LAKE WALES, Fla. (April 12, 2012) -- A J Kroeger went wire-to-wire to capture the 51st Senior Amateur Championship at Lake Wales Country Club in Lake Wales on April 10-12.
A J Kroeger, of Apopka, outlasted the field of 144 players to win the 51st Senior Amateur Championship with a tournament total of three-under par 213. In the first round of play Kroeger posted a three-under par round of 69, which included six birdies and three bogies, to hold a one stroke advantage. A J expanded his lead after the second round of play, with another round of three-under par 69. Kroeger would take a two stroke lead into the final round after posting a two round total of six-under par 138.
In the final round, Kroeger played a flawless front nine, which included eight pars and one birdie to turn at one-under par 35. On the back nine, he stumbled a bit early with bogies on 10 and 12. After making par on number 13, Kroeger would double bogey number 14 and bogey the fifteenth hole. Kroeger stepped on the 16th tee tied for the lead, but walked off with a clutch birdie to regain the lead at three-under par. Kroeger stated, “The birdie on number 16 really got me going again after three putting the previous two holes." After making par on number 17, he would take a one stroke lead into the last hole of play. Kroeger said “I knew I had to hit a great shot on number 18, I was fighting back my nerves on the last few holes.” After a great approach shot, Kroeger would two putt for the victory. ”It feels amazing to win this Championship, and it is one of the biggest victories of my career, stated Kroeger.”
The 2010 Champion Bill Zylstra, from Ocklawaha, and the 2004 Champion Bruce Scamehorn, of Winter Haven, finished tied for second place with a tournament total of two-under par 214. Zylstra’s final round of four-under par 68 was the low round of the Championship. The Defending Champion, Jim Carley, of Ormond Beach, finished alone in ninth place after rounds of 72-73-73, for a tournament total of two-over par 218. Bruce Holliday, of Pensacola, provided the shot of the tournament with a hole-in-one on the par 3 fifth hole.
Since the number of entries received has always surpassed the capacity of the Championship, a qualifying stage was instituted in 2005. While 57 players earned exempt status through a variety of different means, more than 300 participants attempted to qualify at one of seven sites across the state, as competitors played 18 holes of stroke play hoping to advance to the Championship. Participants must be 55 or older to participate in the Championship. Players who advanced to the Championship compete in 54 holes of stroke play with a cut to the low 60 and ties after 36 holes.
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