PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Monterey resident Casey Boyns finally captured the title that kept getting away.
Boyns, a member of the California Golf Hall of Fame, shot a final round 75 at par-72 Spyglass Hill and held off a slew of challengers to finish at 2-over 146, winning the annual NCGA Senior Championship on Tuesday by one over runner-up Jeff Burda of Modesto.
With the win, Boyns increased his record for overall NCGA Amateur Tour titles to 21 (five Senior, 16 Regular). The NCGA Senior Championship may be the sweetest of them all.
“I’m pretty content now in regards to bucket list items,” the 59-year-old said. “It feels good to scratch this one off.”
In 2013, Boyns appeared to have his first Senior Championship title locked up. But that was before a disastrous quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-4 14th at Spyglass Hill. He’d go on to lose in a sudden-death playoff to Gary Vanier.Last year, a front-nine score of 46 in the first round doomed Boyns. He’d finish the championship two behind winner Jim Knoll.
“That loss in 2013 really hurt,” Boyns said. “I thought I had it won. After that I remember thinking, ‘I’m never going to win it.’ I know the older you get, the harder it gets.”
This time around, even an under the weather Boyns came through.
Having entered the day a shot behind leader Conrad Nilmeier, Boyns got going early with a pair of birdies on the 3rd and 5th holes to get to a total of 3-under, giving him the outright lead.
But then the past raised its ugly head. On hole No.6, he’d card a bogey, and on the 7th he’d card a double-bogey. Another bogey on the 9th and he was back to 1-over for the championship, three behind Nilmeier and one stroke behind Woodbridge Golf and Country Club member Mitch Harrison.
Also in the mix was Burda, a two-time former champion who was at 2-over after a front-nine 38.
“Suddenly I was hitting the ball all over the place,” said Boyns, who had a front-nine 38. “I’m going, ‘Oh no, not again.’”
After making the turn, to make things even more interesting the wind picked up. While Boyns would hold steady, Harrison and Nilmeier saw their scorecards blow up. Burda, meanwhile, was unable to make enough of a push to catch Boyns.
Following a great up and down on No.10, Boyns picked up another stroke with a birdie on the par-5 11th. On both the 12th and 13th, where he’d go long left and over the green, Boyns again managed to get up and down for par.
On the same stretch of holes (No.10 through No.13), Nilmeier went 3-over with three bogeys. Harrison went 2-over with a pair of bogeys and Burda went 1-over with a bogey.
Upon reaching the 14th tee, Boyns was at a total of even par, one ahead of Harrison, two ahead of Nilmeier and three in front of Burda.
“With Conrad (Nilmeier) making those bogeys it turned into a four shot swing over those holes,” Boyns said. “From then on I was like, ‘Okay, now I’m in position to win this thing. I just need to par out.”
Boyns would stumble in with a back-to-back bogeys on the 17th and 18th, but it wouldn’t matter. On the back-nine, Burda shot 37, while Harrison had a 40 and Nilmeier shot 44.
Burda had the best chance to catch Boyns, but had to settle for pars on his final five holes for a 75.
“Casey let me finish a stroke behind,” said Burda with a smile. “He played great.”
Nilmeier, who was looking for his first win in over a year, followed up a 70 with an 80 to fall into a tie for fifth. Harrison, 56, finished third at 148 after a 77.
“I was confused by the wind on the back-nine,” Nilmeier said. “I flew a wedge over the 15th green and on No.16 I hit it through the fairway.”
While the wind left some players guessing, Boyns, who was battling a cold, felt at ease in it. The longtime Pebble Beach caddie has looped at Spyglass Hill hundreds of times.
“It certainly helps knowing the course,” Boyns said. “The wind swirls around the trees. Some holes it swirls around the same way.”
The low rounds of the day came from defending NCGA Senior Match Play champion Dan Bieber and defending NCGA Super Senior Championship champion Herb Jensen, who each shot 72. Jensen, who turns 66 in June, finished alone in fourth place at 149, while Bieber joined Nilmeier and three others at T-5.
Defending champion Jim Knoll had a 79, falling into a tie for 15th.“With the weather conditions it was hard,” Knoll said. “It was also hard to make putts.”
View results for NCGA Senior Golf Championship (Northern California)