AURORA, Colo. (June 14, 2013) — As a 63-year-old, Harry Johnson could have entered the CGA Super-Senior Match Play this week.
But where's the fun in that?
Instead, Johnson got to prove he could compete -- and beat -- some of the best 50-something (and 60-something) amateurs in the state at the CGA Senior Match Play Championship.
The Vail resident, who plays out of Eagle Ranch Golf Course, won the last three holes Friday afternoon to defeat fellow Western Slope golfer Tom Musselman of The Bridges in Montrose, 2 up, and claim the Senior Match title at Canongate at Blackstone in Aurora.
In the process, Johnson became one of the oldest champions -- if not the oldest -- of the CGA Senior Match Play. Though Les Fowler won a CGA Stroke Play at age 65 in 1989, and Jerry Kidney earned the same title at age 63 in 2011, it's a rarity for a golfer that age to claim state senior amateur championships in Colorado.
"I'm playing as good a golf as I've played in my life, although I know my skills are diminishing -- eyesight, stamina," said Johnson, a runner-up in the 2011 CGA Mid-Amateur and the 2012 Senior Stroke Play. "But a lot of times (good shots) seem to come at the right time. Maybe that's the good side of getting old: I know when to turn it on."
It was the first individual CGA championship for Johnson, who has been playing in the association's tournaments since the 1980s. (He did win the senior division of the 2008 CGA Two-Man Team with Ken Sady.)
What made this week's championship particularly notable is that not only did a 63-year-old win it, but he did it after playing 39 holes on Friday -- 18 in the championship match and 21 in the semifinals. And over the final two days of the event, Johnson played 77 holes.
"The adrenaline gets you through," he said. "It seemed whenever I was about to pack it in, I'd get a little help (from opponents)."
In the end, when Musselman missed his par putt on 18 and conceded Johnson's 3-foot par to end the match, the emotion came out and Johnson threw a fist-pump, Tiger Woods-style.
"I'm very elated," the 2011 CGA Senior Player of the Year said. "I wish there were some people here to share it with. It means a lot. The players I've been playing with for 20 years -- Larry Netherton, Kelly Crone, John Olive, those guys ... It's just special. When you look at the names on that trophy -- Dave Delich, my friend Ken Sady -- it's very, very special."
In Friday's final match, neither player led by more than 1 up until the last hole. Musselman, who along with Johnson lost in a playoff at the 2012 CGA Senior Stroke Play, went 1 up after a par on the 15th hole.
But Johnson won 16 with a 6-foot par putt, 17 with a birdie after getting up and down from the greenside rough, and 18 with a conceded par.
Musselman, meanwhile, struggled with his putter late in the round after being stellar with it most of the week. The 53-year-old missed a 6-foot par putt on No. 16, a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 17, and a 4-foot par putt on No. 18.
"I'm very disappointed," he said. "I putted well all week, and all of a sudden when it counted, I couldn't execute."
Whatever the case, Johnson felt fortunate to prevail, both Friday afternoon and in the morning.
"I felt in this (match), I beat a better player for whatever reason," he said. "In the match this morning against Mark Franz, I thought his game was better than mine, but somehow I just prevailed. On a given day, anybody can beat anybody. What I'm saying is, maybe it just went my way; that type of deal. It just worked out."
In Friday morning's semifinals, Johnson was extended even further than in the afternoon, needing 21 holes to overcome Franz, who plays out of Saddle Rock Golf Course. Musselman eased past Flatirons Golf Course superintendent Dave Brown 6 and 4 in the other semifinal.
Mooney Rallies to Win Second CGA Super-Senior Match Play Title: In the CGA Super-Senior Match Play for golfers 60 and older, Patrick Mooney of Colorado Golf Club won the title for the second time in four years, beating Bruce Hayes of Heritage at Westmoor on Friday, 4 and 2.
"I'm happy and I'm relieved," Mooney said afterward.
The 65-year-old, who also won the CGA Senior Match Play in 2000, was 3 down after four holes to Hayes before going 1 under for the rest of the day to rally for the victory.
"It's fun to win tournaments at my age," said Mooney, the 2001 Utah Senior Open champion. "It's very rare I win anything now that doesn't have 'senior' in the title somewhere. But it's very satisfying to be able to still compete -- and win.
"But at the same time, I'm very thankful because it's difficult. As you get older, you can't stay focused as well. My mind slips and wonders. It's hard to keep in the moment and hit shots. I could be thinking about what bottle of wine I'm going to open for dinner. That doesn't lead to good golf shots most of the time."
View results for Colorado Senior Match Play Golf Championship