VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — David Partridge is a Virginia State Golf Association champion once again.
Partridge, 60 (Hermitage Country Club, Manakin) defeated George Riefler, 59 (Sleepy Hole Golf Club, Suffolk) 2 up Friday in the championship match of the 68th VSGA Senior Amateur at Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club.
Partridge claimed his second Senior Amateur trophy – he won at The Homestead in 2011 – and his 12th VSGA title overall.
“As we talked about [Thursday], when you get to be 60 years old, you realize the time is growing very short so all of these opportunities are very special, and to win it again was really great,” Partridge, a mortgage banker, said. “I’m thrilled to win it, and hopefully it means I might be able to continue to compete at a reasonable level for another year or two.
“Whenever I win one of these…it is truly a humbling experience, it’s because you think about, I’ve won over 70 golf tournaments in my life either individual or four-ball tournaments. I’m not boastful about it, I’m very proud of that fact because I’ve been playing a long time…what brings you back to the ground floor is to think about Keith Decker. He’s won 25 state championships, more than twice my total, and he’s won well over 100 tournaments; that’s just amazing. I feel very fortunate to have accomplished a little bit in golf, and I’m not even in the same universe, he’s so good.”
Riefler, a quarterfinalist in 2014, was playing in his first final. His first appearance in the Senior Amateur came in 2011 when he lost a first-round match. He eliminated Decker, the tournament’s two-time defending champion, 1 up in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Both finalists birdied the first hole then Riefler birdied the second and fourth to take a 2 up lead.
“Fortunately, I righted the ship and managed to win the next three holes to get myself back in the match,” said Partridge who won the fifth with a bogey, the sixth with a birdie and the seventh with a par. “That was key because George is so steady that if I hadn’t begun to at least whittle down that lead a little bit, the pressure would have continued to build and that would not have been good.”
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued when Riefler won the eighth hole with birdie to draw even.
Partridge latched on to the lead for good by winning the ninth with a par and the 10th with a birdie. Riefler’s fifth birdie of the match won No. 12, but Partridge took No. 13 with a par.
Both made tough par putts to halve the 14th.
Riefler cut the deficit to 1 down again by winning the 15th with a par. The two halved the next two holes, the only time in the match they had the same score on consecutive holes.
At the finishing hole, a par-3 guarded by water on three sides with the hole cut in the back left corner of the green, Riefler, playing first, hit his tee shot 20 feet from the cup. Partridge hit his 4 to 5 feet from the cup.
“The wind was just howling. The pin’s over there on the left. I knew I had to hit a great shot, and I did come through,” Partridge said.
Riefler missed his putt and conceded Partridge’s for the final margin.
“It was a good thing because I was out of Rolaids and had run out of oxygen at that point,” Partridge said.
The tournament format is grueling. After two rounds of stroke play qualifying, the finalists play five matches in three days. One of Partridge’s matches ended on the 17th hole. The other four finished at 18 or beyond. All of Riefler’s matches made it to 18 or extra holes.
“I’ve played a lot of golf this week and I admit I’m tired, but it’s a pleasant tired and I’m thrilled about having won again,” Partridge said.
Both players will compete in the 10th renewal of the Senior Open of Virginia Sept. 17-18 at the Country Club of Virginia’s Westhampton Course.
This week has been a validation of his game for Riefler, who has a new job at Newport News Shipbuilding after 36 years of building aircraft carriers.
“There are times where my game is good enough to compete at this level. I play with a lot of these guys, and I feel like I can play with them if I can just get my game to that level at the right time,” he said. “I can take a lot away from this week, but if nothing else, it’s a confidence boost.
“I knew [the final] was going to be tough. David’s a seasoned veteran. No matter if I got up early on him or not, there wasn’t going to be any quit in him, and I knew I don’t quit. I knew even if I could stay up, it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s not supposed to be easy at this level. I hung in there and took him all the way to the 18th hole.”
Riefler had two goals going into the match: win or at least take the match to the limit.
“I attained one of the two. Unfortunately it wasn’t the one that would have been the ultimate dream.”
View results for Virginia Senior Amateur Golf Championship