For Longview’s Jim Durand, that was the difference in winning or placing second in the International division net standings at the 68th annual United States Blind Golf Association National Championship, which concluded recently at the Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City.
Competing in the tournament’s B-2 division with other golfers who have little usable vision, Durand carded rounds of 100 and 94 for 194. Two-time World Cup Champion Jeremy Poincenot of Carlsbad, Calif., had scores of 85-91 for 176 to win the National championship.
In the International Division, Takakazu Takahashi of Japan had rounds of 126-119 for 244. Takahashi’s net score for two rounds was 143, one stroke better than Durand’s 144.
“I was playing solid the first day, then I jumped off the Earth for four holes,” Durand said. “I came back to finish with 100, but I should’ve shot a lot better. I just ran into troubles with a few tough holes.”
Durand played the course with his caddy and coach, Shamrock Tavern owner Steve Jones, who “played” each hole with Durand, getting him aimed in the right direction, giving him yardages and warning him of hazards.
“Everyone is paired with a totally blind golfer the first day, and it was really amazing seeing them play,” Durand said. “There was a guy from Italy who had rounds of 98-98 to win the totally blind division, and that was a big wow. Watching him play gave me a lot of motivation.”
In the second round, Durand was paired with Poincenot.
“I went heads-up with him for awhile,” Durand said. “I ran into a couple trouble holes, but I had a lot of fun playing with him.”
Durand was thankful for the help he received from caddies Jones, Danny Gemar and Steve Olson.
“They’ve all helped me a ton,” he said. “They’ve all been instrumental in helping me to spread the word about the Northwest Blind Golf Foundation.”
Rick McCorckle is a sports reporter for The Daily News. Reach him at 360-577-2529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.