(Southern California Golf Association)
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (June 25, 2013) — It looked like it was going to be a two-man race. Heading into the final nine holes of the 2013 SCGA Senior Amateur Championship, Greg Hetzer and Steven Fink were neck-and-neck, each sitting at the top of the leaderboard at 3-under par. Fink had held a share of the lead after Round 1, and Hetzer had dominated Virginia CC's front nine Tuesday morning, recording two birides seven pars. But when the championship concluded Tuesday afternoon, neither of them were holding the trophy.
Instead, Gary Vanier, a member of Moreno Valley Ranch GC, came from behind with a very impressive final nine holes to steal away the championship and win his first SCGA Senior Amateur title.
"I got into a groove there towards the end and was just playing really consistently," said Vanier. "And Fink came back down to earth a bit, so that helped as well."
Playing together in the final pairing of the day, Fink and Vanier found themselves tied for the lead heading into the 18th hole, a long par 5. A perfect drive by Vanier into the middle of the fairway set him up for what was eventually a two-foot par putt for the victory. Vanier put together rounds of 70 and 69 for a two-day total of 3-under par 139, while Fink, Hetzer and Gary Singer finished one stroke behind in a tie for second place.
The low round of the tournament came off the clubs of Craig Calkins, who followed up a first-round 74 with an impressive 67 on Tuesday that included six birdies.
Vanier is no stranger to major amateur titles, having won the California Amateur Championship back in 1982 at Pebble Beach. In 2007, he won the CGA Senior Amateur Championship at Poppy Hills GC. He will head to San Gabriel CC later this year in an attempt to win his second CGA Senior title and complete the "California Senior Sweep" for 2013, having now won this year's SCGA Senior and NCGA Senior titles.
Round 1 leaders Fink and 2011 Champion Jeff Burda finished T2 and T7, respectively. Fink seemed to be cruising along Tuesday, finding himself 3-under par through 11 holes, before falling apart and carding a bogey on four of the final seven holes. Burda followed up his first-round 69 with a second-round 75, struggling with his putter most of the day.The top-10 finishers earn exemptions into this year's CGA Senior Amateur Championship, which will be held Nov. 4-6 at San Gabriel CC. The same group also earns exemptions into next year's SCGA Senior Championship.