Like many players in this pandemic-affected season, Gene Elliott (W. Des Moines, Iowa) hasn't been as active on the national senior circuit as he has in recent years.
Closer to home, Elliott picked up a fifth Iowa Senior title this summer and even more impressively, he won his fifth Iowa Mid-Amateur at the age of 58 this fall.
When he has traveled this year, he has been no less successful. Today, he won the Golfweek Senior Tournament of Champions at The Forest Country Club in Ft. Myers, Fla., holding off the defending champion Rich Buckner (Gainesville, Va.) by three shots. It was his second straight win in a Golfweek Senior major played in the Sunshine State, after taking the Golfweek Challenge Cup at PGA National in October.
Elliott went wire-to-wire with rounds of 70-71-73 (-2), but it wasn't as simple as that sounds. Taking a three-shot lead into the final round, he gained even more breathing room when his closest challenger Buckner bogeyed the first two holes. But his five-shot cushion disappeared completely as Buckner roared back to birdie five holes in a seven-hole stretch and pull even with Elliott at the 11th.
Buckner, though, would immediately hit a wall and bogey the next three holes. When Elliott birdied the par-4 15th, his lead was back up to four and he finished the job from there.
Buckner had rounds of 72-72-73 to finish solo second in his title defense, while Paul Royak (Tampa, Fla.) was two shots further back.
Tommy Brennan (Covington, La.) and Jon Valuck (Oklahoma City, Okla.) tied for fourth at 6 over par.
With the win, Elliott regains the top spot in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Ranking.
Craig Hurlbert (Magnolia, Texas), who struggled in the opening round, rebounded with a 70 in the final round to pull into a tie for eighth and solidify his lead in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Player-of-the-Year points standings.
In the Super Senior division, Doug Hopton-Jones (Mansfield, Texas) shot a closing 73 to erase a seven-shot deficit and edge Kevin Macy (Tampa, Fla.), who had the misfortune of making a 9 on the par-5 14th to lose his lead.
Jim Rollefson (Franklin, Wisc.) won the Legends division by four shots over Jim Kamis (Marietta, Ga.), while Charlie Busbee (Stockbridge, Ga.) won the Super Legends division by one shot over Steve Wilson (Solana Beach, Calif.). Like Macy, Busbee suffered a 9 on the 14th hole but held on for the win.
ABOUT THE Golfweek Senior TOC
54 hole, Medal Play with Senior (55-64),
Super Senior (65-69), and Legends (70+) Divisions.
The Golfweek Senior
Tournament of Champions is open to all winners of
senior events in the last calendar year.
View Complete Tournament Information