CEDAR RAPIDS — Before Sunday, only two golfers in the 65-year history of the Cedar Rapids Men’s City Am had won the event four times.
Make way for the third.
Linn-Mar golf coach Chris James was the only golfer to finish under par at the annual three-day amateur golf tournament. His three-stroke victory was cemented with a 1-under par score of 71 in the third round on Sunday at Ellis Golf Course.
“It’s crazy,” James said. “There is a lot of history in the Cedar Rapids area. I can remember back when Sam Aossey won it his last time (2004). … What those guys meant to the Cedar Rapids area as far as golf goes is tremendous. … It’s an honor to be mentioned amongst guys like that.”
Aossey won four Men’s City Am titles (1986, ’94, ’98, ’04) in a 19-year span, which overlapped a streak of four crowns in 18 years by Bob Kollsmith (1982, ’85, ’87, ’99). It took James just 11 years to corral four trophies (2008, ’10, ’14, ’18) and at 32 years of age, there is a good chance that he may soon stand alone.
“Got some time left,” James said.
Much like his father Paul James — the current Linn-Mar football coach who spent 41 years in a variety of roles at Cedar Rapids Washington — Chris James has embarked on his own career as an educator and coach. Monday, he begins his second season as head coach of the Linn-Mar boys’ golf team. This winter will be his third season as head coach of the Washington girls’ basketball team before returning to the Lions in the spring to lead the girls’ golf team for a third season.
“When you see your kids be successful and they put the time in, they work and they want to get better, it gives you a lot of pride,” said James, who will begin his sixth year teaching third grade at Indian Creek Elementary School in Marion this fall. “You feel like you’re doing something right or making a difference a little bit in their lives. I’ve been fortunate to deal with a lot of good kids, and that makes it easy.”
The first two rounds were played Friday at Gardner Golf Course and Saturday at Jones. James entered the final round tied for first at 2-under par with former Linn-Mar and Mount Mercy golfer Ryan Schrimper, with four other golfers within two strokes. Over the final nine holes, James twice rebounded from long approach shots with a birdie on hole No. 3 and a par on No. 7. His birdie on the par-3 No. 8 made the final hole a formality.
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“He definitely won it,” said runner-up Justin Pansegrau, a two-time Men’s City Am champion (2015-16) who was three strokes back at even par. “Hole 16, he was long in the tall grass and I’m tapping in for par and it is kind of looking like he is going to bogey and he hits a great shot from the thick stiff and he makes a great putt, follows it up the next hole with a great putt. Props to him. He definitely won it.”
Ryan Gass was third overall at 1-over par. Vern Boenish won the senior division with an even-par performance.
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