LAKE TAHOE MARATHON WEEK: Kivela speeds off with third straight title
MEYERS – No one could slow down speed golfer Paul Kivela.
Kivela of Napa, Calif., won his third straight Lake Tahoe Marathon speed golf title Thursday morning at Tahoe Paradise Golf Course.
Kivela completed the 18-hole golf course in just over 34 minutes and shot a round of 79 to come in with the lowest-combined score at 113. Players were allowed their choice of three clubs to navigate the tree-lined course.
“This is my sport, and I really enjoy it,” said Kivela, who supported that claim by using a spiked club holder designed by his 14-year-old son Alex.
Speed golf has become a regular part of Kivela’s life.
“Pretty much by 7 or 8 o’clock anytime of the year I’m done with running five miles and playing 18 holes, and it doesn’t get much better than that,” Kivela said. “I think it would be an interesting sport if they put it together on a larger scale.”
After topping his tee shot on the first hole, Kivela rebounded to bogey the first hole and two early bids at birdie. The only struggles for Kivela came on the uphill and tighter holes on the back nine as he double-bogeyed three holes.
The three-time champ would have finished even sooner if not for a 90-second search for his tee shot on No. 11.
“I was hoping to get close to 30 minutes …. hopefully next year if I get a little more training in,” Kivela said.
Lake Tahoe Marathon race director Les Wright said Kivela has no weaknesses in the format.
“He’s a good golfer and runner, and he’s tough to beat,” Wright said.
John Freeman was runner-up – only five points behind the winner. Freeman shot the lowest golf round with a score of 73 and ran the course in 43:18.
Former champion Darrell Schue of South Lake Tahoe was the top local competitor, finishing fifth. Schue posted the second-lowest golf score with a 75 and finished with an overall total of 134. Schue’s running time prevented him from adding another title.
“Trying to slow yourself down is a challenge when you hit,” Schue said. “It goes so quick. With the running involved and the breathing, you have to keep your heart rate down so you can swing.
Doug Englekirk of Zephyr Cove finished sixth at 137, which included a 45-minute round of golf. South Lake Tahoe’s Maureen Gnam, the only female in the event, finished 13th overall.
“I can’t believe I made it,” said Gnam after holing her final shot.
Wright said he plans to hold the speed golf tournament on a separate weekend in the future.
“I have to separate it from the marathon, because people think marathon, and they’re not here to golf,” Wright said.
“This event has been an afterthought for me. I don’t have any time to put anything into advertising or anything. I think we’ll go to Saturday or Sunday and come back to Tahoe Paradise, who has been so good to us over the years.”
LAKE TAHOE MARATHON WEEK SPEED GOLF RESULTS
At Tahoe Paradise Golf Course, Meyers
Rank Player Time Score Penalty Total score
1. Paul Kivela 34:03-70-0-113
2. John Freeman 43:18-73-2-118
3. Sean O’Brien 41:25-83-4-128
4. Jeff Urbanski 42:04-91-0-133
5. Darrell Schue 55:32-75-4-134
6. Doug Englekirk 45:00-90-2-137
7. Jeff Rowe 45:13-94-8-147
8. Robert Berbena 60:06-86-10-156
9. Ethan Falls 53:00-99-8-160
10. Steve Yingling 62:21-98-2-162
11. Chris Conner 56:09-96-12-164
12. Bryan Murray 63:00-108-6-177
13. Maureen Gnam 73:00-102-4-179
14. Jessie Adams 45:18-148-4-197
15. Mark Smith, DNF