Stockton’s Tira wins Modesto City Golf Championship in sudden death

jcortez@modbee.comJune 8, 2014 

A triple bogey on the 18th hole of the Modesto City Golf Championship wasn’t enough to dethrone reigning champ Raymon Tira.

The 19-year-old Chico State student overcame a 7 on the final hole of regulation, which pushed his score from 2 under par to 1 over for the round, and won on the first hole of sudden death against Turlock’s Jesse Contreras on Sunday at Creekside Golf Club.

Tira and Contreras found the rough to the left of the fairway with their tee shots. From there, however, Tira hit a 5-iron from 218 yards out to the top of a ridge just off the green, some 50 feet from the cup. From there, he chipped to within 6 inches and tapped in for birdie.

Contreras, meanwhile, faced a 6-footer for birdie, but his putt just slid past the hole.

“I thought I hit a pretty good putt,” said Contreras, a 2003 graduate of Turlock High School who went on to play at Cal State Stanislaus. “I was aiming left-center, but I hit it left-edge and it just never came back. But it was fun. I’m happy with my rounds.”

Tira must have been pleased with his rounds – until the 18th. Tira and Turlock’s Tom Clark were the first-round co-leaders with 68s at Dryden; Oakdale’s Kenny Verschelden was second with a first-round 69.

Tira opened his round Sunday with two birdies but gave one back on the next hole. After a string a five pars, he bogeyed No. 9 and made the turn with an even 36. He birdied No. 12 – Verschelden also birdied when he chipped in from about 25 yards off the green – and No. 13 to move to 2 under and looked to be on cruise control.

“I was feeling pretty confident after that,” said Tira, a 2012 graduate of St. Mary’s High School who is taking a year off from golf to focus on his grades.

So, what happened on the 18th?

“I was trying to hit a fade,” Tira said. “It started too far right and took a hard kick into the water. I try never to get too upset and just focus on the next shot and try to make it better.”

It wasn’t, bouncing over the green and again finding water.

“I was starting to think about it a little bit more,” Tira said. “I just wanted the round to be over.”

He put his next shot on the green and two-putted.

Modesto’s Pat Burda, who finished in third (72-70) a stroke behind Tira and Contreras, was 1 under after 12 holes. But he needed three putts from within 25 feet on the 13th, which kept him out of the playoff. He made a charge at the end with birdies on 16 and 18.

Burda said the temperature, which neared 100 degrees, was a factor for the competitors.

“I don’t think we’re used to this kind of heat in June,” Burda said. “We’re used to it in August, when we’ve had a few months to adjust, but it kind of snuck up on us (Sunday).”

With a 78 at Dryden, Jane Findarle won her third women’s championship with a two-day total of 150, 10 shots better than her nearest competitor, Susan Krogness (76-84-160).

“Any time you get a win, you have to be happy about that,” said Findarle, who also won the event in 2008 and 2009. “I’m happy with the way I struck the ball. I hit a lot of fairways and greens, but I just didn’t make any putts.”

Jessica Ringer was the women’s net-score winner with a 69-75-144.

Kenny Webb won the Senior Championship Flight with matching 71s for a 142 total. Steve Anderson (76-72-148) was victorious in the first flight, Jimmy Marroquin (71-86-157) won the second flight, Martin Solano (80-89-169) took the third flight, and Bill Donaldson (75-80-155) won the Senior handicap flight. Don Jordan (64-70-134) was low net in the Senior handicap flight.

Bee staff writer Joe Cortez can be reached at jcortez@modbee.com or (209) 578-2380. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeePreps.

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