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Black Rock Creek seniors pulling away in standings

MATTAWA - Powered by Akira Nozaka's even-par 72, the Sunnyside-area Black Rock Creek team notched a second-place finish last week at the eighth stop on the 2013 Mid-Columbia Senior Golf Tour. Hosting the competition, which drew 121 seniors representing 10 teams, was Desert Aire Golf & Country Club. The 6,150-yard course is nestled around an 8,000-acre lake that was formed when Priest Rapids Dam was constructed on the Columbia River near Mattawa. Expanded from a nine-hole course to an 18-hole adventure in the mid-1990s, Desert Aire provides golfers stunning vistas of the nearby Umtanum Ridge. As well as Nozaka played last week, Desert Aire regular Tom Couples bested him, carding a 5-under-par 67 to post the low round of the day. Couples is the older brother of PGA great Fred Couples. The Desert Aire squad placed first with a team aggregate score of 551. Team scores are determined by adding together the two low individual gross rounds and the six low individual net rounds (actual score minus handicap). Finishing 17 strokes behind the winners for runner-up honors, with a 568, was the Lower Yakima Valley Black Rock Creek team. The Pendleton Country Club and Columbia Point teams, sitting directly behind the six-time defending Black Rock Creek seniors in the 2013 tour standings, placed third and fourth last week. Black Rock Creek, with just four competitions remaining this year, now has a nearly insurmountable lead and is poised to win a seventh straight tour title. Nozaka's even-par round last week was even more special as the 72 he carded matched his age. The second low scorer on the Black Rock Creek score sheet proved to be Doug Veach, who toured Desert Aire with a 9-over-par 81. The six low net scorers for the Lower Valley squad were Don Cardenas (65), Alan Sandlin (68), Bud McGuiness (68), Jim Leighty (69), Max Wickham (72) and Bernie Schutt (73). In last week's side pot skins game Nozaka and Veach each cashed. Nozaka birdied the par-4 fourth to earn a $69 payout, and Veach netted a handicap-aided eagle on the par-4, 10th hole, worth $41. The next senior tour event is slated for Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Suncadia resort near Cle Elum. All of the slots made available to the Black Rock Creek team have already been filled for that day.

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