Feb. 9, 2005 - For the second consecutive year, the Oro Valley Cup will remain at Ironwood Ridge High School.

The school won the right to house the tournament trophy in its display case after edging out Canyon del Oro for top honors, and bragging rites, in Oro Valley.

More than 150 golfers took to the course at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Country Club, 10950 N. La Cañada Drive, Feb. 4 to compete in the Second Annual Oro Valley Cup to benefit Project Graduation.

Although Ironwood Ridge came out on top after the final putt had been sunk, both schools and their graduating classes consider themselves to have won.

"This is the model of what a community should do for each other," said B.J. Meyer, head of CDO's Project Graduation.

Golfers were asked before teeing off to choose which side they were playing for, IRHS or CDO. The field was evenly split, as was all prize money from the all-day golfing event.

With more than 150 golfers playing at $500 per foursome, plus additional prize money from auctions and raffles, both schools stand to receive close to $10,000 toward their own Project Graduation.

Project Graduation is an all-night party hosted by the schools for their graduating class the night of graduation. The event is a safe, sober celebration to allow students to spend their last night together as a class.

Last year, Project Graduation was considered the quietest night of the year, with no calls to Oro Valley police involving teenagers from either school.

"We were very pleased," said Oro Valley Police Department Chief Daniel G. Sharp, of last year's Project Graduation. "It was exactly what we anticipated."

Sharp and his foursome, which included Amphitheater Public Schools board member, Jeff Grant and OVPD School Resource Officer, Dan Horetski, shot an even par for the day but wouldn't say which school they favored.

"We're responsible for all these kids," said Sharp, "As long as it's for them and their Project Graduation, we're happy."

Aside from shooting a round, Project Graduation raised money from the full field with a silent auction of a Gem golf cart, an autographed basketball signed by this year's University of Arizona men's basketball team, and a two night stay plus golf at the Hilton El Conquistador.

Other events included a putting contest on what El Conquistador officials called the 19th hole and a long drive competition on the 16th hole.

"One of the things I like about this tournament is the camaraderie it creates," said Jack Talmage, the golf tournament director at El Conquistador. "The only rivalry is on the course."

The IRHS boys golf team avenged a one stoke season loss to CDO by defeating the Dorados' foursome in the Oro Valley Cup 59 to 61. To figure out scoring, tournament officials dropped the highest and lowest scores from each side. The top three scores were then combined with the four scores from the boys teams to create an average total. The IRHS field beat out CDO by a score of 82-52.

Although the tournament was geared toward the friendly rivalry between the two schools, the majority of the field for the Oro Valley Cup was from local corporations. Among the competitors were foursomes from Coca-Cola, Raytheon and BHP Copper.

"We're looking for the business community to be a one third partner with us," said Mary Snider, the head of IRHS Project Graduation.

Last year's Oro Valley Cup netted both projects about $14,000. Seeing the success of last year's tournament, players filled spots much faster than anticipated, selling out in just the second year.

Snider said Project Graduation organizers will go before the Oro Valley Town Council on Feb. 15 to ask the town to donate $10,000 toward the event. Although any help from the town would be greatly appreciated, Snider and Meyer are hoping for the Oro Valley Cup to be their biggest earner.

"We hope to make it our main fundraiser," said Snider of the Oro Valley Cup.

Despite the success of the Cup, both IRHS and CDO are looking for donations of time, money or other resources.

IRHS will hold its graduation May 24, while CDO will graduate the following night.

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