DANVILLE, VA (June 3, 2005) –– Suffolk’s J.P. Leigh, 57, shot a final round 5-under-par 65 to post a three-shot victory as the 20th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Stroke Play Championship concluded today at Danville Golf Club (6,194 yards, par 35-35—70).
Leigh notched his third-straight win in the event, becoming the first golfer to three-peat since New Market’s Bob Moyers (1991-93) registered a trio of titles. Richmond’s Stan Fischer finished second, firing 2-under-par 68, while a cluster of five other golfers shot 72. The championship was reduced to 18 holes after Thursday’s first round action was rained out.
The reigning VSGA senior golfer of the year, Leigh (pictured left) played nearly flawless golf, registering six birdies against one bogey. Riding solid ball-striking throughout the day, Leigh, playing in the final grouping, got off to a strong start, birdieing three of the first seven holes. He drained putts inside four feet at the par-4 second and fourth holes following pinpoint 8-iron approaches. Thereafter, he knocked in a 15-footer at the par-4 seventh hole to turn in three under. Fischer, playing three groups ahead of Leigh, was one off the lead after turning in two under.
Leigh continued his solid play on the inward half, birdieing No. 11 after sticking his pitching wedge second shot to within three feet and made a 15-footer for birdie at No. 14 to get to five under for the day. Following the only blemish on his card at No. 17, Leigh put an exclamation point on his third straight win in the championship, knocking his 8-iron approach to three feet at No. 18 before sinking the ensuing birdie putt.
“This is the best that I’ve played this year,” said Leigh, who hit all 14 fairways. “I played great the whole day and with the caliber of senior play in the field, this feels great. When the tournament is 36 holes, you know that you really have to grind it out, but since it’s 18, you know you really have to play start to finish.”
Fischer, who played the back nine in even par to garner runner-up honors, notched a four-shot triumph in the 60-64 age group. The 2005 Senior Fox-Puss winner, Fischer missed some short birdie putts throughout the day, but knew that Leigh’s steady play in soggy, difficult conditions throughout the round was tough to overcome.
“I was shocked when I got to the turn, I’m two under and they tell me that the guy [Leigh] behind me is three under. That’s some strong playing,” said Fischer, who finished second in the senior division of the W. Townes Lea Invitational at Danville Golf Club earlier in the spring. “Overall, I’m pleased with the way I played. I shot about what I should’ve.”
Leigh, who battled putting problems earlier in the season, had little trouble negotiating the undulating putting surfaces at Danville Golf Club en route to recording a seven-shot victory in the 55-59 age bracket.
“Today, I just got it going,” he said. Leigh posted his first victory of 2005. “It’s nice to get it going.”
Leigh’s 2003 State Senior Stroke Play victory came at Nansemond River Golf Club in Suffolk, and he won last year at James River Country Club in Newport News.
In addition to Leigh and Fischer, Roanoke’s Ned Baber carded 74 to win the 65-69 age bracket, while Glade Hill’s Bill Chase claimed the super senior division (ages 70-and-older) by turning in a 76. Chase posted his second-ever victory in the super senior bracket, having also triumphed in 2003 at Nansemond River.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com membership required).