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NCGA Senior Four-Ball: Playoff Win for Donnelly, Camaione
Steve Donnelly & James Camaione (L), Randy Haag & David Nelson (R)<br>(NCGA photo)
Steve Donnelly & James Camaione (L), Randy Haag & David Nelson (R)
(NCGA photo)

PEBBLE BEACH, CA (April 6, 2018) - Steve Donnelly and James Camaione were already aware of some of the big names on the NCGA Senior Four-Ball trophy. The duo will now have their own names engraved, having beaten one of the big names to earn it.

Donnelly and Camaione, both members at Bayonet/Black Horse GC, shot a final round 2-under 69 and defeated Randy Haag and David Nelson on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff Friday at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course to win the 20th version of the championship. On the second hole (par-3 2nd), Camaione two-putted for par after Nelson went out-of-bounds and Haag three-putted, his first attempt coming from off the green.

For Camaione, it was his first NCGA victory. Donnelly’s previous NCGA victories came in net events such as the Mixed Spring, where he competes with his wife, Dorothy.

“I don’t think so much about winning. You remember the losses more before wins. I’m numb after this,” Camaione said.

The win was just as special for Donnelly. “I can’t get over winning, and all the past winners. Guys like Randy (Haag), Gary Vanier, Casey Boyns, Jim Knoll. We did the same thing as them.”

A day after carding a 63 to get within one of Haag and Nelson, Donnelly and Camaione got off to a sluggish start, posting a front-nine 1-over 36. “It was rough,” Donnelly said. “Both of us were playing tight.”

On the back-nine, however, the two got going thanks in part to a 30-foot birdie putt from Camaione on No.10. It was the first time that Donnelly and Camaione held the outright lead.

Then the see-sawing began.On the 14th, Camaione made a 24-footer to take a two shot lead. But Haag and Nelson had some magic of their own, as Haag would hole out from the fairway for an eagle on the par-4 16th to tie things up. A hole later on the 17th, Donnelly and Camione each made par to Haag and Nelson’s bogeys, but on the 18th the script again flipped, as Haag and Nelson made birdie while Donnelly and Camaione had to settle for par leaving both squads at 11-under 202.

“Those last six holes Steve hit some great shots that kept us in it,” Camaione said.

With both teams scoring par on the first hole of the playoff, it was on to the par-3 2nd. Nelson’s tee shot hit a mound on the right side and bounded out-of-bounds. Haag’s tee shot went through the green to the back. Both Donnelly and Camaione struck their shots into the heart of the green.

“When David’s ball went OB, we figured Randy would need a 3,” Camaione said. “He just left his first putt short. We got lucky.”

Haag, who was looking for his third straight title as an individual (he won in 2016 and 2017 playing with Chip Lutz), lamented his attempt. But it wasn’t Haag and Nelson’s lone missed opportunity. In both the second and final rounds, he and Nelson were in the middle of the fairway on the par-4 14th. Both days, they’d score bogeys after mis-hitting their wedges.

“We didn’t play well enough to win. We had too many bogeys. It’s golf, those things happen,” Haag said. “It was exciting though.”

Third place went to the team of Casey Boyns and Jeff Britton, who came in at 206 following a final round 65. Boyns and Britton defeated Tony Padilla and Dick Cartmell in a card-off.

Super Seniors

Jim Knoll and Kemp Richardson caught fire at the right time.

Knoll, a record five-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year, and Richardson, a two-time winner of both the U.S. Senior Amateur and British Senior Amateur, carded a stellar 8-under 63 to finish at 11-under 202, defeating the runner-up team of Mark Miller and Frank Pieper by five strokes.

Knoll and Richardson, who began the day three behind Miller and Pieper, carded nine birdies and just one bogey in making their charge. Knoll, who recorded his first NCGA Super Senior title and eighth career NCGA Senior crown, had four birdies of his own on the back-nine including one on the par-4 16th that left Miller and Pieper shaking their heads. From the fairway bunker, Knoll, 65, hit a quick-running shot that hit a mound on the green, with the ball stopping within 3 feet of the flagstick. If his ball hadn’t hit the mound, it possibly would’ve ended up on the 18th hole.

“I just bladed it out,” Knoll said. “Overall, we got off to a good start. We made a lot of birdies early.”

The 71-year-old Richardson’s contributions included a pair of birdies on the par-3 6th and 15th holes. “If you’re going to play, you may as well win,” Richardson said.

Miller and Pieper, who have both won the Senior Four-Ball title but never a Super Senior crown, fell back to second place at 207 following a 71. Third place went to the team of Chuck Richesin and Bob Thomason at 209 after a 70. Richesin and Thomason had been the defending champs.

ABOUT THE NCGA Senior Four-Ball

First played in 1999, the NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship is a two-person, better-ball scratch event for senior (age 55+) and super senior (65+) golfers. The format is 54 holes four-ball stroke play (18 holes per day) over three days. After 36 holes the field will be cut to the low 30 teams and ties.

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