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  McBride Wins U.S. Open,
but Results Do Not Touch
Final Grand Prix Standings

by Bob Alman,
based on report of Marc Gilutin
Posted December 14, 1997

The 1997 "New America Grand Prix" is over and now passes away forever to make way in January for the "New U.S.C.A. Grand Prix" - an inclusive performance-based system that will track all players in all USCA sanctioned events at all levels, in both American and International Rules. Below, the top events of the year and the top-performing players are acknowledged and ranked - but first, here's news of the 1997 U.S. Open...

The U.S. Open, played in the first week of December in Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage, California, was the anticlimactic final tournament in the 1997 New American Grand Prix. The strength of the field and the size of the tournament were both greatly reduced from former years, when the U.S. Open was at times the strongest International Rules tournament on the calendar.

The U.S. Open is one of the few tournaments dually sanctioned - by both the U.S.C.A. and the A.C.A. (American Croquet Association). Its decline mirrors the senescence of the A.C.A. itself, whose formation a decade ago spearheaded significant reforms in the U.S.C.A. leading to more International Rules play and broader education of U.S. players in the form of the sport played predominantly in most other countries.

Though plagued by rain, the tournament was not significantly affected by El Nino, according to A.C.A. President and Tournament Director Stan Patmor of Phoenix, Arizona, and all the games were played out in the pre-planned format - the "Patmor Draw." Canadian Leo McBride earned "holder" status and confirmed his reputation as Canada's strongest player by fending off the challenge of Denver's Rich Lamm, who fought his way to the top of the elimination ladder. McBride was the only competitor to successfully complete triple peels.

 1. Leo McBride

 2. Rich Lamm

 3. Dan Mahoney 

 4. Mike Lufkin 

    Johnny Mitchell

 6. Louie Nel 

    Richard Tucker

 8. Gordon Milse

 9. Maurice Marsac

10. Marc Gilutin

The much-weakened Championship Flight allowed several former first flighters with 5 handicaps to move up to the rarified air of Championship croquet for the first time.

First Flight was divided into low-handicappers (which saw Melanie Marsac go undefeated and Maryholt Maxwell take second) and high-handicappers (where Hope Harmon took first and Carmen McDaniel came in second).

Social Flight was won by Martha Tucker; Lloyd Hillman was second.

Weaknesses of Grand Prix System to be Corrected in 1998

One weakness of the "New American Grand Prix" has been the shifting relative strength of tournaments from year to year. While the U.S. Open declined greatly, the Meadowood Invitational - which changed from American Rules to International Rules - was not one of the 16 tracked events but turned out to be a very strong event.

These weaknesses will be corrected in the "New USCA Grand Prix," to be introduced in January. This system is planned to use the same reporting forms as the USCA Handicap and Tracking Points System, but will also include for the first time all USCA sanctioned International Rules events. Number of points awarded will depend on the STRENGTH as well as the LENGTH of flights tracked, with some extra weighting given to USCA titled events. Rich Curtis, member of the USCA Management Committee representing the Mid-Atlantic Region, has developed the new Grand Prix with considerable input from both the Management Committee and other prominent players. It's design effectively addresses most criticisms of the old USCA Grand Prix system, which rewarded participation more and performance less. To ensure that the best performing players come out on top, the new system will either average a player's results from all his events, or choose the BEST results from a specified number of events - say, four or five. (CROQUET WORLD will make a full explanation of the new system when it is introduced online early in 1998.)

USCA National Titled Events Regain Supremacy

As usual, the Sonoma Cutrer World Championship was the strongest event played in America in 1997 - by far. Two Northern Californians - Jerry Stark and Wayne Rodoni - made it to the second rung of the final elimination ladder, ending in a four-way tie for ninth place.

After Sonoma-Cutrer, the strongest International Rules tournament was the USCA International Rules National Championship played in Oakland California, with each of the top ten players a former or present member of an international team.

The strongest American Rules tournament - for the second consecutive year - was the USCA nationals in Palm Beach in October. Here are the rankings of the American Rules tournaments tracked (as graded by the aggregate handicaps of the top eight players registered):

 1.  USCA American Rules Nationals
 2.  Arizona Open
 3.  Palm Beach Invitational
 4. &nbspUSCA Mid-Atlantic Regional
 5.  USCA Southern Regional
 6.  Delaware Invitational
 7.  Merion Invitational
 8.  San Francisco Open
 9.  USCA Northeast Regional
10. Canadian Open Croquet Championships
11. USCA Midwest Regional
11. USCA Southwest Regional
12. USCA Northwest Regional

John Osborn Continues Reign as "Player of the Year"

John Osborn topped the "New American Grand Prix" from the beginning, starting off his year by winning the Palm Beach Invitational in January. He also won the Delaware Invitational and the strong Mid-Atlantic Regional - the only player to win more than one major event; he placed second at the Nationals in October; his weakest showing was sixth place in a powerful Arizona Open. Without doubt, he was the strongest, most consistent USCA player of the year.

Second-place Mik Mehas of Palm Springs showed signs at times of closing the gap, but wasn't quite up to the mark, winning big in the International Rules Nationals, placing second in San Francisco, and third in Arizona; his worst showing was 6th place at the Palm Beach nationals.

Close behind Mehas is former USCA president Bill Berne, who continues to consistently finish well in strong tournaments. He won the Merion Invitational, was second in Southern Regional, and placed third in both the USCA nationals and the Palm Beach Invitational.

In fourth place is 1996 USCA National Champion Jim Hughes, whose worst showing of the year was his 13th place in the 1997 nationals. But he placed second at both Merion and Palm Beach invitationals, and a respectable fourth in Delaware.

How the New American Grand Prix Works

The 1997 New America Grand Prix covers 16 of the most important croquet events in North America - all the national championships and USCA regionals as well as eight of the consistently strongest tournaments in the land. Designed to track the performance of the top-level players throughout the calendar year, the Grand Prix awards points to the top eight finishers in all these tournaments. The amount of the points award depends not only on the rank of finish in a particular tournament, but also the strength of the tournament as measured in four "scoring ranges", with a win or place in the toughest tournaments generating four times as many points as a win or place in the weakest of the 16 events. The Grand Prix also takes into account consistency: At the end of the year, the top performers' points are averaged among all the Grand Prix events they contested, and the "Player of the Year" is determined by computing the highest score. To be eligible for this ranking, at least three events must be played.

How Grand Prix Points Are Awarded

Grand Prix player rankings are updated after each event, based on reported results. Raw points are awarded on the following basis:

FIRST PLACE - 100 points;

SECOND  - 60 points; 

THIRD   - 40 points;

FOURTH  - 30 points;

FIFTH   - 25 points;

SIXTH   - 20 points;

SEVENTH - 15 points;

EIGHTH  - 10 points.

The points are then adjusted according to the strength of the field, as measured by the aggregate handicap total of the top eight players registered in the tournament, as follows:

RAW POINTS for placing in events scoring 10 or more;
RAW POINTS x 2 for placing in events scoring 5.0 through 9.5;
RAW POINTS x 3 for placing in events scoring 2.0 through 4.5;
RAW POINTS x 4 for placing in events scoring below 2.0.

1997 Grand Prix Point Standings
After Sixteen of Sixteen Events

1220 points - John Osborn

 770 points - Mik Mehas

 680 points - Bill Berne 

 458 points - Jim Hughes

 423 points - Britt Ruby

 400 points - Don Fournier, Jr., Chris Clarke (England)

 395 points - Doug Grimsley

 340 points - Leo McBride

 300 points - Carl Hanson, Darrell Turner

 240 points - Pat Roach, Debbie Cornelius (England)

              Jerry Stark

 220 points - John Phaneuf

 200 points - Carl Mabee

 188 points - Richard Powell

 175 points - Dan Mahoney

 173 points - Stuart Lawrence

 165 points - Neil Houghton

 160 points - Tony Stephens (New Zealand)

              David Openshaw (England), Rich Lamm

 128 points - Bob Cherry 

 120 points - Mike Zuro, Mack Penwell, Jacques Fournier

 110 points - Stephen Mulliner (England)

              Steve Comish (England)

 100 points - Jim Bast, Jeff Soo, Steve Johnston

              Rory Kelley

  98 points - Mark Najarian

  95 points - Brian Cumming

  90 points - Fred Jones, Ron Turner, Rich Curtis

  88 points - Dave Lewis

  85 points - Matt Baird

  80 points - Greg Shaffer, Erv Peterson

  75 points - Alan Wolman

  70 points - Wayne Rodoni, John Leonard

  68 points - Jim Hall, Joe Morris

  60 points - Steve Jones (New Zealand)

              Jeff Dawson (England),

              Toby Garrison (New Zealand)

              Joe Yoder, Ed Merrill,

              Mike Weimerskirch, Charlie Smith

  51 points - Johnny Mitchell

  50 points - Carl Larkin

  48 points - Michael Zuro

  45 points - John Hunter

  40 points - Paul Bennett, Peter Brandt, Phil Arnold

  38 points - Gar Bechstead, John Oehrle

  35 points - Jim Houser, Rich Sheeley

  30 points - John Dill, Doug Merrill

  28 points - Mike Lufkin

  25 points - Chuck Reif, Byron Thomas, Dwight Mayer

              Rhys Thomas, Sal Esquivel, Jim Audas

              Steve Mossbrook, Tom Hughes, Bill Martin

              Derrick Robinson

  20 points - John Taylor, Dick Brackett

  18 points - Jeff Maxwell, Chuck Whitlow, Ron Lloyd

              Louis Nel, Richard Tucker

  15 points - Bill Blanton

  19 points - Gordon Milse


January 12-19, 1997
(Grade One, quadruple points)
Palm Beach, Florida

1st - John Osborn
2nd - Jim Hughes
3rd - Bill Berne
4th - Richard Powell
5th - Fred Jones
        Bob Cherry
7th - Chuck Reif
        Byron Thomas
        Dwight Mayer
        Rhys Thomas

March 2-8
(Grade One, quadruple points)
Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona

1st - Don Fornier, Jr.
2nd - Pat Roach
3rd - Mik Mehas
4th - Doug Grimsley
5th - Carl Hanson
6th - John Osborn
7th - Matt Baird
        Alan Wolman

May 8-11
(Grade Three, double points)
San Francisco, California

1st - Carl Hanson
2nd - Mik Mehas
3rd - Wayne Rodoni
        John Leonard
5th - Dan Mahoney
        Stuart Lawrence
7th - Sal Esquivel
        Jim Audas

May 21-25
(Grade Two, triple points)
Pinehurst, North Carolina

1st - Darrell Turner
2nd - Bill Berne
3rd - Mack Penwell
4th - Ron Turner
5th - Richard Powell
        Jim Hall
7th - Bob Cherry
        Gar Beckstead

MAY 23-26
(Grade Three, double points)
Wilmington, Delaware

1st - John Osborn
2nd - Mike Zuro
3rd - Greg Shaffer
4th - Jim Hughes
5th - Doug Grimsley
        Neil Houghton
7th - Jim Hauser
        Tom Hughes

May 26-31
(International Rules)
(Grade One, quadruple points)
Sonoma-Cutrer Winery, Windsor, California

1st - Chris Clarke (England)
2nd - Debbie Cornelius (England)
3rd - Tony Stephens (New Zealand)
4th - Stephen Mulliner (England)
        Steve Comish (England)
6th - Steve Jones (New Zealand)
        Jeff Dawson (England)
        Toby Garrison (New Zealand)

June 19-22
(Grade Four, raw points)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

American Rules International Rules
Dan Mahoney
Jeff Soo
Leo McBride
Jim Hauser
Dave Lewis
Bill Martin
Mark Najarian
Chris Percival-Smith
Brian Cumming
Jeff Soo
Leo McBride
Bill Martin
Dave Lewis
Mark Najarian
Leon Parker
Ross Robinson

June 25-29
(Grade One, raw points)
Denver, Colorado

1. Rich Lamm
2. Ed Merrill
3. Peter Brandt
4. Doug Merrill
5. Steve Mossbrook
6. John Taylor

June 26-29
(Grade Four, raw points)
Houston, Texas

1. Jim Bast
2. Joe Yoder
3. Paul Bennett
4. John Dill
5. Britt Ruby
    Johnny Mitchell
7. Bill Blanton

July 8-12
(Grade Four, raw points)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

1. Steve Johnston
2. Mike Weimerskirch
3. Rick Sheely
    Matt Baird
5. Mike Zuro
    Jeff Maxwell
    Chuck Whitlow
    Ron Lloyd

July 30-August 3
(Grade Three, double points)
Newport, Rhode Island

1. Carl Mabee
2. Leo McBride
3. Mark Najarian
4. Dave Lewis
5. John Hunter
    Brian Cumming
    Derrick Robinson
    Alan Wolman

August 6-10
(Grade Two, triple points)
Wilmington, Delaware

1. John Osborn
2. Doug Grimsley
3. Neil Houghton
4. Rich Curtis
5. Joe Morris
    Stuart Lawrence
    Jim Hughes
    John Oehrle

September 12-14
(Grade Three, double points)
Haverford, Pennsylvania

1. Bill Berne
2. Jim Hughes
3. John Phaneuf
4. Stuart Lawrence
5. Neil Houghton
6. Dan Mahoney
7. Michael Zuro
8. Dick Brackett

September 17-21
(Grade One, Quadruple Points)
Oakland and San Francisco, California

1. Mik Mehas
2. Jerry Stark
3. David Openshaw
4. Jacques Fournier
5. Rory Kelley
6. Erv Peterson
7. Charlie Smith
8. Phil Arnold

October 19-25
Palm Beach, Florida

1. Britt Ruby
2. John Osborn
3. Bill Berne
   &nbspJohn Phaneuf
5. Leo McBride
    Mik Mehas
7. Doug Grimsley
    Carl Larkin

December 3-7
U.S. OPEN (International Rules)
Palm Desert and Rancho MIrage, California

1. Leo McBride
2. Rich Lamm
3. Dan Mahoney
4. Mike Lufkin
    Johnny Mitchell
6. Louis Nel
    Richard Tucker
8. Gordon Milse

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