Winner David Pulk
SALEM, VA (June 13, 2017) - A balky back put Dave Pulk, the 2015 VSGA Senior Men’s Golfer of the Year, out of commission for the front half of the 2016 season. But after rehab and physical therapy, Pulk showed signs of returning to form at the end, evidenced by a semifinal appearance in the Virginia Senior Amateur and a runner-up showing at the Senior Open of Virginia.
On a sticky Tuesday at Hidden Valley Country Club, Pulk (Two Rivers CC) showed he was all the way back. He posted a 2-under-par 69 then bested Tim Moore (The Virginian GC) in a sudden-death playoff to win the 32nd VSGA Senior Stroke Play Championship.
Pulk sank a tricky 6-foot comebacker for par on No. 18, the lone playoff hole, and walked away victorious when Moore missed a 4-foot par putt that would have extended the playoff.
“I wasn’t really able to play healthy until August of last year,” Pulk said. “I finished the year strong, but this year, knock on wood, the back hasn’t been a problem. I’ve been healthy. I’m feeling pretty good.”
Pulk earned his second VSGA championship, having won the 2015 Senior Open of Virginia at Country Club of Virginia’s Westhampton Course. Tuesday marked the second straight year the Senior Stroke Play Championship had ended in a playoff, and the second straight year that 141 was the low score after 36 holes.
Pulk entered the day three shots behind 18-hole leader Danny Hopkins (Blacksburg CC) but caught Hopkins by the turn. Hopkins never quite got going, posting a second-round 76 that left him four shots out of the playoff. Two-time Senior Stroke Play champion Keith Decker (Chatmoss CC) was one off the lead entering Tuesday but returned a 1-over 72 that left him a shot out of the playoff.
“It was there for the taking,” Decker said, “and I didn’t take it.”
Moore, who was playing in his first VSGA championship, had a similar lament. He stumbled a bit around the turn with three straight bogeys, but he recovered in a big way by sinking an eagle putt on No. 12 to steady his round. He added a birdie on No. 15 and just missed a birdie putt on 16 and came to 17 — a severe downhill par-4 – in great position to claim the championship.
He smoked his drive to within 62 yards of the hole but ran into trouble after that. A three-putt led to a bogey, and he made bogey on No. 18 as well to return to the clubhouse in a tie with Pulk.
“I’m 62 yards to the flag, and the other two guys’ balls went bouncing over the green,” Moore said. “So I was trying not to hit it over. I was just going to carry the bunker. I thought I had hit a good shot, but it just came up short. Then I three-putted from probably 60 feet.
“I made a lot of mental mistakes that I normally don’t make. I just didn’t execute coming in. It’s going to be hard to take this for a while.”
In the playoff, Pulk hit a 2-iron off the tee to the middle of the fairway. Moore’s drive went hard right and settled in the rough to the right of the cart path. He shanked his approach, leaving him a tricky pitch from just inside the cart path to even give himself a chance at par.
“I don’t think I’ve shanked a ball in 15 years,” Moore said.
Knowing that Pulk was on the green safely with a good chance at a two-putt par, Moore hit a terrific shot to get within four feet. After Pulk made his par putt, Moore shoved his to the right, leaving Pulk as the champion.
Buck Brittain (The Virginian GC) and David Jordan (Willow Oaks CC) finished two strokes back at 143. Philip Mahone (Farmington CC), David Partridge (Hermitage CC) and Mike Nicewarner (Shenandoah Valley GC) tied for sixth at 144. Partridge shot the round of the day Tuesday, a 4-under 67 that helped him surge into the top 10.
Pulk’s win sets him up for a big summer, especially with the Senior Open of Virginia moving to his home club at Two Rivers in September.
“I’m 60 years old, so I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to compete,” Pulk said. “But I still have a pretty good game. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully contending in a few others.”
View results for VSGA Senior Stroke Play
ABOUT THE VSGA Senior Stroke Play
36-hole stroke play competition (18 holes per day).
Age groups will be 50-54, 55-59 and 60-and-over. All
players will compete from the same set of tees. Open
to VSGA members at least 50 years of age holding an
active GHIN number issued by a licensed VSGA
Member Club in good standing.
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