Rancho Bernardo resident wins 10th straight BHCC Men’s Club Championship
By Michael Bower
The Men’s Club Championship at the Bernardo Heights Country Club has belonged to only one man in the last decade, Masao Sugimoto.
The 45-year-old from Rancho Bernardo put the clamps down on his 10th straight title at the golf club Aug. 12, firing a gross score of 217 (1-over par) over the 54-hole tournament. Sugimoto topped the second-place finisher by six strokes.
“I get older so it is tougher and tougher every year and the new members are all younger than me so I have to prepare very well to beat everybody else,” said Sugimoto, who owns an import/export business specializing in tool and die equipment and electronic components. “These last two or three years it has been very tough to be in contention.”
Sugimoto’s lead was only two strokes during the front-nine of the third round. But he stuck to his game plan to pull away and record his amazing 10th straight victory in the tournament.
“I was just trying to make sure I didn’t make any stupid mistakes,” he said. “I was just trying to hit the fairway, then the green and then two putt.”
The streak was in jeopardy few years ago when the tournament went to a playoff after Sugimoto was tied with a competitor through the 54 holes.
“Luckily, I was able to win in the first playoff hole,” Sugimoto said.
Sugimoto picked up golf at an early age while in Japan. His father cut a 9-iron down to Sugimoto’s size when he was about 8 years old and he started hitting golf balls.
“I didn’t care too much for it at first,” Sugimoto said. “I enjoyed the other sports like baseball and soccer. I never imagined I would take golf seriously until I was around 12, 13 or 14.”
Now Sugimoto’s entire family plays golf. His oldest son, Eric, will be starting his second season at the University of Pacific this year. His daughter and youngest son also play, but prefer softball and baseball. His wife does not play as often now, but use to be an avid golfer.
Those trying to earn the glory of knocking Masao from his perch should get the shot each and every year. He doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
“The head golf pro, Monty Hanson, told me I can’t quit the tournament until I lose,” said Sugimoto with a laugh. “So I guess I will have to keep playing every year.”
Other tournament notes: The best net score, after deducting handicap, belonged to Larry Valente of 4S Ranch with a 208. Jeff Brady (Rancho Bernardo) was one of three gross winners of the handicap flights. The local net winners in the handicap flights were Dave Sixt (Poway), Roger Nedrow (Rancho Bernardo) and Mark Wiederkehr (Rancho Bernardo).
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