September 27 – 29
Sept. 29. 2017
Sacramento resident Tony Padilla slammed the door on any thoughts of a potential playoff.
Stuck in a duel with NCGA legend Randy Haag, Padilla finished with the loudest bang, draining a 70-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th Friday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course to walk away with the title at the annual NCGA Senior Championship. For Padilla, who turned 55 in May, it was his first victory in only two starts as a senior.
“Wow, it feels great,” said Padilla, who finished with a 54-hole total of 3-under 210, edging Haag by one.
Padilla’s good fortune began a hole earlier on the par-4 17th when, trailing Haag by a shot, his approach landed and rolled to within two feet of the flagstick for a birdie. Haag’s birdie putt, meanwhile, lipped out, leaving the two tied headed to the 18th.
On the pivotal 18th, Haag’s drive landed in the fairway bunker, forcing him to lay up. Padilla, meanwhile, was dead center, and took advantage of the position, knocking his second shot on the green. Haag hit a pretty third shot that stopped within seven feet of the pin, but it didn’t matter after Padilla’s heroics.
“When I saw Randy’s shot into the green I had a feeling that I had to make my eagle putt to win. But you’re not really thinking about making it,” Padilla said.
For Haag, it was yet another cruel ending to what has been a cruel stretch. In the Olympic Club member’s last four events–the most recent being The Crump Cup–he’s had at least a share of the lead heading to the 17th hole. He’s gone winless in each of the four events–two of the losses coming when he made a late double-bogey. This time though, it was Padilla’s birdie-eagle finish that did him in.
“At least I like all the guys who ended up winning,” quipped Haag, who shot a final round 70. “I haven’t experienced a run like this in all my years.”
A premonition of things to come had come earlier at the 14th. Trailing by two shots at the time, Padilla appeared headed to at least a bogey as his ball sat just off the green, about 25 feet from the flagstick. He’d save par by making the putt.
“I hit a bad drive on the 14th. That could’ve been a disastrous hole,” Padilla said. “I had a couple of really good breaks today.”
In last year’s final round, Haag also played in the final pairing. He’d get stuck watching eventual winner Casey Boyns make putt after putt.
“Casey made every putt and apologized,” Haag said.
Padilla, a member at Winchester CC, could just be getting started. A fomer mini tour player (including Hogan Tour), he had his amateur status reinstated a year ago. He’s played in other NCGA events, but has mostly competed with the younger corps. At this year’s NCGA Valley Amateur, he’d finish in 10th place.
The decision to have his amateur status reinstated came after his son graduated high school. Prior, Padilla had helped coach his son.
“I found myself sitting at home, getting bored. I was playing golf, but just at my club,” Padilla said. “I figured shoot, I may as well get my amateur status back.”
Just like that, he also now has his first NCGA senior major win.
“So far, it’s a really good start,” Padilla said with a smile.
Fellow Olympic Club members Bruce Hanavan and Mike Staskus finished T-3 at 219 after rounds of 75 and 77, respectively. Hanavan was awarded third place in a card-off.
Sept. 28, 2017
The 2016 NCGA Senior Championship had a final round threesome featuring NCGA legends Casey Boyns and Randy Haag. At the end of that one, Boyns walked away with his second straight title.
This time around, Haag will be joined by another legend, Gary Vanier. Boyns is not playing due to a schedule conflict.
Haag and Vanier, both members at Olympic Club, will enter the final round tied for the 36-hole lead at 1-under 141 after rounds of 71 and 72, respectively on Thursday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course. Haag, in search of his first NCGA Senior Championship win, posted three birdies and three bogeys on what was another spectacular day of pristine weather. Vanier, who’s looking to join the list of three-time winners of the event, posted two birdies and three bogeys, all on the front-nine. On the back, the 2009 and 2013 champion had nine pars.
Joining Haag and Vanier in the final threesome will be Winchester CC member Tony Padilla. Coming off a first round 72, Padilla shot a 70 to put him at a two-day total of 142. Also at 142, just one stroke behind the co-leaders, is Granite Bay GC member Jeff Hoffman and Olympic Club member Mike Staskus. Hoffman, winner of this year’s NCGA Senior Valley Amateur, had a second round 70. Staskus shot his second straight 71.
First round leader Bruce Hanavan slipped to a 76, but is still within striking range at 144.
The cutline (low 33 and ties) came at 14-over 156. Friday’s final round will begin at 7:30 a.m., with the leaders going off at 9:10 a.m.
Sept. 27, 2017
At least for a day, it was all about the guys from the Olympic Club.
Four players–leader Bruce Hanavan, Gary Vanier, Randy Haag and Mike Staskus–who are members of the esteemed club all came up solid in Wednesday’s first round of this week’s annual NCGA Senior Championship at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
The 59-year-old Hanavan, who paced the pack, couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the championship, opening with an eagle 3 on the par-5 1st. From there, he’d tack on three birdies to go against just two bogeys to finish with a 68.
Just a stroke behind at 69 is Vanier, the defending NCGA Super Senior Player of the Year. Vanier, who now lives part-time in Idaho, also got off to a quick start. Beginning his round on the par-5 10th, the two-time NCGA Senior champ (2009, 2013) rolled off three straight birdies to open his day. He’d post two more birdies to go with two bogeys the rest of the way.
Haag didn’t have a flurry, but he’d also get off to a nice start with a 70. The current leader in the NCGA Senior Player of the Year points standings had four birdies and three bogeys.
Staskus, who has a habit of playing well at Poppy Hills, opened with a 71 and is tied for fourth with Matt Vukicevich, a member at Fountaingrove Golf and Athletic.
Following Thursday’s second round, a cut will be made with the low 33 (and ties) advancing to Friday’s final round.
Sept. 24, 2017
First played in 1962, the NCGA Senior Championship is the association’s premier event for players aged 55 and over. Hundreds of players at multiple sites around the region attempt to qualify for the championship each year. Traditionally, the final field has played 36 holes of stroke play at a different venue each year; however, beginning in 2009 the tournament has been played annually at Spyglass Hill. In 2016 it moved to Poppy Hills.
The tournament record was set in 2008 by Jeff Burda who beat the previous record by five strokes with a 135 at Saddle Creek GC. The low tournament score at Spyglass Hill GC was Michael Brannan’s 142 in 2012, the only under-par 36-hole total since the tournament has been played there on annual basis. Jim McMurtrey has won the championship a record five times (1990, 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2000). Cornelius Bertolone (1963, 1964 and 1966) and Kai Thomsen (1988, 1989 and 1991) are tied with second most victories, each winning three times a piece.
With a victory this year, two-time defending champion Casey Boyns will become the first player to three-peat.