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Noah Yano wins 100th Portland City Championship

by Bob Robinson

Somehow it just seemed appropriate that the Portland City Championship’s 100th anniversary event in early July was won by a golfing grinder, Noah Yano. So many like him had prevailed over the years at the storied Eastmoreland Municipal Course.

Yano, a Portland-area resident who plays most of his golf at the Rose City Municipal Course and at Persimmon Country Club in Gresham, had been in position to win the city title twice before. But he blew final-round leads in both 2013 and 2015, making his victory this time all the more special.

“Those other times were really disappointing,” he told Steve Brandon of the Portland Tribune. “I just didn’t finish. This time I finished.”

Yano, 37, edged Derek Lee of Snoqualmie, Wash., by one shot with a 3-over-par card of 71-76–147 in the 36-hole tournament. Riley Elmes of Loyola-Marymount University, the 2016 champion and a former Lake Oswego High School golfer, tied for third.

Photo by Steve Brandon

A former Franklin High School (Portland) golfer, Yano joined a champions list that reaches all the way back to 1918 when John Rebstock won the first of three titles he claimed over the event’s first four stagings. Eastmoreland, designed by former U.S. Amateur champion and PNGA Hall of Famer Chandler Egan, has been the host for all but one of the 100 tournaments. One was held at Rose City due to construction work at Eastmoreland.

Rebstock and Frank Dolp (also a member of the PNGA Hall of Fame) dominated the early tournaments, with Dolp winning in 1920, 1922, 1923 and 1924. Both were grinder types who were relentless in their execution of good shots when they were needed.

The most memorable grinder to old-timers, though, was bald-headed Ben Hughes, a meat-cutter by trade and a multi-time winner who drew large crowds whenever he reached the final day of match-play, the tournament’s format for most of its history, ending in 2006.

Among other noteworthy city champions have been Dick Iverson, Dick Estey, Lou Stafford, Tab Boyer, Tom Lillejolm, Tom Marlowe and Rick Roskopf. Marlowe later spent time as Eastmoreland’s PGA head pro.

The tournament was switched to its present two-day format on the Fourth of July weekend due to the monetary drain of a week-long match-play event, according to Rob Cumpston, who manages the course with his brother, Clark. “Financially, you can’t take the hit of having your course basically closed for a week,” Rob said. “Also, people are just busier these days. They can’t take a week off to come and play in a golf tournament.”

So Yano becomes the latest holder of the championship’s perpetual trophy, beaming with pride. It wasn’t lost on him that the words “In memory of Ben Hughes” were engraved at the bottom of it.

During his five decades of covering golf for The Oregonian, Bob Robinson was named the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year, and has been awarded the Dale Johnson Media Award by the Oregon Golf Association and the Distinguished Service Award by the Northwest Golf Media Association.