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By Rhonda J Spivak, B.A., L.L.B. Feb 20/2009

x-Winnipeger Ron Solomon was thrilled to pulled off an "unexpected" victory  in the Israel Open, that country's premiere golf tournament that took place at the Ga'ash golf course on November 29, 2008.

Solomon, who made aliya to Israel from Winnipeg some two and a half years ago, won in the Master's Division in the over 50 age group where he competed against 40 other participants.

In an interview by email, the 57 year old Solomon said "It felt great winning the tournament. Before the tournament there was a website set up with predictions on how players might finish and my name wasn't even mentioned as not many people knew me. Now I'm getting phone calls from people asking me to join them for a game. It seems I've earned some respect in golf circles"

Solomon added, "Although there are some other tournaments [in Israel] throughout the year this was the big one."

As a result of his victory, Solomon said he is currently "playing golf 2 or
3 times a week now which is considerably more than before I won the Israeli open."

While living in Winnipeg, Solomon, who worked as an elementary and high school teacher, enjoyed golf as a hobby and tried to learn whatever he could about the  games.  Shortly after moving to Israel he landed a job teaching children ages 8-17  golf at the Caesarea Golf Club.

" I haven't really played in many tournaments before and this was my first one in Israel. The only other tournament  I  ever won was the club championship at  Winnipeg's Glendale Golf Club, but that was back in 1989,"
he said.

 Solomon said he  hopes to play for  Israel's Golf Team (Masters division) in the  Maccabiah Games this upcoming July.

" Winning this tournament gives me a good chance to make the  team. There are three  qualifying rounds to make the team. One was in January, another in February and the third in March or April. These qualifying rounds don't have as much merit in making the Maccabiah team, since the Israeli open was the main qualifying tournament. But, I'll practice 2 or 3 times a week prior to these qualifying games," said Solomon.

He further added," There are also some international tournaments throughout the year in which I would be interested in playing. If I am fortunate enough to make the Israeli team I could play in them as they are generally team events."

Solomon noted that he won the Israel Open "after finishing 2 shots better than [Leslie Ben Amir] the person who finished  second." He attributed his victory to "a few key shots in the last nine holes." 
"Probably the turning point was on the 145 yard 13th hole. I was 3 shots behind at that point and the leader got up and hit his shot 2 1/2 feet from the hole. I hit next and put my ball 3 feet from the hole. I made my putt for a birdie and he missed his. Another key shot was on the 17th hole. We were tied at that point and I sank a 25 foot birdie putt which put me up by one shot with only one hole to go. I hit an excellent shot on the 185 yard par 3 18th hole to clinch the victory," he said.
As a result of  his victory in the Israel Open, Solomon in the future may start to give golf lessons to adults. "But right now, I'm happy teaching kids," he said.

When asked what he did right after the tournament to celebrate his victory, Solomon answered, " I had a beer with my cousin David who was walking with me during the last 9 holes. Of course, I called my wife Michal and kids to tell them the good news. There was also a very nice banquet that evening during which the trophies were presented."
Solomon also said that one of the things he enjoyed about the  Israel Open was that "my 11 year old son Eytan was my caddie the first two days of the tournament."

Next year's Israel Open will be played at the newly redone Caesarea golf
course which was designed by the legendary Pete Dye.   The Maccabiah Games
are also scheduled to be played on Dye's course.

"That course will prove to be a much tougher challenge to all of  the golfers [as compared to the course at Ga'ash]," said Solomon.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.