Keith Decker (USGA photo)
By Andrew Blair
Keith Decker, 59, of Martinsville, Va., shot a final round score of even-par 72 to cruise to a six-shot victory in the senior division of the David King Senior Invitational, which concluded today at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, Va.
Decker posted a second round 67, best in the senior division to balloon his lead to five strokes, and coasted to the title (4-under 212 aggregate). Decker won the event for a fourth straight year and his victory margin was his second largest in that victory run after rolling to an 11-stroke victory last year. Evergreen member David Prokop of Haymarket, Va., had a final round-best 71 and finished second (2-over 218).
Decker continues to add chapter and verse to his already-rich legacy that includes 28 Virginia State Golf Association titles and induction into the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame in 2017. He’s more than learned how to win during that time; in fact, he’s mastered it. Sometimes that means finding momentum on the first day, which Decker did, birdieing three of the final four holes to help set the tone for the rest of the event.
“That got my mind in a better place than it was,” Decker said. “It was a good, solid three days. Winning never gets old. The alternative is not that good.”
Decker noted that some of the shot values at Evergreen resemble the ones at the course he grew up playing and still tours, including Forest Park Country Club (grew up playing there) and Chatmoss Country Club, both located in Martinsville, Va.
“I really like the golf course,” Decker said of Evergreen. “It suits my eye well, is tree-lined and reminds me of the courses I play at home.”
The super senior division (ages 65-69) followed much the same script as Decker’s win, with John Armstrong (Frostburg, Md.) using a second-day best 66 to go on to notch a six-shot win (6-under 210). D.C.-area golfer Tim Vigotsky (Centreville, Va.), who returned a day two 69, was second (even-par 216).
Armstrong was the only competitor in the super senior category to post two under-par rounds. Day two was the key as the 68-year-old Armstrong bettered his age by two strokes.
“I really bettered my age. I’m tickled to death to be able to do that,” Armstrong said with a laugh. “I have a special place for the Dave King Invitational and Evergreen Country Club.”
Armstrong claimed his third title in the event in the past four years, adding to his victories in 2016 and 2018. His short game was his most formidable ally on the pivotal second day, using only 29 putts and missing just one green in regulation.
“For some reason, I was able to find the bottom of the cup,” Armstrong said. “My lag putting wasn’t the best (Tuesday), but I made all of the 3- and 4-footers.”
Among the competitors in the Legends’ category, George Washburn (Frederick, Md.) used a last day-best score of 3-under 69 to edge Bob Albus (1-under 71) by two strokes.
Washburn, 72, played bogey-free with three birdies in the final round to successfully defend his title and secure his second victory overall in the event. He came in playing well, having won last week’s Jack Hesler Tournament, a Society of Seniors’ event.
“It was sort of a rough start to the year, but things are starting to pick up a little bit,” Washburn said.
In the super legends’ division (ages 75 and older), Arlington’s Peter Jacobi fired a final round low score of 67 in the category to wipe out a two-stroke closing day deficit to record a six-shot win over overnight leader Jack Vardaman of Washington, D.C. (last-day 75).
Jacobi was the only competitor to fire two rounds in the 60s among the super legends’, carding 68 in round one. On the final day, he collected six birdies to offset a bogey. The 76-year-old Jacobi made four early birdies in a five-hole stretch in the shotgun start format to help climb out of a three-shot hole to Vardaman.
“I was telling someone, ‘It felt really good to have a good round of golf.’ I really enjoyed that,” Jacobi said. “I didn’t expect that. I thought Jack was off to the races.”
ABOUT THE Dave King Senior
The Dave King Senior
Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play championship
Country Club in Haymarket, Virginia. Senior (age
Super Senior (65+), and Legends (70+) divisions.
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