held off Jerry Gunthorpe
to win his second straight Golfweek Senior Tournament of Champions. Elliott’s total score of even par was a testament to three steady rounds of 70-73-70 at The Forest Country Club in Ft. Myers, Florida.
This was not the first time that Gunthorpe and Elliott battled down the stretch this year. They were the finalists in the U.S. Senior Amateur this summer at the Country Club of Detroit. In that match, Elliott won the final two holes to win the championship 1-up.
At The Forest Country Club, the two were not paired together because Gunthorpe’s second round 78 left him five shots behind Elliott. That meant Elliott didn’t have a front row seat for Gunthorpe’s hot start; he birdied three of the first four holes en route to a front nine 32.
“It’s a ball striker’s golf course,” Elliott said. “The greens have a lot of slope on them. If a pin is tucked you have to play to the safe side of the green or it will end up rolling off the edge.
Elliott used his ball striking to keep Gunthorpe at arms distance with a 34 of his own; even after a nervous bogey on the ninth hole, he made the turn with a three shot lead.
“I hit a good drive on nine, which was probably a bad thing. It’s a quirky par five and I thought I could hit the green. So I gave it a try and nearly hit it out of bounds.” Elliott said.
On the back nine, the birdies dried up for both players, and Elliott started to feel a bit of pressure. After hitting a bunker shot to four feet on the 13th hole, he three-putted for a double-bogey. He steadied the ship, though.
“I made a birdie on fifteen and decided to see where I stood,” he said with a bit of a chuckle. “So I pulled out my phone and saw that Jerry was four-under for his round.”
Unfortunately for Elliott, the scoring was inaccurate; a birdie on his front nine was recorded as a par. His lead was one shot smaller on his phone than it was in real life. The discrepancy wasn’t fixed until after the round.
This made the 18th hole a bit touchy for Elliott, too. His tee shot found a fairway bunker, and after hitting the lip with this second shot, he was left with an 80-yard shot. He thought he had a one-shot lead, which meant he would need to get up and down for the win.
“I got to the green and checked my phone again and saw that Jerry had bogeyed eighteen,” Elliott said.
That meant all he had to do was take two putts from 10-feet to win. In actuality, he could have three putted due to the scoring error. When the dust settled, Elliott finished at even par and Gunthorpe finished two over.
“One shot win. Two shot win. I was just glad to get it in the barn,” a relieved Elliott said.
Rounding out the top five were Steven McPherson, Joe Shaktman, and Dave Bunker.
In the super senior division, Edward Turner, 68, beat Robin Rubrecht, 68, by one shot. Turner carded rounds of 75-74-75. John Armstrong, Doug Hopton-Jones, and Steven Moran finished in a tie for third place with a total score of plus 12.
In the legends division, David Bates of Newburgh, IN, and Jim Rollefson, of Bonita Springs, FL, finished tied for first place with a total score of plus 8. Jim Kamis finished one shot back.
Finally, the super legend champion was Gil Stenholm of Hinsdale, IL. Stenholm finished with a score of plus 12, beating Jack Marin by two shots for the victory.
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