NCGA Senior: Knoll puts his name in the record book
Jim Knoll with Robert Funk (L) and Scott Anderson (R) (NCGA photo)
Jim Knoll with Robert Funk (L) and Scott Anderson (R) (NCGA photo)

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (September 21, 2018) - Rooster Run Golf Club member and record five-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll may now be a Super Senior, but he’s still got it.

The 66-year-old Sunnyvale resident shot a final round 1-over 72 Friday that included clutch birdies on the 16th and closing 18th holes at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course to hold off newly-turned senior Robert Funk and win the annual NCGA Senior Championship.

For Knoll, the win was significant in a number of ways. It marked his ninth career senior NCGA title, tying him with Gary Vanier and Jim McMurtrey for the most all-time. He also joined Cornelius Bertolone and Kai Thomsen (three) and Jim McMurtrey (five) as the only players to have won the event at least three times.

Most importantly though, the victory was proof that Knoll can still win. While he’d capture this year’s NCGA Super Senior Four-Ball crown with partner Kemp Richardson, his last victory as an individual came at the 2017 Sonoma Valley Amateur.

“This one is pretty big,” said Knoll, who finished the championship with a three-day total of 1-over 214. “Earlier this year my game was mediocre. I wasn’t playing much, and I wasn’t playing well. So I didn’t play much. But I get so much constant support from the guys, and that’s so encouraging.”

Entering the championship, and knowing how hard Poppy Hills can play, Knoll’s game plan was to just try and make pars. He’d execute to perfection, carding 40 pars over his 54 holes. Buoying his chances were seven total birdies, including three in the final round that offset two bogeys and a double-bogey.

“I know how hard this course can be. My focus was realy good this week,” Knoll said. ‘The older I get, the harder it is for me to concentrate all 18 holes. I was able to do that.”

Knoll, who entered the final round holding a one-shot lead, fell a stroke behind Funk when his approach shot to the green on the par-4 3rd took off and scooted through the green. But Knoll kept hanging in there, eventually regaining his one-stroke lead with just four holes to play.

On the par-4 16th, Knoll upped the cushion to two shots when he stiffed his 7-iron approach shot to within inches of the flagstick.

A hole later on the 17th, Funk pulled his drive left into the trees, leading to a double-bogey. While Knoll would make bogey, his lead grew to three. On the closing par-5 18th, Funk, who made the cut at this year’s U.S. Senior Open, made eagle but Knoll got on in two and made birdie to seal the victory.

“I was ill prepared for the wind and fog,” said Funk, who lives in Canyon Lake. “But Jim played great. It was neat to see.”

The championship did have a somber tone due to the recent passing of fellow senior competitor and regular Steve Wilson. In honor of Wilson, photos were placed on both the 1st and 10th tees.

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First played in 1962, the NCGA Senior Championship is the association’s premier event for players aged 55 and over. The championship will be 54-holes of stroke play (18 holes per day). After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 30 individuals and ties. Pre- qualifying required for non-exempt players. Players must have a handicap index of 7.4 or less.

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