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Horner Wins Tourney in Southern Cal

BY JOHN WILKINSON / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – Dan Horner needed a break from the 30-degree high temperatures and regular snowfall of winter in Sandy, Utah, so he phoned friend and Pasadena resident Dan Sullivan about coming to California for a little golf. “I just wanted to get out of the snow so I called [Sullivan] just to see if he wanted to play some golf,” Horner said. “He said he was playing a tournament and said I should play, so I came out and played.” Dan Horner, 35 of Sandy, Utah makes his way off the 18th green to head back to the 10th hole where he won the 11th Rancho Santa Margarita Amateur tournament in sudden death Sunday at Tijeras Creek Golf Club. Horner did more than simply play in Saturday and Sunday’s 11th Rancho Santa Margarita Amateur at Tijeras Creek Golf Club – he won it. A birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff against Lake Forest’s Rick Taniguchi gave Horner the victory after recording an even-par 144 over the 36-hole tournament.When he invited his friend to visit, did Sullivan expect Horner to win the whole thing? “Yeah I did actually,” Sullivan said. “He’s a very good player. … It did not surprise me that he won the tournament.”It looked like Horner had the tournament wrapped up on the 18th green when a short par-putt would have given him the outright victory at 1-under-par. Horner, however, pulled the putt left of the hole and tapped in for a bogey to tie him with Taniguchi.”I haven’t been playing a ton of golf, but I started hitting it pretty good,” Horner said. “The first day I struggled with making the putts. [Sunday] I putted a little bit better except for the last two holes.”Taniguchi, playing one group ahead of Horner, had made par on the 18th hole to finish at even par for the tournament. In the playoff, played on the 10th hole, Tanaguchi’s approach shot caught the stone embankment at the front edge of the green and bounced into the water hazard. He ended up carding a six while Horner hit his approach close and sunk his putt for a three.Robin Kang of Rancho Palos Verdes finished third at 1-over-par while Rancho Santa Margarita’s Gordon Neale and Sullivan rounded out the top five, finishing tied at 3-over-par for the weekend.Horner, Sullivan and Cole Eby of Aliso Viejo, each shooting 1-under-par, were tied for the lead after the first day. Eby withdrew midway through his Sunday round.Defending champion KK Limbhasut finished tied for tenth with Yorba Linda’s Derek Castillo at 6-over 150. In the short history of the tournament, there has only been one repeat champion – Bo DeHuff in 2006-07.Tijeras Creek Director of Golf Rob Heslar said the course’s greens were “firm and fast,” while shifting winds “definitely held up some of the guys’ scores.” One-under-par was the lowest score recorded on either day.”It was pretty challenging,” Sullivan said. “They set it up tough and put the pins in some tough spots both days actually. But the conditions were great, the greens and fairways were in really nice shape.”Contact the writer: [email protected] or 949-454-730