Winning is never easy, but Lewis Stephenson got it done
JUPITER, FL (February 21, 2018) - Lewis Stephenson (Mansfield, TX) won the Society of Seniors (SOS) Spring Classic on Wednesday, prevailing in a two-hole playoff over Neil Vanleeuwen (Tarpon Springs, FL) at Abacoa Golf Club.
Stephenson took control of the event in the first round, coming home in 32 for a 3-under 69 that gave him a two shot lead over Jim Starnes (Fort Myers, FL). He was still three under for the tournament on his back nine on day two but lost four shots in three holes to keep the field close, led by Starnes two shots back.
Vanleeuwen started the day three behind, but when Stephenson bogeyed three of his first four holes it was suddenly tied. The two were still tied heading to the back nine, and that's when shots started dropping on practically every scorecard.
It started when Vanleeuwen, who had been flawless up to that point, went bogey-double-bogey on 11 through 13, dropping him three behind Stephenson again.
At the 13th, it was Stephenson's turn to retreat, going bogey-bogey-double and allowing Vanleeuwen back into a share of the lead.
But as soon as he had drawn even, he gave it back with a bogey on 16, only to see Stephenson give it right back with a bogey at the par-5 17th. Two pars down the 18th and they were off to the playoff, after matching inward nines of 41. Stephenson had a 79 on the day, while Vanleeuwen had 76, for matching 8-over 224 totals.
As the two leaders were ping-ponging back and forth, Starnes had quietly pulled within one shot, only to take his turn shedding shots, starting with a double at the 13th. Two more bogeys at 14 and the par-5 17th would ultimately leave him one shot out of the playoff, with a 40 over the final nine.
Michael Occi (Bonita Springs, FL) tried to make a late push, birdieing the final hole, but his bogey on the 17th would ultimately leave him one shot back, tied with Starnes.
With the leaders backing up, the leaderboard compressed. Five players finished tied for fifth at 10-over 226, two shots out of the playoff. Gray Tuttle had the best round of the five, closing in 1-over 73, but in the end his double bogey on the final hole kept him out of the playoff.
Ken Kinkopf (Dublin, OH), Lawrence Field (Tulsa, OK), Robbie Dew (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) and Jerry Rose (Sarasota, FL) were the other players tied for fifth.
For Stephenson, it was his second national senior championship, having won the 2015 Carlton Woods Invitational in wire-to-wire fashion.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Roc Irey won the Super Senior Division, closing with a 75 to win by two shots over William Everett, Don Russell and Evan Long.
Long's eagle on the par-five 2nd hole gave him the lead, but he gave it back as he closed out his back nine, losing four shots on 7-9. When Irey birdied the par-5 10th, he regained control and was never seriously threatened thereafter.
GRAND MASTER DIVISION
In the Grand Master Division, Pat Vincelli cruised home for a seven-shot win over Wayne Gardner, closing with a 74 for an even-par 216 total.
Vincelli shot the round of the tournament, a second-round 68, sparked by four birdies in a row to start the round. This gave him a seven-shot cushion going into the final round, a margin he maintained comfortably until the end.
Four players--Jack Vardaman, Rick Kline, Bill Doerce, and Gary Johnson--finished tied for third at 9-over 225.
ABOUT THE SOS Spring Classic
Society of Seniors Members Only. 54 hole
tournament with Senior (ages 55 and over),
Senior (65+), Legends (70+), Grand
Master (75+) and Super Grand Master (80+)
View Complete Tournament Information