RICHMOND, Va. — Dave Pulk has won championships on Ohio’s Senior Amateur Circuit. He captured the title at the Middle Atlantic Senior Amateur in July. But since moving to the Commonwealth, a win in a Virginia State Golf Association event has eluded him.
That changed Friday when he made a back-nine charge and surged to the championship at the 10th Senior Open of Virginia, held at The Country Club of Virginia’s Westhampton Course. Pulk posted a 4-under 66 and finished the two-day event with an aggregate 134 (68-66) to claim his first Virginia title.
“I’ve played in a lot of VSGA events, and I finally was able to win one, and I’m really, really happy,” said Pulk, who earned the Harry W. Easterly Jr. Trophy for his four-stroke victory. Amateur Tom Grady (Shenandoah Valley GC, Marshall) shot a 2-under 68 to finish in second place with an aggregate 138.
Rick Schuller (Swaders Sports Park, Chester) shot an even-par 70 Friday to finish at 140, earning low professional honors by one stroke over Carl Filipowicz (GC at Brickshire, Providence Forge).
Pulk (Two Rivers CC, Williamsburg) trailed amateur Neil Davis (Birdwood GC, Charlottesville) by a stroke after 12 holes. He pulled even on No. 13 by making par after Davis made bogey. He took control with birdies on three of the final four holes, including a kick-in birdie on No. 15.
Davis, who was tied for the lead heading into Friday’s second round, was undone by short-game struggles down the stretch. Combine that with Pulk’s excellent play, and what was a tight tournament turned into a runaway.
“I got into spots you just can’t get into,” Davis said. “Like going long on 16. You can’t be over that green. That grass is too thick, and you try to chip out of it, and it just grabs the club. … I was pleased with the first 13 holes. It was 14 and in that just undid me.”
Prior to Thursday’s first round, Pulk hadn’t played a round in 12 days, making him a little uneasy. Still, he shot 68 to enter Friday in a three-way tie for the lead with Davis and professional Scott Ezell (Birdwood GC, Charlottesville). Ezell turned at even par but made consecutive bogeys to open the back nine. He shot a 5-over 41 on the back to fall out of contention. He finished in a tie for sixth.
Grady’s day was the polar opposite. He was 2 over through seven holes and made back-to-back birdies at Nos. 9 and 10 to stabilize his round. He birdied his final two holes to move into second place, a strong finish for the 2007 Senior Open champion.
“He’s one of the top senior players in the state,” Grady said of Pulk. “I wasn’t going to catch him. I had to shoot better. I figured I’d have to go at least four or five under to catch him today. … I got as much out of the round as I possibly could. I’m happy.”
Three others turned in under-par rounds on Friday, with all three shooting 1-under 69: 2008 champion Jon Corliss (Heron Ridge GC, Virginia Beach), professional Tim Lewis (Kempsville Greens GC, Virginia Beach), and professional Dean Sumner (Quinton Oaks GC, Callao).
Pulk capped his round by rolling in an 18 footer for birdie on the par-5 18th hole. Next up is a trip to the U.S. Senior Amateur in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey next week. Pulk will be making his third trip to the Senior Amateur, and he hopes to improve upon his best finish, when he advanced to the round of 32 in match play during his first try.
“Today, after having that round under my belt yesterday, I felt a little more comfortable,” Pulk said. “I struck the ball really well today. I’m really proud of the way I finished.”
View results for Senior Open of Virginia Golf Championship