Rusty Strawn wins playoff in rain shortened Florida Senior Azalea
Rusty Strawn wins Florida Senior Azalea (Photo: Society of Seniors)
Rusty Strawn wins Florida Senior Azalea (Photo: Society of Seniors)

Rusty Strawn fired rounds of 69 and 67 to win the Florida Senior Azalea in a playoff over Doug Hanzel. Strawn and Hanzel, both hailing from Georgia, added to the growing legacy of senior golf in their home state. Georgia has five of the top six senior golfers in the AmateurGolf.com rankings.

Strawn has enjoyed a very solid run of form lately. While this was his first win in 2022, he has finished in the top 10 in five of his six events this year. Dating back to 2021, his last 11 events have been extraordinary; he has nabbed three wins and five top fives.

At the Palatka Golf Club, the rain washed out the first round, shortening the event to 36 holes. Saturday was a wind-swept day, making the Donald Ross layout a challenge. 25-30 mph gusts forced players to choose their shots wisely. Strawn and Hanzel did just that, shooting rounds of 69 and 68, respectively.

While the wind died down on Sunday, the chill in the air was the new factor for the field as temperatures touched the high 30s in the morning. Strawn opened his final round with a 4-under par front nine. Even with that hot start, Hanzel kept pace and was within two shots as they made the turn. Things can happen quickly down the stretch of a golf tournament, and Strawn found that out the hard way. His tee shot on the tenth hole scurried through the fairway and out of bounds. Hanzel birdied the tenth, causing three shot swing. Strawn was suddenly one shot behind.

The dynamic duo battled during the closing eight holes. Hanzel stretched his lead to two shots after a birdie on the thirteenth hole. Strawn made up the two shots, as Hanzel made bogey on the 14, and Strawn birdied the seventheen hole with a downhill 8-foot putt, which tied the two players with one hole to play.

Hanzel had a birdie look on the eighteenth to win, but he missed and Strawn forced the play-off with a six footer for par. Strawn did not waste much time in the playoff. A steady iron shot from 164 yards into a steady breeze left him 20 feet for the win. With Hanzel considering his par putt, Strawn poured in his birdie putt for the win.

Strawn was very pleased with the victory and praised the golf course, "The course was in great shape," he said via text message. "It’s an awesome Donald Ross design. Ronnie Tumlin, the Tournament Director and the Palatka Golf Course staff do an awesome job."

The victory is another notch in Strawn's belt.

"The Florida Senior Azalea has a lot of history and I am proud to be their champion," he said.

In the super senior division, David Anthony added to his Florida Azalea trophy collection with a victory following a three-way playoff with Marc Fried and Jack Kearney. The three men all shot a total of 147 for the two rounds. Anthony's final round 70 made up for a disappointing 77 in the opening round.

Don Russell edged out Bob Casamento to win the legends division by one shot with a total score of 143.

In the super legends division, Jim Carley's opening round 66 gave him quite a bit of breathing room, and he won by four shots over Fred Peel.

Results: Florida Azalea Senior
1GARusty StrawnMcDonough, GA70069-67=136
T2GADoug HanzelSavannah, GA40068-68=136
T2FLJohn BarryBradenton, FL40070-69=139
4NYKevin VandenbergPulaski, NY30073-70=143
T5GAJack HallSavannah, GA30071-75=146

View full results for Florida Azalea Senior

ABOUT THE Florida Azalea Senior

54 hole stroke play championship with Senior (ages 55+), Super Senior (ages 64-69), Legends (ages 70- 74) and Super Legends (ages 75+) divisions. Players will be grouped into six flights by handicap. After 36 holes the Championship flight will be cut to top 70 players and ties.

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