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Published: Tuesday, 7/18/2006

Farr MVPs: grounds crew

MARK Mixdorf didn't compete in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic golf tournament but the superintendent at Highland Meadows Golf Club surely deserves the title of most valuable player.

Working tirelessly against the onslaught of last week's torrential rains, Mr. Mixdorf marshalled the herculean grounds-keeping effort that allowed the tournament to be played within the regulation four days, as golfers and persevering spectators wondered what biblical disaster might be coming next.

What some observers dubbed "the miracle at the Meadows" allowed the Farr to conclude Sunday evening before a nationwide ESPN2 television audience and a somewhat diminished crowd sweltering in 95-degree heat.

The three-hole playoff that led to Mi Hyun Kim's birdie putt and come-from-behind victory over LPGA glamour girl Natalie Gulbis added an exclamation point to the 22nd rendition of the Toledo area's signature sports event.

At one point, though, after deluges from the sky on Wednesday and Friday made Ten Mile Creek a raging torrent through and over the Sylvania course, there was considerable doubt as to whether the tournament could be played at all, much less completed on schedule.

But Mr. Mixdorf mustered his force of able grounds keepers, generously aided by staff from several other area courses, into an around-the-clock work-o-rama in which water was pumped out of sand traps and squeegeed from fairways as well as greens to make the course playable.

They even brought in scaffolding to provide a makeshift pedestrian bridge over the flooded first fairway before the start of the third round.

The result presented some obstacles for the hardy spectators but, in the end, the course was not only in professional condition but looked lush and luxuriant for television viewers locked onto the tournament's building drama.

The combination of adversity in the competition and behind the scenes converged in an exciting conclusion that might not have been possible were it not for the efforts of Mr. Mixdorf, the Highland Meadows grounds staff, workers from other courses, and the legions of volunteers that make the Farr a pleasure to attend year in and year out.

As always, dedicated homeboy Jamie Farr lent a gracious presence to his namesake event. Coupled with the Triple A baseball All-Star game a few days earlier, Toledo has sparkled brighter than ever this summer on the American sports horizon.

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