Gary Vanier wins NCGA Senior Championship
From left: Vanier, Boyns, Dan Bieber
From left: Vanier, Boyns, Dan Bieber

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (April 3, 2013) -- Gary Vanier may have a new nickname after his latest victory at the 52nd Annual NCGA Senior Championship. When presented the first place medal by NCGA Vice President Brian Morse, he dubbed the new champion “Mr. Lucky.”

Despite having a two-stroke lead going into the day, everyone who stuck around was surprised to see the 2009 champion add a second title to his name, even Vanier himself.

“This one here I really take as a gift,” said Vanier comparing his second title to his first. “Casey [Boyns] really had it won coming down 14, but I guess that’s why you play all 18 holes.”

Ah, the 14th hole at Spyglass Hill, a 525-yard downhill, winding hole with a green guarded by a lake. That was the undoing of Boyns’ brilliant round. Up to that point Boyns had made five birdies on the day, and found himself at four-under par, five strokes ahead of Vanier, who was three-over for the day through 13 holes.

But that’s when disaster struck for Boyns, who made a quintuple bogey 10. After hitting his drive off to the right behind some trees (1), Boyns attempted a large cut shot with a 3-iron around a tree, which ended up being pulled into trees left of the fairway less than 150 yards from the green (2). Finding his ball, Boyns then stepped on a branch a yard away causing his ball to move, costing him a penalty stroke (3). After replacing his ball, Boyns hit two shots that went about a total of five feet, before finally being able to chip out (4-6). Boyns then flew his approach shot over the green into the back bunker (7), hit his bunker shot onto the green (8) and two putted (9-10).

With Vanier making a birdie on the 14th, the Olympic Club member suddenly had a one-stroke lead after going into the hole five strokes behind. Still, despite a horrendous number by Boyns on the 14th, the Pacific Grove resident was able to string four pars together, while Vanier had three pars and a bogey, forcing a tie after 36 holes at one-over par 145.

In the sudden playoff, Vanier was again fortuitous sealing up the sudden-death playoff on the first hole. The players teed off the 10th hole, with Vanier hitting his drive in the right rough about 135 yards away, while Boyns left himself in the first cut of rough on the right side with 110 yards in. After Vanier’s shot rolled off the green, Boyns left a wedge 20 feet below the hole. For his third shot Vanier chipped to within two feet, assuring a par. With a chance to win, Boyns got aggressive with his uphill birdie putt, slamming it four feet past the hole. What happened next summed up Boyns’ day as he lipped-out his putt for par, making a bogey.

“I tell you, [the 10] isn’t as disappointing as the three-putt right there,” said Boyns minutes after the playoff. “I hit the ball too well to lose this thing.”

Maybe a more appropriate nickname after the 2013 NCGA Senior Championship would be for Boyns being “Mr. Unlucky.” After all, Vanier is one of the all-time NCGA greats, having not only two NCGA senior titles to his name, but also an NCGA Amateur Match Play title, an NCGA Master Division title, a CGA Amateur and CGA Senior Amateur title.

Vanier admits he’s playing well of late, having won another San Francisco City Senior title last month and he hopes to see continued success.

“I’ve been playing really well the last month,” said Vanier. “Casey always plays these courses well, so I feel very fortunate [to win].”

Finishing third and earning a medal was Dan Bieber of Alamo with a 36-hole score of 147. Bieber, who also played in the final group, followed his first round 71 with a 76.


First played in 1962, the NCGA Senior Championship is the association’s premier event for players aged 55 and over. The championship will be 54-holes of stroke play (18 holes per day). After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 30 individuals and ties. Pre- qualifying required for non-exempt players. Players must have a handicap index of 7.4 or less.

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