Ron Vannelli wins MGA Senior Amateur in playoff
-- photo MGA
-- photo MGA

JACKSON, N.J. (May 8, 2012) – Former Met Amateur, MGA Senior Amateur, and MGA Player of the Year Ron Vannelli of Metuchen added another title to his record by defeating Tom Trakoval of Port Jefferson with a par on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to capture the 85th MGA Senior Amateur Championship at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, N.J.

Vannelli, who held a one-shot lead going into the final round, was able to get up and down from behind the 18th green in the playoff, while Trakoval’s three-foot par putt just missed the right edge. Tom Trakoval lost in a playoff at the MGA Senior Amateur.

Vannelli, the 2005 MGA Player of the Year, shot a final-round 77 and adds another Senior Amateur Championship trophy to his shelf (he won at Wee Burn in 2008), in addition to his 2005 Met Amateur victory at The Creek. While he struggled a bit on the greens today with four three-putts, he credited his crisp ballstriking and stellar tee game to his victory.

“It’s great to win an event, and any MGA event is fabulous, no question about that,” Vannelli, 64, said. “I struck the ball pretty well and drove it great. I think I missed two fairways."

Lightning-fast greens and gusty conditions made scoring much more difficult on day two. Only eight of the 33 players managed to break 80. Trakoval, 55, outplayed the field for most of the day in his first MGA Senior Amateur appearance. He shot the best round of the day, a 2-over-74, but a three-putt from 50 feet on the 36th hole of regulation allowed Vannelli, who was in the 18th fairway in the group behind him, to get into the playoff.

“I gave myself a chance,” Trakoval said. “I knew I had to play a good round because Ron is a great player. These greens are so exact, when you hit it perfect it goes and in, but if you hit it on an edge a lot of times it’s going to spin out. But I made plenty of them today.”

The event began on Monday with a full field of 168 competitors, 33 of whom survived the cut of eight-over-par 80. Al Small of Fairmount, the 2009 champion of this event, finished third after a final-round 75 (152), while Jim Hamburger of McCann shot a 77 (153) and Jim Graham of Winged Foot shot an 80 (153) to round out the top five. Defending champion John Ervasti of Sleepy Hollow couldn’t duplicate his magic of 2011 and finished in a tie for ninth. Eleven-time MGA Major winner George Zahringer III fired a 78 to finish tied for sixth.

The Senior Amateur also has one-day flight competitions. The winner in the Legends division (age 70-plus) was two-time Senior Amateur winner Bob Housen of Manasquan River (77); Masters division (ages 65-69) champion was Gerald Garber of Lake Success (75); Super Senior division (60-64) winner was Graham (73); and Senior division (55-59) winner was Nelson Debow of Newton (75).

ABOUT THE MET Senior Amateur

The MET Senior Amateur is one of the oldest senior competitions in the country, dating back to 1928 and preceding the U.S. Senior Amateur by 27 years.

This tournament is a two-day 36-hole stroke play competition with a cut after round one. Senior, Super Senior, Masters and Legends divisions. Must be a member of an MGA member club.

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