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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | PETER YOON / GOLF

Long-Ball Hitters Drive for Show and Dough

June 26, 1998|PETER YOON

This is a tough week to be a golf ball in Pomona.

That's because 32 of the world's longest drivers are gathered at Mountain Meadows Golf Course for the inaugural event on the Long Driver's of America Tour.

Each competitor has six chances to hit a ball as far as he can within a 50-yard landing area in a head-to-head, double-elimination format. First prize is $9,000. Competition began Thursday and concludes Saturday.

Among the participants is Calabasas resident Cary Schuman, who once had his name in the Guinness Book of World Records for a drive of more than 463 yards.

The LDA was formed by Randy Souza, a regular participant in long-drive contests, and his wife, Sara.

The couple was awed by the popularity of golfers such as John Daly, who despite personal problems has remained one of the most popular PGA Tour players because of his ability to hit 300-yard drives.

"You look at Golf magazine or Golf Digest, and more than half of their issue is focused on distance," Schuman said. "If a guy shoots 105 but hits one 300-yard drive down the middle, he's going to remember that more than the 105."

Also competing in the tournament is two-time ReMax National long-drive champion Jason Zubec of Canada. There are four Canadian players and two from Hawaii entered. Twenty-one states are represented.

The Souzas have been instrumental in the success of the popular ReMax long-drive championship, which is televised by ESPN. They hope the LDA Tour, which has two more events planned, will become just as popular.

"We'd like to have them all over the U.S.," Sara Souza said. "I'd like to say it's easy to get it going, but it's not. If this one turns out nice, then we'll plan some more."

Preliminary rounds run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and the final rounds are from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, but seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets and other information: (888) 233-4654.

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If it's not one thing, it's another for Craig Steinberg.

The Van Nuys resident who holds degrees in optometry and law won medalist honors earlier this week in the stroke-play portion of the California Amateur championship, but was beaten by Ed Cuff Jr. of Temecula on Thursday in the second round at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

No problem, though, for the well-prepared Steinberg.

The reigning Southern California Amateur and L.A. City champion already had made arrangements to play today in Sacramento in a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Public Links championships.

"He said that if he didn't win the state amateur, he was going to try and qualify for the Publinks," said Bob Thomas, spokesman for the SCGA.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links championship is July 13-18 at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla.

*

Coming to the 18th tee in the final round of the El Caballero Country Club men's championship last weekend, a couple of familiar foes were tied for the lead.

Scott Golditch, a 1994 graduate of Taft High, and his brother, Todd Golditch, a 1997 Chatsworth graduate, were tied for the lead--five strokes ahead of their nearest competitors.

Playing in the same foursome, Todd made par to defeat his brother, defending club champion, who three-putted for bogey.

Todd shot a 54-hole total of 225.

"It kind of left a sour taste," said Todd, who helped Pennsylvania win its first Ivy League golf title in the spring. "It would have been better if I had beaten him with a birdie rather than him giving it to me."

The brothers often played together growing up. But because they were usually in different age groups in junior tournaments, they never went head to head until last weekend.

"It was a new experience for us," said Scott, who will be a senior at California in the fall. "We've never had it go down to just the two of us."

Though a natural sibling rivalry exists between the Golditches, who were City Section runners-up as seniors, there were no ill feelings created by the competitive atmosphere.

"We said before the tournament that ideally we would be tied going into the last hole," Todd said.

"There were times when we would look over at each other and smile, almost saying, 'Come on, let's see what you've got.' "

The Golditch brothers plan to play in the tournament again next year, and unless one of them turns professional, for many years after that.

But just in case, their 10-year-old sister, Alyson, is being groomed to take the torch.

Alyson has started playing Southern California PGA junior tournaments and is reportedly a talent.

"She beats me pretty good," said mother Joanne Golditch.

*

Helen Knight of Tarzana won her 36th women's club championship last week at El Caballero.

That's not a misprint.

Knight won the first 32 women's club championships from 1957-1989, a national record for consecutive club championships. She won again in 1991, and has a new streak of three consecutive titles after winning on June 16 with a 72-hole total of 349, five strokes better than Brenda Cane.

*

The Valley/Ventura golf column will run weekly during the summer. Ideas or suggestions: call (818) 772-3420; fax to (818) 772-3179; or e-mail to Peter.Yoon@latimes.com.

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