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Published: Monday, 7/28/2008

Ozuk takes TDGA crown

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Jim Ozuk follows through on a shot at the Toledo District Golf Association s Stroke Play Championship at Stone Oak Country Club in Holland. After tying with Kevin Kornowa at 291 after 72 holes, Ozuk, 41, took the title by winning a playoff. Jim Ozuk follows through on a shot at the Toledo District Golf Association s Stroke Play Championship at Stone Oak Country Club in Holland. After tying with Kevin Kornowa at 291 after 72 holes, Ozuk, 41, took the title by winning a playoff.
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Jim Ozuk must await the results of a credit check before he can officially become a member of Stone Oak Country Club.

But he already has passed the credibility test.

Ozuk, who applied to the Holland course on Friday, became somewhat of a star at the club yesterday even though he has yet to use the swimming pool or pay his annual dues.

In a dramatic finish to the Toledo District Golf Association Stroke Play Championship, Ozuk downed five-time champion Kevin Kornowa on the third hole of a playoff after they tied at 7-over 291 after 72 holes.

The relationship between Ozuk, 41, and Stone Oak, couldn t have began any sweeter.

That s why I m joining here, said Ozuk, formerly of Brandywine. I love this place.

His closest competitors won t have the same fond memories of the four-day tournament, particularly of the third hole.

Kornowa s tee shot on No. 3 in the tiebreaker hit a tree branch and tailed off out of bounds to the left. He later found himself in a bunker, all but eliminating his title chances as Ozuk made par on four shots. Almost as noteworthy were Michael Hyland s issues with the hole.

Hyland led the field by two strokes entering the day, but his lead evaporated when he carded a 10 on No. 3 after picking up penalties on two tee shots. Had Hyland merely made bogey on the hole he would have won the tournament, while a double-bogey would have placed him in the tiebreaker alongside Ozuk and Kornowa.

So how did Ozuk manage to navigate the hole so well when others could not?

I just tried to keep it in bounds, he said. I had five double bogeys this week [although none on No. 3] because I hit out of bounds. Today I just worked at hitting the ball straight and keeping it down out of the wind.

While Ozuk shot a 1-over 72 and Kornowa even par 71 in the final round, James Thompson (Mohawk) fired a 73, finishing third with a total score of 294 three strokes more than Ozuk and Kornowa. Hyland (Inverness) fell to fourth, carding a 78 after a 69 on Saturday. He was quick to point out that two years ago at this tournament he frittered away a nine-stroke lead with 36 holes remaining.

It s not a course for me, even though I played well [Saturday], said Hyland, who entertained his playing partners throughout with well-timed self deprecating humor.

Kornowa (Highland Meadows) would have won the match on the first playoff hole except that his putt for birdie stopped rolling fractions of an inch in front of the cup a microcosm of the putting misfortunes displayed by most players yesterday. Kornowa s drive on No. 2 landed in front of a tree. Two shots later he hit into a bunker, from where he stood off balance and delivered a beautiful chip within two feet of the cup. That would be his last solid shot of the day.

I putted bad all day, said Kornowa, 28. You can t have 36 putts and win a golf tournament.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:rautullo@theblade.com



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