SUFFOLK, Virg. (Aug. 28, 2012) -- Tom Grady, 63, of Marshall and event rookie Dave Pulk, 56, of Williamsburg each shot 4-under-par 68 to pace stroke play qualifying at the conclusion of the first day of the 65th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship being conducted at Cedar Point Country Club (6,477 yards, par 36-36—72). The championship is open to golfers ages 55 and older.
In leading the way, Grady and Pulk posted two of nine subpar rounds in the day one of qualifying. Six competitors did not complete their first round due to inclement weather late in the day on Tuesday.
Defending champion and central Virginian David Partridge, 57, of Manakin returned 3-under 69 to complete the three rounds in the 60s. Alvin Wall, 62, of Virginia Beach had 70. Five other competitors carded 1-under 71, including Skip Zobel, 57, of Virginia Beach, ranked second among senior points’ leaders in the VSGA player rankings entering the championship.
Grady, 63, got off to a strong start, birdieing five of the first six holes, including four straight in a 3-3-4-3 stretch to start his round, sinking putts inside 8 feet. Despite three mid-round bogeys that dropped him back to two under, he added back-to-back birdies at Nos. 16 and 17. Wielding a hot putter, Grady knocked in a 30-footer at the par-3 16th, two putted for birdie at the par-5 17th hole and drained another putt from about 30 feet at the last.
He recently eschewed the long putter in favor of a standard-length flat stick and watched putts tumble in from nearly every angle on day one. Grady estimated he made a combined 150 feet worth of putts during the uncanny performance on the putting surfaces, including snaking some in for par to keep his round going.
“That’s the best putting round I’ve ever had,” said Grady, a member at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. “When I needed to make putts, I made putts. That’s the kind of day it was. My putter kept me going.”
Pulk, who moved with his wife from northeast Ohio to Williamsburg in December 2011, hardly seemed fazed by his first start at the VSGA Senior Amateur. Enjoying a sound ball-striking day, he made five birdies, with four coming inside 6 feet; his longest birdie conversion was a 25-footer at the par-4 eighth.
“I’ve been playing well,” said Pulk, a member at Two Rivers Country Club. “I hit a lot of fairways and greens and knocked it inside 4 or 5 feet four times.”
Tournament golf in nothing new to Pulk, who has plenty of championship pedigree, having competed in regional golf association tournaments and USGA events for the past 35-plus years. Most recently, he posted a four-stroke victory at the Ohio Golf Association Senior Amateur two weeks ago and tied for third at the North and South Senior Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort, which concluded on Sunday.
Partridge logged five birdies against two bogeys. He turned in one under, then made birdie from close range at the par-4 10th, sank a 45-footer one hole later before making his third birdie on the inward half at the par-3 16th from 10 inches. Only a closing bogey prevented Partridge from equaling the low round.
Following the completion of the second round of stroke play qualifying, 32 players will advance to match play.
The first and second rounds of match play are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday, Aug. 31 and the scheduled 18-hole championship final on Saturday, Sept. 1.
View results for Virginia Senior Amateur Golf Championship