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Haag, Padilla share lead at NCGA Senior
Randy Haag (NCGA photo)
Randy Haag (NCGA photo)

Despite battling an ankle injury, Olympic Club member Randy Haag has his eyes set on winning NCGA Senior Player of the Year honors.

His pursuit of winning his second Senior POY crown got off to a good start.

Haag, who won the honor in 2017, grabbed a share of the lead at this week’s annual NCGA Senior Championship by posting a solid 2-under 69 on a spectacular Wednesday at the par-71 Poppy Hills GC. He’ll enter the second round tied with Tony Padilla, who’s no stranger to Haag.

While Haag went on to win Senior POY honors in 2017, at that year’s Senior Championship, Padilla broke Haag’s heart by draining a 70-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 18th and final hole of regulation for the victory.

In Wednesday’s first round, Haag, whose ankle forced him to withdraw from August’s NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, posted seven birdies to go against three bogeys and a double-bogey.

Padilla, a college basketball referee who has worked the Final Four, carded seven birdies and five bogeys.

The two have a slew of pursuers. Bobby Schaeffer, Chris Miller and Steve Donnelly, who won the 2018 NCGA Senior Four-Ball, all are just two shots back after opening with 71.

Only three shots behind the leaders are John Mack and Casey Boyns, who won back-to-back titles in 2015-’16. Others in the immediate hunt include Mike Rowley, Mark Sowlakis and recent NCGA Senior Valley Am champ Mark Morgan (73).

Entering the event, Haag was in second place in the race for Senior Player of the Year honors at 1,524 points. He trailed leader Jeff Wilson (1,650 points) by 126. Wilson is competing at this weekend’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

Also in the mix is Morgan. He entered the event 257 points behind Wilson. He’d need to win and have both Wilson and Haag not play well.

Thursday’s second round will tee off at 7:30 a.m. Following play, a cut will be made with the low 30 (and ties) advancing to Friday’s final round.

ABOUT THE NCGA Senior

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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