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Cal Senior Am: Burda finishes strong

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Sept. 17, 2008)--Jeff Burda’s initial season of senior competition was expected to be good. But perhaps no one foresaw the 55-year-old Modesto resident claiming eight titles capped by the CGA State Senior Championship today at Poppy Hills.

With an epic back-nine charge, Burda overcame the five-shot deficit he started the day with to produce a one-stroke win over runner-up and the two-day leader Jim Knoll.

“I played pretty well all three days but today my putter came around,” said Burda.

The Del Rio member turned at two-under, highlighted by a 40-foot bogey save on the 8th after his only bad shot of the round landed out of bounds. Beginning with the 9th hole, then, Burda would birdie six of his last 10 holes, affirming his nickname, “Tiger Burda,” from his fellow senior competitors.

Runner-up Knoll posted the score of the championship in the first round, a tournament-record 64. But the Sunnyvale resident was unable to sustain the lead in the final round against the Burda juggernaut. “He’s getting me back for last week,” Knoll said with a laugh in reference to the NCGA Valley Senior Championship. Similar to today’s final round, Knoll came from deep in the pack with a final-round 65 to claim a one-shot win over Burda.

The runner-up leaves for the U.S. Senior Amateur in Texas later this week.

Howie Knodt of Chula Vista grabbed third place, providing a fitting coda to a year that saw him qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur championships.

Burda’s eight titles in 2008 include the NCGA Senior, State Fair, Modesto, Madera, Manteca and Sacramento City championships, Sacramento County and the State Senior.

He is the first player since Jim McMurtrey in 1995 to win both the NCGA Senior and State Senior in the same year. Burda’s game held up against regular amateurs, too. He qualified for match play and advanced to the round of 16 in the State Amateur at Lakeside GC in June. With the win, Burda has almost mathematically claimed the NCGA Senior Player of the Year award.

“This is a huge win,” Burda said. “This is the biggest championship in the state and to win it is phenomenal.”

Northern Californians, perhaps due to a familiarity with host venue Poppy Hills which was playing to 6,479 yards and a par 71 because of renovation work on the 2nd hole, have now claimed four of the last five CGA State Senior titles.

Fellow competitor (and hole-in-one maker in the final round – a 4-iron on the 11th hole) Doug Johnson of Fresno perhaps summed up Burda’s day and season best when he commented on the champion’s chip into the 18th green: “Jeffrey, it just doesn’t get any better than that. That is some good (stuff) right there.”

--NCGA story

View results for California Senior Amateur Golf Championship

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