Citizen Staff Writer
What’s your pleasure, birdie or par? They ended up counting the same for the semifinal winners Tuesday at the difficult Stone Canyon Golf Club.
“Here you don’t want to risk things,” said Rich Elias, who rallied to defeat former Arizona Wildcat Josh Wilks in the quarterfinals of the Southwest Section Southern Chapter annual pro match play by playing cautiously.
Elias won when Wilks conceded on the 18th green following two mistakes by Wilks. The two traded pars most of the way, with the only 2-up lead coming early in the match.
Elias, head pro at Torres Blancas of Green Valley, will face Stone Canyon’s Andrew Cochran, who beat defending champion Brandon Smith in 20 holes, in Wednesday’s semifinals.
Leading off the semifinal round will be two players who tore up the Stone Canyon course Tuesday – Chris Dompier of Skyline Country Club and Glen Griffith of Tucson Golf Schools.
Dompier posted 14 birdies and one eagle and beat Stone Canyon’s Dean Vomacka 4 and 3.
Griffith had an eagle and was 5-under par the first six holes of his quarterfinal match, 3 and 2 over top-seeded Mike Russell.
Wilks couldn’t escape a sand trap on first try on No. 17, then “killed my tee shot on No. 18.”
“I shot out of a bunker and all I had to do was roll it in,” said Elias, whose strategy was to be conservative and try to hit under gusting winds on high-level spots.
Stone Canyon is the state’s No. 2-rated course in difficulty.
“Josh started to think too much at the end and it hurt him,” theorized tournament director Nick Price.
Wilks, 25, was playing in his first tournament in two years after leaving UA and taking a “burnout sabbatical.” He taught school for a while and worked as an assistant at the Gallery Golf Club.
“I’m ready to get back,” Wilks said. “I’m going to play some tournaments, and if I”m doing well I’ll chase the Nationwide Tour. I found out what it means to have to earn a living and how I’m blessed to be playing this game.”