Ron Agostini

Burda picks on own age at NorCal tournament

Beating the seniors may not be as sexy as outfoxing the younger generation, but Modesto amateur Jeff Burda finds new rewards.

"It gets old hearing, 'You're away, sir,' " said Burda, 54, in reference to his many tournaments against younger foes. "Now (against the seniors), I get to tell them that."

Burda, a Modesto bank president, padded his already impressive résumé Tuesday with his second consecutive victory in the Senior Northern California Open. Rounds of 70 and 67, the latter featuring a holed 30-foot chip for eagle at the Diablo Grande Legends par-5 15th, left him three shots clear of Reno pro Michael Paul in the NorCal PGA-sanctioned tournament.

The senior club pros don't mind Burda because he doesn't dip into the purse, which totaled $18,000 for this event. And Burda feels more at ease against players closer to his age.

"As long as I don't take their money, they think it's fine," he said.

That said, he's also quite comfortable humbling players who are decades younger. The collegiate stars were amazed last June when Burda claimed medalist honors in U.S. Open Local Qualifying. They shouldn't have been too shocked. The event was staged at Del Rio Country Club, where Burda has won many club championships.

This week, he recovered from a double bogey at the par-4 seventh Monday -- he drove into the hazard -- and soon ignited his steady and strong tee-to-green game.

"I like the golf course a lot and it's good seeing a lot of the guys I know," Burda said. "It's definitely more relaxing not playing against the kids."

Mike Cook of Sonora's Mountain Springs (75-68 -- 143), Saddle Creek's Chris Bitticks (73-70 -- 143) and Spring Creek CC's Glen Stubblefield (73-70 -- 143) tied for sixth.

THOMPSON -- Rob Thompson of Merced and longtime friend Bob Berg of Riverview GC defy the idea that golf is not a team game. They combined to win the NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship last week for the second time in the last three years at Poppy Hills.

The twosome combined for seven birdies en route to a final round 66 and three-round total of 199 (65-68-66), good for a three-stroke win over runners-up and defending champions Mark Miller of Roddy Ranch and Herb Jensen of Del Paso CC.

"Bob played the front side great and then I had to turn it on for the back side," said Thompson, the 2005 NCGA Senior points champion. "We really just know how to read each other."

LORENA -- It's not often the best player in the world plies her trade only an hour's drive away. Such is true at the 11th Longs Drugs Challenge to be held Oct. 4-7 at Danville's Blackhawk CC, where Mexico's Lorena Ochoa tops an impressive field.

The entire top 10 in the LPGA Player of the Year race will be there, along with 11 of the 12 members of the victorious U.S. Solheim Cup team. The field also features Northern California's classy contingent: Los Altos Hills' Juli Inkster, Pleasanton's Paula Creamer, Sacramento-raised Natalie Gulbis, San Leandro's Pat Hurst and San Jose's Christina Kim. Also at Blawkhawk will be U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr, Nabisco winner Morgan Pressel and defending champion Karrie Webb.

The $1.1 million tournament will be held in the East Bay for the second time following its nine-year run in the Sacramento area. For tickets, call 925-725-0148 or visit www.longsdrugschallenge.com.

THE SHAG BAG -- Modesto pro Marc Peterson qualified for the 2008 Canadian Tour with a strong showing last week in a pressure-packed 72-hole tournament at Royal Ashburn GC, Ontario. Peterson, a former All-American at Chico State, placed fifth in a field of 132 (69-72-71-71) to earn one of 27 berths on the mini-tour. ... Players can still sign up for a junior tournament Friday afternoon and Saturday morning at St. Stanislaus Golf. The event is held in memory of the late Larry Keith, a longtime supporter of the practice range and nine-hole course on Crows Landing Road. Call Francis Ip, 538-2828.

HOLE-IN-ONE -- Richard Snell, Winton, 109-yard 12th at Stevinson Ranch, pitching wedge.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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