won in 1960, had rounds of 77-81—158 and failed to make the finals.

Doug Clarke of La Jolla CC, who won in 1977 at his home club, the only other time the championship was staged in the San Diego area, was among the spectators for the final round. Clarke, a student at Stanford and former member of the Cardinal golf team, will be an assistant in the golf program at Stanford during the coming year.

The tournament will be a memorable one for John Burckle of Mesa Verde CC. He had a hole-in-one on the 164-yard fifth hole. Burckle hit his 6-iron about four feet to the right of the hole and it spun back into the cup.

Richards at age 59 and the CGA and SCGA senior champion, was the oldest contestant in the final 34 of the championship field. But it was not quite the young man's event it has sometimes been. Thirteen of the final 34 players were 25 years old or older.

And there were some older golfers in the handicap flights. One of them, John Gable, a 70-year-old senior from Soboba Spring CC, placed fifth in the Secretary's Flight. Gable, an 18-handicapper, had nets of 72-67-139.

Robert Flanagan, a 7-handicapper from Meadowlark GC, won the President's Flight with a net 66-66—132. Donald Robbins, a 12-handicapper from Valencia GC, led the Vice President's Flight with a net 68-66-134. Gunnar Anderson, a 15-handicapper from Quail Lake, was tops in the Secretary's Flight with a 68-67—135.

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