On the final stroke of the pro-am Straight Down Fall Classic on Sunday, Jason Gore sunk his final birdie and walked off the 18th green to the sound of a cheering crowd at San Luis Obispo Country Club.
Gore, the 2005 Nationwide Tour Player of the Year, and partner Kevin Marsh went into the second round down one shot but came out with a decisive five-stroke win and a total of 126.
“The first day, we got off to a great start and we just kept it going,” Marsh said. “And then today, we just got on a run, like three, four, five, six, seven, eight. I think we birdied five holes in a row, and then Jason made a great birdie on nine to finish off the front. Then he birdied 10 and 11, and we just kind of kept it going.”
Gore and Marsh were college roommates and teammates on the Pepperdine golf team, and have used this two-man, best-ball tournament to reunite before.
They last played in the Straight Down Fall Classic in 2008, when they were co-champions.
“The people are the best part about the tournament,” Gore said. “The people who run it, the people who come play in it; it’s fun. We don’t get to play golf for fun that much being out there on the road, but coming to these things, it’s so much fun to play and see old friends and just have a good time. Golf’s almost secondary to being around your boys.”
Saturday’s leaders, Paul Stankowski and Brad Payne, fell into a three-way tie at 131 with former Masters winner Fred Couples and Brad Shaw, and Mark Madsen and Brent Brockermeyer.
“I didn’t hit the ball very well from the start,” Stankowski said. “My partner didn’t as well. We struggled for pars but we hung on and birdied eight and nine to get back within striking range and just went flat. We did not make a birdie after number 11.”
One of the challenges of the San Luis Obispo Country Club course is the fast greens, and golfers often say the key to success is hitting above the hole so they can putt more aggressively.
Roger Tambellini, an Atascadero High graduate, and partner Mark Nicoletti were the top team with local ties. Tambellini and Nicoletti were tied for the sixth-best score at 137.
Former Paso Robles High and Cal Poly standout Travis Bertoni and his partner, Marshall Williams, were right below Tambellini on the leaderboard with a 138.
Cal Poly golf head coach Scott Cartwright and partner Ed Cuff finished 15 shots back in an eight-way tie.
San Luis Obispo native Loren Roberts and Justin Hendrix were also part of that eight-way tie at 141.
The ties between the community and the Straight Down Fall Classic go beyond the opportunity for spectators to watch familiar faces.
The tournament raises money for the ALS Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps fund research for Lou Gehrig’s Disease and provide care to those living with the condition.
“It keeps growing every year,” said Michael Rowley, founder of Straight Down. “I mean, now these players come from all over the world to come here and play. We have some of the best players in the world coming in, and we have captain of the Presidents Cup, Fred Couples, here. We have touring players and champion players.”