After finishing 3rd last year, Owen Joyner closed the deal at Gateway G&CC
(Houston Chronicle photo)
FORT MYERS, FL (January 10, 2018) - Owen Joyner
(Bonita Springs, FL) and Mike Occi
(Columbia, MD) turned the Gateway Senior Invitational into a two-man race, but it was Joyner who came out on top by two shots at Gateway Golf & Country Club.
Both men had three straight under-par rounds, but Joyner (70-71-70) was able to win wire-to-wire despite Occi's (71-71-71) game performance as he tried to defend the title he won by three shots last year.
For Joyner, it was a breakthrough win, as he had come close in major senior events several times before (including starting last season 2nd at Old Corkscrew and third in the Gateway) without winning.
For Occi, the Gateway was the first of two straight tournaments in which he enters as the defending champion. He also won the 2017 Kingsway Senior Invitational, and will attempt to defend there when the tournament starts in two days.
Pat Thompson (Asheville, NC), whose second round of 68 was the low round of the tournament, finished six shots back after a closing 74.
Mike Arnold (Fort Myers, FL) and Steve Humphrey (Lexington, KY) were tied for fifth at 2-over 218.
In the Super Senior Division, Rick Bauch (Naples, FL) cruised to an eight-shot victory, shooting a final-round 72 for a 4-under 212 total. Tom Elfers (Estero, FL) was the runner-up at 4-over 220, with Sam Till, Jr. (Estero, FL) third at 5 over.
Till, who won the Old Corkscrew Senior in the regular Senior Division last week, closed with a 72.
Dick Pfeil (Naples, FL) and Paul Schlachter (Bridgeville, PA) rounded out the top five.
In the Legends Division, John Blank (Frostburg, MD) struggled to a 77 but held on for a two-shot win over John Cuomo (N. Venice, FL) at 3-over 219.
O. Gordon Brewer, the two-time U.S. Senior champion and longtime president of Pine Valley Golf Club, had the day's low round, a 1-under 71, which meant that the 80-year-old beat his age by 9 shots. Brewer finished third at 6-over 222.
ROUND TWO RECAP
Owen Joyner (Bonita Springs, FL) shot his second straight under-par round, a 1-under 71, to maintain a one shot lead going into the final round of the Gateway Senior Invitational at Gateway Golf & Country Club. Joyner (70-71) sits at three under through 36 holes.
Mike Occi (Columbia, MD), who won this event by three shots last year, is in good position to defend. He too has posted two red numbers, matching Joyner's 71 on Tuesday to stay one-shot back at 2-under 142.
Pat Thompson (Asheville, NC) made the day's biggest move, posting a 4-under 68 to get to one under, just two shots back of Joyner. Thompson comes into the tournament in good form, having finished third at the Old Corkscrew Senior concluded just two days before the start of the Gateway Senior.
Steve Groom (Raytown, MD) and Steve Humphrey (Lexington, KY) are both at even par for two rounds and tied for fourth.
At one over and four shots behind Joyner, Mike Arnold (Fort Myers, FL) is probably the only other player with an outside chance at winning, as the the next player on the leaderboard is five further shots back.
In the Super Senior Division, Rick Bauch (Naples, FL) shot a 4-under 68 to build a six-shot lead over Tom Elfers (Estero, FL). Bauch is at 4 under for the tournament. Three players--John Armstrong (Frostburg, MD), David Crocker (Bluffton, SC), and Paul Schlachter (Bridgeville, PA)--are tied for third at 3 over, seven shots back.
In the Legends Division, John Black (Frostburg, MD) also shot a 68 to take the lead, by three shots over John Cuomo (N. Venice, FL). Black sits at 2-under 142 after two rounds. Joe Harper (Fort Myers, FL) is alone in third, seven shots behind Blank.
FIRST ROUND RECAP
Owen Joyner (Bonita Springs, FL) shot a 2-under 70 to take a one-shot lead at the Gateway Senior Invitational at Gateway Golf & Country Club.
The Gateway Senior is the second tournament in the Senior Florida Swing. Sam Till Jr. (Fort Wayne, IN) won the Old Corkscrew Senior Invitational two days ago in Estero, battling cold, breezy weather that produced a winning score of 15 over par. Warmer weather came in for the Gateway and it is reflected in the scoring, with red numbers making a welcome return.
The defending champion Mike Occi (Columbia, MD) sits just one shot back after a 71, and is tied with Steve Groom (Raytown, MD). Steve Humphrey (Lexington, KY) is another shot back at even-par 72.
Till has decided to play in the Super Senior division this week, and posted a 74 to sit in sixth place, four shots behind the leader John Armstrong (Frostburg, MD). Armstrong's round of 2-under 70 is one shot ahead of Tom Elfers (Estero, FL) and two ahead of Rick Bauch (Naples, FL).
Paul Schlachter (Bridgeville, PA), who won last week's Old Corkscrew Super Senior, is tied for fourth with Bill Everett (Fort Myers, FL) at 73.
In the Legends Division, Charles Horner (Alexandria, VA) was the only player in the red after a 1-under 71. He leads a group of five players by two shots, including last week's winner Jeff Belfore (Naples, FL).
John Cuomo (N. Venice, FL), Bill Downing (Akron, OH), Joe Harper (Fort Myers, FL) and Dick Landon (Olathe, KS) all had rounds of 73 to join Belfore in the second-place tie.