Team Innova may not have won the top divisions at this week's world championships in Santa Cruz, but we won a lot of the age based divisions. California's Carrie Berlogar ran away with it for the Masters Womens victory. Jim Oates, another California native, won handily in the GM division. He truly owned the division this weekend winning by 20 strokes. Gregg Hosfeld made the finals after an epic seven hole playoff. He climbed back into 3rd place in GM, where he spent most of the week.Anni Kreml was unstoppable in Grandmaster Womens, where she finished far ahead of her rivals.
Peter Shive, who dominated the Senior Grandmasters in his younger years, is proving he may just win more world championships in Legends than his Senior GM titles. Peter has the athletic prowess of someone 15 years his junior. Way to go, Peter!
While Innova may not have won the title in the open division, we have a new phenom in Will Schusterick. Will not only throws big bombs on the course, he's a humble player with the highest level of sportsmanship. Will impressed the crowd with his masterful drives during the final nine proving his USDGC title was no fluke. He closed the gap on the home town favorite and Open winner, Nate Doss.
Also playing well was Josh Anthon who surged in the semifinals with an insane streak of birdies from hole 3 to hole 10 at Pinto Lake. At one point, he was just two strokes off the lead. He got unlucky on hole 14, losing three strokes that he would never regain. Josh has almost always been in the top finishers of the Worlds. With Josh's skills and experience it's not "if" he'll win the Worlds, it's "when".
Among other great finishes from Innova were Steve Brinster (7th), Dave Feldberg (8th) and Devan Owens (10th). Derek Billings had a rough go of the semis and finished in 17th, despite three outstanding rounds, including two days as the leader, we are proud of you, Derek. Innova's Rookie of the Year contenders battled it out, with an important part of the rookie ranking being, best world's finish. David Wiggins Jr. had an outstanding finish, taking him to 11th place, while Ricky Wysocki came in in 21st. Amazing jobs for first year pros! Look out for these guys. They are already rising stars.
Three-Time World Champion, Valarie Jenkins, looked poised to add a fourth title to her impressive resume. She started the semifinals with a two stroke lead over Paige Pierce, and in the first 9 holes, Valarie was up by six strokes. But Paige went on a furious run of five birdies in six holes which closed the gap again. So with it tied again, an errant drive on the second hole of the final nine cost Valarie a crucial two strokes. She would be playing catch up the rest of the round. Last year's Womens Champion, Sarah Stanhope also made the finals, finishing fourth.
The race for the Masters World Champion was won and lost on the steep slopes of De Laveaga. With a three stroke lead after two rounds, Phil Arthur lost eight strokes on his first trip to De La, and three more during the semis. Those eleven strokes would be the deciding factor for Phil. Jay "Yeti" Reading was tied with Phil going into the finals, and finished in third. Jonathan Baldwin, a Santa Cruz local, would take the win. Years of practice on a course like De La is a tough act to follow.