HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — Paul Simson of Raleigh defeated Jim Grainger of Charlotte on the second playoff hole, the par-3 9th at Champion Hills Club. For Simson the win marked his record-setting seventh N.C. Senior Amateur title and 29th overall CGA championship. For Grainger his fourth year playing in the event ended in his fourth runner-up finish, third loss in a playoff, twice falling to Simson.
At the 2012 N.C. Senior Amateur, Simson’s birdie on the second playoff hole at Oak Valley Golf Club in Advance defeated Grainger to seal Simson’s 25th CGA championship title which surpassed Dale Morey’s long-standing record of 24.
Simson, who celebrated his 64th birthday on Sunday, wasn't sure if he would be able to finish today's round. Over the last several months he has battled health issues.
"[Entering this championship] I just wanted to see how I recovered from all the health problems that I've had," Simson reflected. "But, I think this an indication that I will be playing quite a bit."
When Simson teed off this morning five groups before the leaders, he trailed Grainger by eight shots. Simson's round started off sluggish with a bogey on the par-3 4th, but quickly recovered with a birdie on the par-5 5th. Pars on holes 6 thru 9 had him at even par for his round. With nine holes to play, he was still seven shots back of Grainger. But on the back nine his putter caught fire; making a 40-foot putt for birdie on 10, two-putting for birdie on 13, a 7-foot birdie putt on 15 and a 12-foot birdie putt on 18. His four-under-par 67 was not only the best round of the tournament, it was enough to force a playoff with Grainger. "I had no idea that 67 would prevail in a playoff," Simson said.
Both Simson and Grainger finished with three-day totals of one-over-par 214, but took different routes. Simson shot 70-77-67 while Grainger posted 70-69-75. Grainger, the reigning Carolinas Senior Amateur champion, faltered down the stretch of his four-over-par final round, playing his last ten holes at five-over-par. The two times he played the par-3 9th - in regulation and in the playoff - Grainger made double-bogey, meaning Simson's tap-in bogey at the second playoff hole was enough for the win."I didn't deserve to win today the way I played," said Grainger about playing down the stretch with the lead. "I just started thinking about it." His missed six-foot par putt on 18 resulted in the playoff.
Playing in the final group with Grainger, first round leader Pat Thompson made birdie on the par-3 17th to close the gap with Grainger to one shot. But Thompson, 56, of nearby Asheville missed a par putt on 18 for his ticket to join the playoff. He finished alone in third at two-over-par 215.
Defending champion Jim Pearson of Charlotte is recovering from surgery.
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