OPELIKA, Ala. (May 18, 2012) -- The top of the leaderboard has a familiar look to it in the 15th State Senior Amateur Championship at NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa with defending champion Steve Hudson of Birmingham three clear of four players after opening with a 67.
Hudson, who also won the 2010 State Mid-Amateur and has been the AGA Player of the Year multiple times, had an eagle on No. 1 (his tenth hole of the day) and four birdies, with the only blemish on his card a double bogey 5 on No. 17.
He leads last year’s runner-up and former State Junior and State Mid-Amateur champion Robert Nelson of Mobile; former State Senior champion Emile Vaughan of Pike Road; reinstated amateur and former NFL kicker Al Delgreco of Birmingham; and multiple State Four Ball and multiple State Senior Four Ball champion Tom Jungkind of Bessemer with all four shooting one-under-par 70′s.
“You don’t get many chances to defend a state title,” Hudson said. “I think when I defended my State Mid-Amateur title last year I didn’t have the best perspective on things.”
And he relied on the top coach in college football, Coach Nick Saban, for some advice. Saban and Hudson are good friends.
“I talked to Coach yesterday and he gave me a little bit of a pep talk. He put me in a good frame of mind and encouraged me. He told me not to do anything different as defending champion. That it was still just golf and to focus on one shot at a time.”
Hudson credited his driver and putter as key clubs.
“I drove the ball real nice and my putter kind of saved me as I didn’t hit many iron shots crazy close. NorthRiver is a course where you have to drive the ball well and I did that.”
His eagle was a strong bounce back after a double bogey just two holes before. It came courtesy of a hybrid approach to six feet from 217 yards on this par 5. He then converted the putt and had birdie two’s on the par threes 3 and 6.
Not only is Jungkind in the hunt for the overall title, he leads the 57-64 age division by two from Rick Clay of Birmingham.
Bob Moody of Birmingham leads the 65+ age division by two from Bobby Locklear of Albertville after a 73.