By Steve Breazeale
Mark Warman has been in total control of his golf game for the better part of four months.
After claiming the San Clemente Municipal Golf Course’s men’s club championship in June, the San Clemente native put on a master class in ball striking at the San Clemente City Golf Championships over the weekend and cruised his way toward claiming the title on Oct. 16.
Warman, who shot back-to-back rounds of 64 (-8), tied the tournament scoring record with a total of 128 (-16), besting the field of 150 amateur golfers that competed over the two-day stretch.
Warman did not miss a green in regulation at the tournament, going a perfect 36 for 36 in opportunities, which gave him plenty of chances to make birdies.
He got off to a blistering start on the front nine on Sunday, carding five consecutive birdies starting on the third hole. On the tricky par-4 sixth, after a wayward tee shot, Warman hit an iron through a narrow window of trees to about four feet and converted the putt. On the 165-yard par-3 ninth, he stuffed his tee shot to about one foot to go out in 30 (-6).
Mark Warren pours in his 6th birdie of the day for a 30 (-6) on the front 9 at the San Clemente City Championships. He’s -14 & in the lead pic.twitter.com/ahrGmUcqgB
— Steve Breazeale (@Steve_Breazeale) October 16, 2016
“The front nine, I was just on fire and I putted great,” Warman said. “It was great to get off to a hot start like that, and that got me going.”
Warman began the second round with a two-shot lead, and was being chased by local young-guns Alex Pak, a 15-year-old sophomore at San Clemente High School, and recent SCHS grad Austin Briggs, who plays for Orange Coast College. Pak and Briggs both turned in first-round scores of 66 (-6), which put them in the final group on Sunday.
Pak reeled off three birdies on the back nine Sunday en route to a second-round score of 71 (-1). Pak’s two-day total of 137 (-7) earned him a solo second-place finish and low junior honors. Briggs finished tied for fourth place with a score of 140 (-4). San Clemente native Casey Strohsahl finished alone in third.
Warman pulled off a rare double-dip in San Clemente golf lore by capturing both the men’s club championship and city championship this year. It was a long time coming for Warman, who regained his amateur status by the United States Golf Association in June. Warman played professionally for nine years before calling it a career and returning to the world of amateur competition. The USGA made him wait two and a half years before he could tee it up again as an amateur.
Warman works one day a week in the Muni pro shop, and has been playing the historic course since he was a kid.
His game was sharp, and he proved that local knowledge can go a long way in the annual tournament.
“I don’t think I could hit the ball much better, and I don’t think I’ve ever putted that well either, so I think my game was pretty much as good as it could’ve been,” Warman said. “It’s rare that that happens but it was a good weekend for it to come together.”