If Alissa Herron is nervous about defending her U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur championship, she certainly wasn't showing any signs of it Tuesday.
Just prior to a practice round at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, where the championship for women amateurs 25 and older will be held Oct. 3-8, Herron was joking about everything from the media to her brother, PGA Tour player Tim Herron.
"It's important to be relaxed," said Alissa Herron, who won last year at Cherokee Town & Country Club in Atlanta. "If you take it too seriously, it gets frustrating."
She knows when to be serious, however. The 27-year-old has compiled a resume that includes three Minnesota stroke-play championships and that state's match-play title earlier this year.
She also had a serious moment with brother Tim the night before last year's Women's Mid-Amateur final. Tim, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, was Alissa's caddie and Alissa needed advice on what to think about.
She became distraught when he responded by telling her to think of nothing.
"I'm like, 'You're talking to a woman here,' " she said. " 'It's not possible for us to think nothing.' "
She worried each morning during last year's tournament if she should check out of her hotel room, not knowing if she'd need it another night. She also became anxious about buying her brother dinner each night.
"His nickname is lumpy," she cracked about her 210-pound brother. "It got pretty expensive because I had to buy a lot of dinners."
An assistant to sports agent Jim Lehman, Alissa Herron was once detained by police for drinking beer out of the Claret Jug, the famed British Open trophy. Lehman is the brother of 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, and after a charity dinner one night in 1997, Herron was charged with the Claret Jug's safekeeping.
She took it bar-hopping and a bartender called police, thinking the jug was stolen. After police contacted Tom Lehman, she was cleared.
All jokes aside, Herron looks forward to defending her title.
The winner receives exemptions into future Women's Mid-Amateurs, the 2001 U.S. Women's Amateur and the 2001 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. She also gets custody of the Mildred Gardiner Prunaret Trophy.
"Too bad the year is almost over," Herron said. "I guess I need to get practicing so I can keep that trophy."
Presumably, the trophy makes a good beer mug.
LOCAL PROS HONORED
Five Orange County golf professionals and a former county pro were recipients of the Southern California PGA annual special awards, the SCPGA announced Tuesday.
Former Coyote Hills head professional Jamie Mulligan was named Teacher of the Year. Mulligan now teaches at Virginia Country Club in Long Beach.
Marty LaRoche of Tijeras Creek was honored as Junior Golf Leader for his commitment to junior golfers. Jeremy Clevenger of Mesa Verde was named assistant professional of the year, Perry Hallmeyer of Oak Creek was named merchandiser of the year and Gerald Hall of Santa Ana Country Club was named an honorary life member of the SCPGA.
Carrie Jenna of Tustin Ranch won the Horton Smith Award for furthering the education of PGA professionals, and David Foster of Aliso Viejo won the Bill Strausbaugh award for his work in club relations.
NEW POSTING SYSTEMS
The Southern California Golf Assn. is in the process of installing EHS 2000 handicapping systems at more than 300 courses in Southern California.
The new user-friendly interface computer system will include a 17-inch touch-screen monitor.