Valley Hi CC
October 28-29, 2013
October 29, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
ELK GROVE – Ron Johnson has been waiting a long time to win an NCGA Championship and on Tuesday at Valley Hi CC he finally was able to mark that item off his bucket list. The 67-year-old from Walnut Creek won the fourth annual NCGA Super Senior Championship putting together rounds of 74 and 73 to post a 36-hole score of 147, 3-over-par, and win by a margin of three strokes.
“I have been playing in NCGA events for 50 years and I’ve never won [an individual event] before, so I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Johnson, who acknowledged he won the 2010 NCGA Senior Four-Ball with partner Peter Moren.
Johnson, who finished third in this event last year, looked like he may come up short once again in an individual championship as he struggled for his first 11 holes going 4-over-par, with four bogeys on Nos. 6, 9, 10 and 11. However, on No. 12 his fortune turned around with a chip-in birdie that sparked two more birdies on Nos. 13 and 16 to fire a 1-under-par 35 on the back-nine.
“That [chip-in] changed my attitude and it changed my whole round,” he said.
Johnson began the day in a tie with fellow-competitors Earl Stewart of Fairfax and Bob Olds of Brentwood, and for most of the final round Stewart remained there right with him, while Olds led the three early before fading down the stretch.
Despite opening with back-to-back bogeys on the first two holes, Stewart quickly got those strokes back with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5, before giving them right back on Nos. 6 and 8. After matching a bogey on No. 10 with Johnson to remain tied, Stewart took a brief lead with a par on No. 11. Johnson then took a brief lead with his birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, but Stewart answered right back with a birdie of his own on No. 14. With the two tied through 14 holes, the turning point of the duel came over the next two holes. Stewart took back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16, while Johnson made par on the par-4 15th and sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th. From there, all Johnson needed was two pars to be crowned champion.
As for Olds, a solid front nine of 37, which included eight pars and a bogey on the par-4 sixth, gave the 73-year-old a one-shot advantage at the turn. However, mistake after mistake hurt the Brentwood resident on the back nine as he bogeyed Nos. 10, 11, 14, 15 and 16 before finally converting his first birdie of the day on the par-5 18th.
Stewart finished with a 36-hole score of 150, 6-over-par to finish alone in second place, while Olds finished right behind him in third place at 151, 7-over-par. In a tie for fourth place at 152 were Jim McMurtey and Rich Paiko. McMurtey had one of the better rounds on the day following his first round 78 with a 74, while Paiko posted a 76 for the second straight day. Tied for sixth place at 154 were Jay Guerin, Bob Rowland, Lee Jaberjahn and Ronnie Truhett, while in a tie for 10th place at 155 were Gil Wymond, Dennis Allion, Gene Ackerman and Merton Goode.
October 28, 2013
by Spencer Sorensen
ELK GROVE – After the first round of the fourth annual NCGA Super Senior Championship three players are tied atop the leaderboard, likely promising a competitive final round. Ron Johnson, Earl Stewart and Bob Olds each fired a 2-over-par 74 on Monday at Valley Hi CC, and they all did so in different ways.
Johnson of Walnut Creek, the first to post, carded his 74 by making two birdies and four bogeys. The 67-year-old got off to a slow start on his day, bogeying three of his first seven holes (Nos. 11, 14 and 16). However, after making his fourth bogey on the par-4 second, Johnson finally posted a birdie on his card on No. 3. He then followed that with five straight pars before closing with a birdie on the par-4 ninth.
“Basically the difference [on the last seven holes] was just getting the ball on the clubface and hitting more fairways and greens,” said Johnson, who estimated that he only two greens in his first nine holes.
Stewart of Fairfax was the next to post and he fired his 74 by converting four birdies to go along with six bogeys. The most interesting part of his round came during Nos. 9-14 where he went bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie. Stewart credited his birdies by making two 12-foot putts on Nos. 10 and 12, while draining a 20-footer on No. 14. As for the bogeys the 69-year-old said his troubles were simply just missing the green and failing to get up-and-down. His other birdie came on par-4 first, while his three other bogeys occurred on Nos. 3, 16 and 18.
“I drove the ball extremely well [today], I don’t think I missed but a fairway or two. That really set me up on most of the holes,” said Stewart. “If you can hit it in the fairway and make a few putts that’s the key [to success].”
Olds, the third co-leader and last to post a 74, scored his round by also making two birdies and four bogeys, similar to Johnson. However, the 73-year-old had his birdies bookend his non-par holes converting them on Nos. 1 and 15, while taking bogeys on Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 13. Olds, who happens to be rooming with Stewart for the event, actually posted his round with opposite success than his roommate as he struggled with his driver on Monday, but exceled with his chipping and putting.
“I’d like to drive the ball better tomorrow,” said Olds.
The three co-leaders will battle it out on Tuesday, teeing off in the final group off the No. 1 tee at 9:33 a.m. Just in front of them and teeing off at 9:24 a.m. in a three-way tie for fourth place at 4-over-par, each posting rounds of 76 on Monday are Jeff Early, Bob Rowland and Rich Paiko. Defending champion Rob Thompson is currently in a tie for 39th place at 11-over-par after an opening round 83.