Gene Elliott endured a roller coaster final round at the Seaside Course
SEA ISLAND, GA (March 7, 2018) - On a day of difficult scoring, Gene Elliott
(W. Des Moines, IA) was able to hold off Mark Nickerson
(Roswell, GA) by a single shot and win the Jones Cup Senior Invitational at Sea Island Golf Club.
Winds were stiff throughout the final round, with gusts over 25 miles per hour, which sent scores skyward. In the first two rounds, red numbers were prevalent, with 6 under-par rounds on Monday and 7 on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, no one could do better than 2-over 72 as the stroke average went up 6 shots from the first two days of the tournament.
Last year, Elliott finished third in what was one of his first events as a senior, finishing four shots behind Walter Todd (Laurens, SC) who won in a playoff over Doug Hanzel (Savannah, GA).
This year, he opened with a 2-under 68 to sit one shot behind co-leaders Emile Vaughan (Montgomery, AL) and Grady Brame (Hammond, LA), and then took the lead with a 66.
Related: Gene Elliott goes low, leads Jones Cup Senior Invitational
Todd was two shots back but took the lead after the fourth hole, despite going +1 on his first four holes. Elliott stumbled out of the gate, making bogeys at 2 and 3 and then doubling the par-4 fourth hole.
But he was able to right himself with birdies at 7 and 8, giving him the lead by one over Todd, and two over Nickerson, who also started slowly but got back into contention with three birdies in five holes to close out his front nine.
The key holes on the back nine turned out to be 12 and 13, where Elliott suffered back-to-back double bogeys but still only lost one shot to Nickerson, who had a golden opportunity to take advantage but instead made a bogey and double of his own.
At that point, no one in the tournament was under par, with Elliott and Todd at even par, and Nickerson at 1 over.
From there Todd would fade, making five bogeys and shooting 40 on the back nine, ultimately leaving the tournament a two-man race between Elliott and Nickerson.
Just as Elliott had earlier in the round, he bounced back from his rough patch with consecutive birdies at 16 and 17 to get back into the red and maintain his slim lead over Nickerson, who birdied the same holes. Each player parred the final hole, giving Elliott the win at 2 under 208 after a final-round score of 74.
Nickerson had the day's low round of 72 to finish as the runner-up at 1 under 209. Todd (76) finished third at 2-over 212.
David Nelson (Reno, NV), who was the only other player to start the day under par (-1), shot a 74 to finish solo fourth at 3-over 213. Mark Knecht (Paducah, KY) had the day's tied-low round, a 72, that pulled him into a 5th place finish at 5-over 215.
Hanzel, last year's AGC Senior Player-of-the-Year and the #1 ranked senior again this year coming into the week, closed with a 78 to finish T10 at 8 over.
In the Super Senior Division, Pete Allen closed with a 76 to win by three shots over Dick Van Leuvan (77), and by four over Bob Casamento (77). Don Russell (76) finished fourth, five shots back.
Allen's winning total was 11-over 221, and he took control of the tournament with a second-round 71 which was the low round of the tournament in the division.
Scoring was equally challenging in the Super Senior Division, with the low score a 74 by John Osborne, who finished 13th. The stroke average of the super seniors was 6 shots higher in the final round than it was over rounds one and two.
ABOUT THE Jones Cup Senior
54-hole senior invitational event inaugurated
in 2012, that follows in the footsteps of the
Jones Cup, an event that unofficially kicks off
the amateur circuit each year.
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