CHOUDRANT, LA. (May 18, 2012) -- Consider it a score settled for Monroe native Robert Shelton.
Shooting even-par 72 and catching Indiana ace Ron Carter on the 18th hole, Shelton then rammed home a 15-foot birdie on the second playoff hole to grab victory in the 19th annual Jim Rivers Senior Invitational Friday at Squire Creek.
Shelton’s victory, his second at the Rivers classic (previously winning in 2007), makes amends, somewhat, for the 2009 duel between these two when Carter prevailed by a shot for the crown, despite a brilliant final round 5-under-par 67 by Shelton, the best score in this event since it moved to Squire Creek in 2008.
Both men went into Friday’s round trailing 55-year-old Randy King, Carter by six shots and Shelton by eight, but the Kilgore, Tex., product ran into difficulty early and was never a factor on the back nine.
Instead, the round turned into a match-play style shootout that became deadlocked for the first time on No. 13 when Shelton birdied and Carter bogeyed. It stayed deadlocked until Shelton bogeyed No. 16 out of a bunker, setting the stage for his par on No. 18 that forced a playoff when Carter’s par putt slid by the hole from 12 feet.
Of his winning putt in the playoff, Shelton, now a long-time resident of Lafayette, said, “My thought process was, ‘Here’s your shot. Be aggressive. Knock it in the back of the hole. And, I hit the perfect putt.’”
Carter said, “I thought I had made the putt to win on No. 18, but it stayed just a little high. It is always fun to play against Robert. You know going in that it will be a battle. We are friends and I congratulate him, but I also have to say that second place sucks.”
Carter was also second last year, one shot behind Corky Nelson of Dallas, who finished ninth this year.
Shelton’s even-par round was the day’s lowest, matched only by Jerry Hudgins of Houston, Tex., who tied for third place two shots back along with 2010 champ Bev Hargraves, who carded 73 Friday.
In the super senior category, amazing Gerald Siemons of Jefferson City, Mo., just kept rolling along, capturing his second straight title in this division after also dominating the overall senior category with championships in 2001, 2006 and 2008.
Siemons said, “I really didn’t play well the entire week, but I putted extremely well. That was definitely the key to this win.”
Mike Hopson of Lufkin, Tex., the former golf coach for Stephen F. Austin University, finished with a solid 73 to grab second place among super seniors, four shots back of Siemons and one stroke ahead of former Louisiana Tech golf coach Jean Hall, who had rounds of 75-76-76--227.
Hall said, “I started with three straight pars and actually pulled to within on stroke of the lead at that point. But I then made a couple of mistakes that cost me dearly (two double bogeys) and I could never put any pressure on him again.”
In the new legends division (70 years-plus), retired general Bob Hullender of San Antonio won with 79-79-83--241. The 75-year-old Hullender had previously taken titles in the super senior category in 2007, 2009 and 2010.