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Classic winners find their fame.

Byline: Ron Bellamy / The Register-Guard

The golfer in the spotlight last weekend was the incomparable Tiger Woods, who won his second British Open, his 10th major title, and reaffirmed his status as the best in the world, period.

When Tiger wins a major, everything else in golf is simply a footnote, but there were a couple of interesting footnotes last week.

Former Oregon Classic winner Jason Gore won his second straight Nationwide Tour event, capturing the Scholarship America Showdown in Hudson, Wis.

And a former Oregon Classic contender, Jason Bohn, won his first PGA Tour event, winning the B.C. Open in Endicott, N.Y.

It's believed to be the first time that two former Oregon Classic participants have won on the same weekend, and it again spoke to the quality of the event, which in two months returns to Shadow Hills Country Club for its seventh rendition, Sept. 29 through Oct. 2.

"It definitely highlights the level of play here," said Oregon Classic tournament director Chris Roche. "We have over 100 guys who have played in our tournament on the Big Tour this year.'

Gore, the former Pepperdine golfer who won the 2002 Oregon Classic and contended last year, has become this summer's symbol of "Almost Famous," having come out of nowhere, in the bigger picture, to contend for the U.S. Open title before enduring a painful final round.

With that performance, Gore has become somewhat of a cult hero on the Nationwide Tour. ESPN's "Outside the Lines" did a follow-up recently, reporting that he draws the bigger galleries, such as they are, and more media attention.

"It's fun to see one of our guys jump on the national scene," Roche said. "Even though it didn't finish the way he wanted, he handled it so well. ... After the top 50 on the PGA Tour, 51 through our 100th guy is pretty much a coin flip on any given day, and you're seeing that by guys like Jason going to the U.S. Open and contending through three rounds."

Indeed, will Gore still be on the Nationwide Tour when the Oregon Classic arrives? With two victories, he's a win away from regaining his PGA Tour card.

Bohn has his own interesting footnote. He's the golfer who, as an Alabama freshman, made a hole-in-one in a charity contest, winning $1 million and launching his professional career.

And, until hometown hero Jeff Quinney won here last year, Bohn gave the Oregon Classic its most dramatic moments - a third-round eagle on No. 18 to grab the lead in 2003, and a fourth-round eagle on No. 18 to force a sudden-death playoff.

Which was won by Chris Couch, who played last year on the PGA Tour and is currently No. 1 on the Nationwide Tour money list, with $307,598 in earnings.

This year's Oregon Classic will spill into October for the first time; the late-season date will make the event more meaningful to golfers contending for Top 20 season-ending finishes and PGA Tour cards.

The tournament will feature a new charitable cause. After supporting scholarships for Kidsports, the Oregon Classic, primarily sponsored by the Kendall Auto Group, has designated the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, which serves the working poor, as its primary charitable beneficiary.

Oregon Classic officials say the tournament has raised more than $566,000 for charity since its inception, with the bulk of that going to Kidsports. Roche said that agency's financial problems had nothing to do with the change. "It was nothing against Kidsports," he said. "That's a great cause, and hopefully we'll continue to find ways to involve them and support them."

Another change will be in the "Pairings Party" on Sept. 27, the night before the pro-am. Last year, in a decision that raised eyebrows, the Oregon Classic brought in former baseball star Pete Rose. This year, the featured event will be a round-table discussion and question-and-answer with more than a half-dozen of the top Nationwide Tour players.

That could include the guy who contended in the U.S. Open, or a golfer who might contend in another.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 20, 2005
Words:681
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