DADE CITY, Fla. — Only six eagles were made across 54 holes at the Golfweek Senior Player-of-the-Year Classic. For McDonough, Ga. resident Rusty Strawn, it was his three at the par-5 2nd that jumpstarted his Monday morning and eventual 66 at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club to send him towards victory.
"I figured something out on the range yesterday after not hitting the ball very well," said Strawn in an AmateurGolf.com exclusive interview.
Now, mind you, we would all like to shoot 72 when not playing well. In Strawn's case, when the little something he figured out on Sunday clicked in Monday, he was not longer trying to get up and down to save pars; his short game was leading to red numbers.
Strawn, winner of the Ralph Bogart Senior last month, caught Paul Royak after 9-holes, and sealed his two-stroke win with four consecutive back-nine birdies, on Nos. 12-15, two of which are par-3s.
He third-wheeled brothers Bob and Paul Royak in Monday's final pairing, needing to make up two shots on the younger sibling Paul. That was quickly accomplished with Strawn eagling two and birdieing three. Paul would go on to post two-under par 70, while Bob fell apart midway through the round with three consecutive bogeys to begin the inward nine en route to a 77.
Strawn said Bob Royak didn't have his best stuff, but he gave the accomplished senior his due.
"That's our National Senior Amateur champion," Strawn said of Bob Royak. "He didn't play his best but Paul [Royak] gave it everything he had all the way to the last few holes.
Strawn and second-round leader Paul had distanced themselves considerably from the rest of the field as the four men who tied for third place finished five behind the runner-up position.
Keith Decker, who was just two back to begin the day, closed with bogeys at 16 and 18 to shoot 73. He slipped into a tie for third with Jimmy Jones and Richard Kerper, who both posted 71s in their third round.
Walter Todd rounds out the group who finished at 1-under for the tournament, with the Laurens, S.C. resident being the most consistent (72-71-72) of the bunch.
Aside from the winner, it was Allen Peake making the biggest move on Monday. His final-round 68 began with an ordinary even-par display on the front side, but he circled four numbers coming in to jump inside the top-10 with a T9 showing.
Winning the Super Senior division was Timothy Pope of Spartanburg, S.C., who needed one extra hole to knock off Kent Samuel. Pope made a clutch birdie at the 17th to join Samuel at 6-over for the event.
James Castagna, the leader after 36 holes, failed to make a birdie on Monday and posted 79 to fall back into a tie for fourth place.
ABOUT THE Golfweek Senior POY Classic
Premier tournament featuring the world’s elite senior
amateurs age 55 and up, in
three separate divisions: Senior (age 55-64), Super
Senior (age 65-69), Legends
(age 70-74) and Super Legends (age 75+). Max
The tournament honors Golfweek's top three
nationally ranked players in the Senior,
Super Senior and Legends division. The "Yancey
Ford Award" is also presented,
honoring an individual who has made significant
lifetime contributions to amateur
Formerly known as the Golfweek Senior National
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