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NCGA Senior Championship: How the West was won
Photo courtesy of NCGA
Photo courtesy of NCGA

Corey West lost it, but then came back in dramatic fashion.

A member at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, West bounced back from a painful bogey on the 54th hole of regulation with a 45-foot birdie putt for the win on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Mark Morgan to capture the 60th NCGA Senior Championship on Wednesday at Poppy Hills. It marked the first NCGA victory for the 59-year-old West.

“It feels fantastic,” said West, who finished the event with a three-day total of 2-over 215. “I feel like I had to win it twice.”

Arriving at the par-5 18th hole in regulation, West had a two-shot lead over Morgan and looked to be in firm control of the championship. West’s approach shot, however, fell into the front greenside bunker. Facing an awkward lie, his fourth shot still left him in the bunker. He’d eventually get up-and-down for a bogey, but Morgan, a three-time winner of the NCGA Senior Valley Amateur, would make a clutch birdie on 18 to tie for the lead.

On the first playoff hole (par-16th), West appeared doomed when his approach shot—from the fairway bunker—again found a deep greenside bunker. Morgan, who had reached the green in two, had a birdie putt for the win but missed. West, meanwhile, made a fantastic sand save to a flagstick near the back of the green to keep the playoff going.

A hole later on the par-3 17th, both players had long putts after reaching the green in regulation. West’s 45-foot birdie fell in, while Morgan’s putt missed. Earlier in the round, West had almost the exact same putt and had missed.

“It ended up being a lot more exciting than if I had just made par on 18 to finish,” joked West, who’d shoot a final round 75. “I could’ve saved everyone some time.”

In the final round, West, who opened with a 68, would not only be tested by Morgan, but also NCGA Hall of Famer Randy Haag and former USGA champion Jeff Wilson, among others. Morgan had a final round 73 to force the extra holes. Haag, who placed third, had a 70 to finish at 217. Wilson finished in a tie for fourth at 218 along with 2020 champ Robert Funk and Jim Plotkin.

“I just focused on playing my own game. Mark (Morgan) and Jeff (Wilson) are fantastic guys. They were wonderful to play with,” West said.

While Morgan lost, the Serrano CC member did pick up his own big prize. By virtue of his runner-up finish, Morgan took over the top spot in the standings to claim 2020-21 NCGA Senior Player of the Year honors.

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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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