PEBBLE BEACH – Jeff Burda showed who’s boss.
The Modesto resident began the day just one stroke ahead of a field stacked with the state’s best senior amateur players and captured a wire-to-wire victory at the Califonia Senior Amateur Championship with a final-round four-under-par 68.
In the process, Burda became only the second player in the event’s history to win back-to-back victories (Jim McMurtrey won in ‘94 and ‘95) and equalled the tournament scoring record of five-under-par 211, set by Ted Lyford in 2002.
The 56-year-old carded a first-round 66 which gave him a six-stroke lead, but struggled the second day when the wind kicked up and posted a five-over-par 77. “I knew a lot of good players were close by,” said the Del Rio CC member. However, being chased proved to be a motivator for Burda who notched three birdies on the front nine with tricky hole locations. He rolled in a birdie on No. 2, then two-putted for another on the par-5 fourth hole and secured a third birdie at the par-3 6th. “When I found out I had a seven stroke lead at the turn I was a little surprised.”
The 2008 Senior Player-of-the-Year only missed one green in the final round and backed it up with solid putting all week for an eight-stroke victory. Burda had been playing well leading up to the championship, he recently made it to the round of 16 at the 2009 U.S. Senior Amateur, pocketed a win at the NCGA Senior Match Play and made a strong appearance at the Crump Cup at Pine Valley.
One of the unlikliest stories of the week emerged from Antioch’s Mark Miller. The Roddy Ranch GC member fired a final-round one-under-par 71 to nab second place at three-over-par 219. Miller’s finish earned him just enough points to capture the 2009 Senior Player-of-the-Year honor, edging out the decorated Gary Vanier, who was unable to compete due to an injury.
Boyd Martin of Corona del Mar played consistent all week with rounds of 73-73-74, 220 and took third place after a five-foot putt narrowly missed on the final hole to force a playoff with Miller.
View results for California Senior Amateur Golf Championship