Rand Mendez (USGA photo)
LIBERTYVILLE, IL (July 26, 2018) – Rand Mendez
(Wilmington, DE) completed a wire-to-wire victory at the Society of Seniors (SOS) Jack Hesler tournament at The Merit Club. But it wasn't easy.
Mendez entered the final round with a four shot lead on the strength of an opening-round 4-under 68 followed by a steady 73. He could only manage a 78 in the final round, but it was just enough to get the job done with one shot to spare.
The win was the first major win for the 58-year-old Mendez, who qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur last year and whose previous best finish in a national senior event was a T12 at last year's Ralph Bogart Senior.
Scores were higher across the board on Thursday, with only a single player -- James Prim of Pensacola, FL -- able to match par. Carl Horsch (Eden Prairie, MN) and Craig Calkins (Manhattan Beach, CA) were closest to Mendez starting the day, but Horsch faded with an 82 while Calkins shot 75 to miss out on a playoff by one shot.
No else was able to make a move. Mark Weston (Windermere, FL) and Rusty Strawn (McDonough, GA) both shot respectable scores of 73 in the final round, but it only left them tied for third at 6-over, three shots behind Mendez.
Keith Holmes (Macon, GA), who shot a 69 in the first round, closed with a 76 for a 223 total and a solo fifth place finish.
Scoring was better in the Super Senior division, with Sam Till (Ft Wayne, IN) taking the title with a 3-under 69 for a 3-under 213 total. Tied with George Walker (Fairhope, AL) starting the day, Till was able to edge out his playing partner by a shot. Walker (70) finished as the runner-up at 2 under.
Peter Van Ingen (New York, NY), also tied for the 36-hole lead, was third at 2-over 218 after a 74. Don Russell (Tequesta, FL) and Pete Allen (Southport, NC) rounded out the top five.
Rick Kline (Pinehurst, NC) shot consistent rounds of 73-74-74 to win the Grand Master division by four shots over Gil Stenholm (Burr RIdge, IL) and Randy Reifers (Columbus, OH).
ROUND TWO RECAP
(Wilmington, DE) moved closer to his first major senior win on Wednesday, shooting a 1-over 73 in difficult scoring conditions to push a one-shot lead to four heading in to the final round at the Merit Club.
Mendez opened the tournament with a 4-under 68 to give him a one shot lead over Keith Holmes (Macon, GA), and two over Mike Cassell (Hudson, OH). But with his two closest chasers shooting 79 and 76 respectively in round two, Mendez was able to stay close to par and extend his lead.
Through two rounds he sits at 3-under 141, four shots ahead of Carl Horsch (Eden Prairie, MN) and Craig Calkins (Manhattan Beach, CA ). Horsch had a very solid 1-under 71 while Calkins matched Mendez's 73.
Cassell and Jonathan Valuck (Oklahoma City, OK) are tied for fourth at 2-over 146, with Holmes and Stephen Daly (Wheaton, IL) next at 3-over 147.
In the Super Senior Division, three players enter the final round tied for the lead at even par: first-round leader Sam Till (Fort Wayne, IN), George Walker (Fairhope, AL), and Peter Van Ingen (New York, NY).
Rick Kline (Pinehurst, NC) hass a one-shot lead in the Grand Master division over first-round leader Gil Stenholm (Burr Ridge, IL).
ROUND ONE RECAP
took the early lead Tuesday at the Merit Club as the annual Jack Hesler Tournament got underway. Mendez, from Wilmington, Del., opened with a 4-under 68 that gave him a one-shot cushion on Keith Holmes
of Macon, Ga.
Mendez, 58, was the Delaware Player of the Year in 2015. He has two top-25 finishes already in 2018 at the Chanticleer Senior Invitational and the Golfweek Senior POY Classic.
Holmes, meanwhile, tied for ninth at the Timuquana Cup Senior earlier this year. He was T-7 at last year’s Hesler.
Stephen Maddalena of Jackson, Miss., had a 2-under 70 while Michael Cassell of Hudson, Ohio, and Stephen Daly of Wheaton, Ill., had 71. They were the only other players to get under par in the opening round at the Merit Club.
Doug Hanzel has won this event the past two years, but is not in the field this year. Neither is Paul Schlachter, who won the Hesler the two years before that. It leaves room for another player to leave his mark on the event.
In the Super Senior division, Sam Till of Fort Wayne, Ind., leads by one with a 1-under 71. Gil Stenholm of Burr Ridge, Ill., also had a 71 to lead the Grand Master division.