Legendary Gary Vanier wins NCGA Super Senior
Champion Gary Vanier <br>(NCGA Photo)
Champion Gary Vanier
(NCGA Photo)

SAN LUIS OBSIPO, CA (October 17, 2017) - Chalk up another achievement for Northern California amateur legend Gary Vanier.

Vanier, a member at Olympic Club, shot a final round 1-over 73 and defeated Jim Knoll on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff Tuesday to capture the annual NCGA Super Senior Championship at par-72 San Luis Obispo Country Club.

With the win, the 67-year-old Vanier, who finished with a two-day total of 1-under 143, becomes the first two-time winner of the championship, which is in its eighth year. The victory was also Vanier’s ninth as an NCGA senior, tying him with Jim McMurtrey for the No.1 spot on the career NCGA senior win list.

“I got lucky again,” Vanier said. “The golf gods were on my side.”

Having entered the final round holding a one-stroke lead over Knoll, things didn’t look so good for Vanier early on. He’d card three bogeys over his first seven holes to fall back to a total of 1-over. Meanwhile, Knoll, a record five-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year, and playing in the same group, birdied the par-4 2nd and par-4 6th holes to get to 2-under.

After the two made the turn, things went the other way. Knoll, playing out of Rooster Run GC, birdied the par-5 11th to get to 3-under but bogeyed the 13th and 15th holes to finish with a 72. Vanier, on the other hand, came bouncing back with birdies on hole Nos. 11, 13 and 16. The birdie on the 16th gave him the outright lead, but he’d fall back into a tie with Knoll following a bogey on the closing 18th when he missed a 3-footer for par.

In the playoff, which was played on the 18th, Vanier knocked his approach shot to 10 feet of the flagstick. Vanier would miss his birdie attempt, but Knoll missed his par putt—a 3-footer that was almost the same putt Vanier had missed to force extra holes.

For Vanier, the win means a lot more than just the trophy. A 400-point NCGA event, Vanier took a huge step towards defending his NCGA Super Senior Player of the Year crown. The now part-time Idaho resident had come into the championship trailing Mark Miller by 368 points in the standings. Still left on the Senior calendar is the annual California Senior Amateur, slated for Nov. 6-8 at Pauma Valley CC in Southern California.

“To me, I don’t play many tournaments anymore so it’d be nice to defend that title,” Vanier said. “I’m fortunate to just be in the running.”

Third place went to DeLaveaga GC member Rich Gleghorn at 146 following a 72.

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The Super Senior Championship was created in 2010 to give golfers 65 and older their own championship. Format is 36 holes of stroke play. Players must have reached their 65th birthday by the start of the tournament and have a numeric handicap index on their club’s Master Report of 9.4 or less on the date of registration.

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