Jackson still a win short of history

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Two years ago, it seemed like such a sure thing: Mike Jackson would tie the Regions Cup's Senior Division career victory record and quickly break it.

"Hammer time," as Jackson liked to say after a victory, would continue to flourish.

But, suddenly, the hammer stopped falling, and the Martinez resident is still stuck on 12 victories, one shy of tying Ed Payne's record, set in 2004.

Jackson's last victory came in the W.M. Gregory Classic at North Augusta Country Club on June 4, 2006.

Does Jackson know how long his non-winning streak is?

"Probably 21 or 22 (tournaments)," he said.

The winless stretch has hit 21 events.

Jackson quickly follows with a question of his own: "How many second- and third-place finishes do I have (during that time)?"

The answer is three seconds and two thirds.

The most telling statistic, the one that shows how competitive Jackson has been during his dry spell, is this: 13 top-5 finishes out of those 21 tournaments.

"It's been my putting," the two-time Senior Division Player of the Year (2003 and 2004) said when asked to pinpoint why the victories stopped flowing. "My putting has not been what it should be. If you're going to win, you've got to putt very well.

"The competition has gotten better," he added. "There are a lot of good players, and you've got to go low and to do that, you've got to putt well. My putting is significantly better than it was last year, but it's still not where it should be."

It's not for lack of trying that Jackson hasn't won. He'll play in his 20th consecutive Regions Cup event when the Augusta City Amateur begins today at Forest Hills Golf Club.

It's the sixth event of the 11-tournament series this year. Jackson has finished in the top 10 in every one of them, with his best finish being a third at Bartram Trail.

"I should play well; hopefully, this will be the breakthrough. Hopefully, that 13th win won't be far away.

"I think this year is my best chance to win," said Jackson, who has never won a Regions Cup event at Forest Hills. "I know I'm playing much better. I'm hitting more solid golf shots and putting better. That's a good combination."

Jackson said he's not frustrated. He's been working harder at his clothing-supply business, and that has hurt his game.

"I haven't been able to dedicate the time to practice and play," he said. "I wasn't frustrated, because I wasn't putting in the time I needed to win. It's hard to play to the level you need to in order to win if you're only playing Saturday and Sunday."

His age -- Jackson is 59 -- has not played a role in the drought, he said.

"I'm in really good shape, but, eventually, it will be a factor," he said.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

AN EVEN DOZEN

Most of Mike Jackson's 12 Senior Division victories in the Regions Cup came in a two-year flurry.

2001: Jones Creek Classic

2002: W.M. Gregory Classic

2003: Golf Capital Invitational; Persimmon Hill Classic; Camellia Classic; W.M. Gregory Classic

2004: Persimmon Hill Classic; Camellia Classic; Perry Watson Memorial; Orville White Cup; Midland Valley Senior Invitational

2006: W.M. Gregory Classic

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