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Smith overcomes runner-up trend to win HRWGA Club Championship

Jo Smith had been on the doorstep for years.

The ever-elusive HRWGA Club Championship lingered in the back of her mind like the Masters title preys on the conscience of Greg Norman every year.

But 2002 was different for Smith. After two years of playing second fiddle, she exorcised her runner-up demons Tuesday and won the Club Championship by four strokes.

“It was nothing spectacular, just steady,” said Smith, whose two-day score of 181 surpassed a close-knit runner-up group of Susan Gutzler, Carol Kuatt and Anna Sterr, who each shot 185.

“I’m not a long-ball hitter, but I’m usually straight. I guess my consistency paid off,” she said.

Among the rest of the field, Laney Gale won the Class A division with a 187, and was followed by Kathy Guthrie (192) and Patsy Prideaux (198).

Shirley Ekker registered the top score of 195 in Class B, outshooting Linda Phillips (198) and Frances Arnold (207) for top honors.

Elaine Rife, Kaz Sumoge and Vivian Foster played two nip-and-tuck rounds in Class C and finished separated by just four strokes. Rife was first with 216, Sumoge second at 218, and Foster third with a 220.

Cynthia Brocklesby rounded out Tuesday’s winners by taking the Class D title with a solid score of 207. Adeline Schull (227) and Maxine Negley (230) completed the leaderbord.

In the Closest to Pin competition, Guthrie and Smith won Class A, Carole Murphy and Laura Jeffries took Class B, Rife won Class C, and Brocklesby and Raye Hukari topped Class D.

Gutzler and Gale posted the Long Drives in Class A, while Phillips and Arnold outdrove the Class B field. Kelly Asbridge and Rife had the long drives in Class C, and Hukari and Jeannie Farwig won the Class D competition.

Something new at this year’s Club Championship was a luncheon on hole No. 18.

“It was kind of nice to see everyone waiting for us when we (the last group) finished up,” said Smith.

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