WATERVILLE, Ireland (May 27, 2013) -- On the third and final day of the inaugural SOS International Senior Amateur, a soft but steady Irish Mist rained on the famed Waterville Links, much to the delight of the intrepid competitors who had battled brisk, chilly wind blasts from the North during the first two days of the championship. And, too, the crisp sun that had bathed the SOS players since their arrival on Ireland's southwest coast earlier in the week was not to be seen on this mild Saturday alongside the Atlantic.
Still, neither the mist nor the overcast skies could stop Dr. Ed Vomastek's romp to a decisive victory in only his second tournament as a member of the SOS. The 55-year old Vomastek, an anaesthesiologist in Traverse City, Michigan, led Bob Howe of Mamaroneck, New York, by a single Stableford point -- 87 to 86 -- after the first two rounds, with Michigan's Dave Kempner four points behind Vomastek in third place.
Arriving at the Waterville Links on Saturday morning, Vomastek and the rest of the players in the field found playing conditions that were the total opposite to those they had experienced during the first two rounds. In Rounds 1 and 2 the 375-yard first hole demanded a low drive into the wind followed by a low hybrid approach aimed at a green well protected by bunkers and a burn on the right side. In Round 3 the wind changed dramatically and was now at the player's back.
"Today I hit a driver and a little wedge to No. 1, after being unable to reach that green with a rescue club the day before," said Vomastek. Vomastek three-putted that first green for a bogey, but after that slight blip he turned it on. "I hit 16 greens for the round," he said, "In all, I played very solidly." So solid that he finished with a two-over par 74 for the round, good for 34 Stableford points, a total of 92 points for the tournament -- and an eight-point victory over runners-up Howe and Kempner.
The final day's best round, however, was turned in by Dr. Neil Spitalny of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who posted 36 Stableford points and vaulted into fourth place with 83 points, one more than fifth-place finisher John Baldwin of Palm Beach, Florida, and London, England.
For Vomastek, it was a Like Father-Like Son type of performance. Dr. Ed is the son of long-time SOS member Dr. Roy Vomastek, still competitive today at the age of 81; Dr. Roy is, in fact, the oldest player ever to qualify for Match Play in the USGA Senior Amateur championship, something he accomplished at the age of 74. Father and Son play regularly in Father-Son compeititions, and most recently competed together in the Renaissance Cup at Tom Doak's stunning new Streamsong layout near Bartow, Florida.
"What a week," said Dr. Vomastek after he collected a Waterville Flag signed by all the other players in the Waterville field. "My caddie J.B. O'Toole deserves a lot of credit, too. He's a scratch player himself, and he kept telling me exactly how I had to play shots into the great green complexes here at Waterville. And I was lucky enough to execute enough of them."
As the SOS players departed Waterville Saturday evening, the consensus expression among them was this: I shall return. Waterville was an exciting experience for everyone. Great golf course. Varying weather conditions, though without the type of day-long sideways, slashing showers that can send you to the pub in midday. Superb hotel accommodations. Sensational food not only at The Butler Arms but also at the great Smugglers Inn and Dooley's Steak House.
Also, Carr Golf was all-over the tournament from an operational standpoint. Carr Golf Chairman Marty Carr regaled the players with his steady stream of jokes. Event Coordinator Sinead Maher, on the eve of being a bridesmaid in her sister's Dublin wedding, worked morning, noon and night -- her IPhone seemed attached to her left ear as she made hotel, plane, dining, golf and massage arrangements for the players and their guests. What a delightul young lady. Bill Whelan, her intrepid left-hand man, handled logistics, scorekeeping and some picture-taking. And driver Senan Murray deftly negotiated the extremely narrow Irish roadways as he moved the players between Shannon Airport and Waterville, to-and-from the Links -- and played bus driver/tour guide for the travelling wives.
The bottom line for Waterville: A wonderful, great, memorable time was had by all.
View results for Society of Seniors International Senior Amateur