Mid-Master champ Rick Livsey
Steve Maddalena made a surge in the home stretch on Thursday to win the Senior Division of the 20th playing of the Trans-Mississippi Senior and Mid-Master Championship in Fairfax, Calif.
Maddalena (Jackson, Mich.), a three-time Michigan state amateur champion, closed with a 2-over par 73 in blustery conditions at The Meadow Club to finish the 54 holes at 4-over par 217. Randy Haag (Orinda, Calif.) wound up one stroke back at 218 after shooting a 73. Michel Mercier (Juno Beach, Fla.) closed with a 74 to finish alone in third place at 219. Gene Elliott (West Des Moines, Ia.), Michael Lance (Fairfax, Calif.), and Mark Morgan (Shingle Springs, Calif.) were all at 220.
Maddalena started the day with a one-shot advantage over Haag but stumbled as he neared the turn, making a double bogey at the par-4 eighth and bogeys at the ninth and 10th. At that point, he trailed Haag by a shot.
But then Maddalena’s putter got hot. He recorded five birdies in a span of six holes, including four straight from the 13th through the 16th to take a three-shot lead. He cited his birdie putt at the par-3 14th as being key to his round.
“It was a sidehill downhiller,” he said, “and it really kept the momentum going. It was my (third birdie in four holes) and it got me back to even par (for the day) which I was pretty thrilled about, considering that walking off of Number 10 I was four over.”
Maddalena and Haag each bogeyed the 17th before Maddalena double bogeyed the 18th.
Maddalena noted that years of tournament experience had prepared him for playing in Thursday’s winds, which at times reached an estimated 30 miles per hour.
“I think all the senior golfers that play at this level have been in pretty awful situations,” he said, as far as wind, and weather, and rain, and cold, things like that. I think you just learn over the years to play the ball down, take a little more club, a better-safe-than-sorry approach to a shot, and try to get the ball in a position where you can two-putt.”
Jay Livsey (Lakewood, Colo.) parred the second extra hole to claim the championship in the Mid-Masters Division for players age 40 and up. Livsey came from eight shots off the pace to defeat defending champ John Bearrie (Marana, Ariz.) and Brad Wilder (Fort Wright, Ky.) in the playoff after the trio finished 54 holes of regulation play at 7-over par 220.
Livsey’s closing 70 made him the only player in the Mid-Masters field to break par during the week. Bearrie closed with a 75 and Wilder, who started the day with a three-shot lead, with a 78.
“I ended up holing out on the first hole (the 10th),” said Livsey. “I started with a pretty good cushion and just kind of held on from there.”
Livsey made bogey on his sixth hole and played even-par golf the rest of the way to get into the playoff. At that point, he thought he had an advantage over his opponents.
“I figured everybody was pretty tired at that point,” he said. “Playing this kind of golf wears you down, obviously. I figured I might have a little advantage. I was a little fresher. My round today was pretty stress free so I was hoping to lean on that a little bit.”
Livsey felt the key to his play during the week was finding the fairway. “I was in play off the tee,” he said, “especially the last two days, so I avoided any huge numbers.
“I calibrated the par threes. That was kind of tricky for me early, but I hit a lot of greens. I paid close attentions to where all the pins were with all the undulations. These greens are a little tricky out here.”
Livsey gave up golf for a time a few years ago for family reasons but has now resumed playing competitively. He enjoyed competing against players his own age this week in a division created for 40-somethings.
“There’s definitely a big difference between 25 and 40 if you’re trying to play golf at this level,” he said. “I’m probably the youngest guy in the field I assume. So, I figured that might be an advantage as well.”
Jeff Burda (LaQuinta, Calif.) scored a four-shot win in the Super-Senior Division for players age 65 and above. He shot a 7-over par 78 on Thursday to finish 54 holes at 10-over par 223.Burda won the Senior Division of this tournament in 2014.John Donnelly (Petaluma, Calif.) and Jim Knoll (Sunnyvale, Calif.) shared second place at 227 after rounds of 77 and 73, respectively.
Chris Meletis (Portland, Ore.) cruised to a seven-shot win in the Legends Division for players age 70 and over. He closed with a 4-over par 75 on Thursday to complete the 54 holes at 10-over par 223.Maletis is now a five-time champion at this event. He has won three Senior titles (2004-05, ’07) and claimed the Super-Senior championship in 2015. James Martin (Dallas) was his closest pursuer; he finished aa 230 after a closing 76. Frank Rose (The Woodland, Texas) and Tom O’Grady (Los Altos, Calif.) shared third place at 235.
This marked the third year the tournament featured four divisions. It was originally a senior event (55-plus). The Super-Senior Division was added in 2011 and the Legends two years later before the Mid-Masters were added in 2018. Last year’s tournament was cancelled because of Covid-19.
ABOUT THE Trans-Miss Senior and Mid-Master
The championship will be contested over 54 holes
of individual stroke play with four divisions:
Mid-Master (ages 40+, max handicap 2.0), Senior
handicap 4.0), Super Senior
(65+, max handicap 10.0) and Legends (70+, max
Must be a
Trans-Mississippi Golf Association member
(players may make an individual contribution of
minimum to the Turf Scholarship Fund as part of the
entry process, in lieu of club membership).
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