Sam Till's victory at Old Corkscrew was hard-earned
(Journal Gazette photo)
ESTERO, FL (January 6, 2018) - 54 chilly, breezy holes were not enough to decide the first tournament of the 2018 senior golf season, as Sam Till, Jr.
(Fort Wayne, IN) defeated James Starnes
(Fort Myers, FL) in a playoff to win the Old Corkscrew Senior at Old Corkscrew Golf Club.
The weather was the story of the tournament, with cool temperatures and a north wind creating difficult scoring conditions that sent scores upward. Par was never threatened--the final-round 73 by Thomas Baird (Signal Mountain, TN) was the low round of the tournament--and only three players in the Senior, Super Senior and Legends divisions managed to break 80 in all three rounds.
Starnes had a three-shot lead over Pat Thompson of Asheville, NC (and four over Till) when the day started, but limped home with an 81 to allow Till, who closed with a 77, to match him at 15-over 231.
Starnes was seeking his first major win since 2016, after recording 14 top 10s but no wins last year. For Till, the win was his first since the 2016 Gateway Senior, and continued a string of good performances at Old Corkscrew, finishing in the top-5 for the fifth year in a row to go along with his win in 2011 and playoff loss in 2012.
The playoff might have been more crowded, but Thompson (79) and Baird (73) ultimately fell one shot short, settling for a third place tie.
Mike Jackson (Canada/Fort Myers, FL) closed with a 74 to finish solo fifth at 234.
The senior Florida Swing continues with the Gateway Invitational, Jan 8-10 at Gateway G&CC in Fort Myers.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Paul Schlachter played steady golf throughout, shooting rounds of 78-76-78 to finish four shots ahead of Pete Allen. Schlachter and Richard Pfeil entered the final round tied for the lead, but Pfeil faded to an 87 and ultimately finished seventh.
Berger Warner finished third at 236, with three players--Bob Casamento, John Armstrong, and John Osborne, Jr.--tied for fourth at 239.
The Legends division turned in to a duel between Jeff Belfore and Jim Kamis, who entered the final round tied for the lead and were able to pull away from the field.
In the end, Belfore's 75 bested Kamis' 76 and gave him the one-shot win at 17-over 233. George Washburn III was third at 237, followed by Jack Mahan at 240, and the pair of Edward Craig and John Blank at 241.
Don Jeanes showed his resilience by shooting the tournament-low-round 73 after rounds of 89-82 to finish seventh.
ROUND TWO RECAP
With temperatures rising from the upper 30's on day one to the low 60's on day two it was James Starnes who was able to take advantage and move into the lead at the Old Corkscrew Senior.
For the second straight day Starnes carded a 3-over 75 and at 6-over for the tournament he is three clear of Pat Thompson who is in second place with one day remaining at the Old Corkscrew Golf Club.
Starnes, who started the day in three-way tie for the lead, completed 2017 as the ninth ranked player in the AGC Senior Rankings earning points in 17 AGC ranking tournaments, 14 of which were top-10 or better showings. Each of the last three years Starnes has finished inside the top-10 at the Old Corkscrew Senior.
Sam Till Jr., a co-leader at the start of the day, is in third place at 10-over, in fourth place it is Mark Knecht at 11-over while in fifth it is Paul Wharton with a 12-over tally.
Mike Arnold, the final member of the first round leaders, is 13-over and in sixth place.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
In the Super Senior Division the lead belongs to a pair of players with 10-over tallies. When play resumes on Saturday it will be the leading duo of Paul Schlachter and first round leader Richard Pfeil ahead by two.
In third place it is John Armstrong at 12-over while in fourth it is the trio of Berger Warner, Bob Casamento and Pete Allen at 14-over.
There is also a tie atop the Legends Division leaderboard with Jeff Belfore and Jim Kamis sharing top billing at 14-over.
Two back in third is Jack Mahan at 16-over and in fourth it is first round leader George Washburn lll George Washburn lll; John Blank.
ROUND ONE RECAP
With temperatures in the upper 30's scoring was difficult on day on of the Old Corkscrew Senior. Currently three-players are 3-over following 75's and sharing the lead with still two rounds remaining at the Old Corkscrew Golf Club.
With temperatures set to rise into the low to mid-60's for the next two days scoring conditions should improve.
Currently the lead group is comprised of Michael Arnold, Sam Till Jr. and James Starnes.
Arnold is coming off a strong 2017 that saw him finish 40th in the AGC Senior Rankings. His season included a third place showing at the Society of Seniors Fall Classic and also a shared sixth showing at last years Old Corkscrew Senior. In all Arnold earned points in eight AGC ranking events.
Till Jr. is in search of his second victory at Old Corkscrew Golf Club after winning the title in 2011. He nearly won the event again in 2012 before losing in a playoff, since then he has finished inside the top-five three-times (2015-2017) and the top-10 once more (2014).
Starnes completed 2017 as the ninth ranked player in the AGC Senior Rankings earning points in 17 AGC ranking tournaments, 13 of which were top-10 or better showings. Each of the last three years Starnes has finished inside the top-10 at the Old Corkscrew Senior.
Behind the lead group at 5-over in a tie for fourth are Steve Groom, Pat Thompson and Ben Brundred.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Richard Pfeil is alone atop the Super Senior leaderboard following his 3-over 75 and is two shots clear of John Armstrong and John Osborne Jr., both of whom carded 5-over 77's and are sharing second place.
Paul Schlachter and Berger Warner are 6-over and they round out the top-five.
George Washburn lll signed for an opening day 5-over 77 to pace the Legends Division.
He will be chased by Charlie Busbee, Dick Larson and Jim Kamis who are 8-over in a tie for second while in a share of fifth place at 9-over it is Edward Craig, Jeff Belfore, John Blank and Charles Horner.