Vance Welch (Maryland GA)
(Fulton, Md.) is the Plantation Senior Invitational in Venice, Fla. with a final total of 5-over par. The third round was a rollercoaster for the entire field of players; no one shot even par or better.
A score of 5-over par would have finished in sixth place in the 2022 edition of the Plantation Senior. Allen Peake won the event with a score of 2-under par last year. However, the Plantation Golf and Country Club does often pose a challenge, as Peake is the only player in the last two years to shoot under par for the event.
The low score of the final round was by Steven Houle
(Bradenton, Fla.) with a 73. He tallied five birdies, four bogeys, and one double bogey.
Welch's 75 was enough to climb to the top of the leaderboard at the end of 54 holes. In his final round foursome, Welch's score was four shots better than Kevin Vandenberg
, six shots better than Dave Bunker
, and seven shots better than Brad Rollinson
"The wind made the conditions very tough so controlling your ball into the greens was very important and my key to victory," Welch said. "I think my ability to keep the ball low into the wind and hitting a lot of greens made the difference."
Bunker (Ontario, Canada) finished in second place, but he started the day four shots clear of Welch. His rounds of 74-68-81 left him at 7-over par for the tournament.
The four top players in the field each made at least one double bogey in their final round. The tournament turned on its head when Bunker made back-to-back double bogies on hole Nos. 7 and 8. During the round, Bunker made two birdies, five bogeys, and three double bogeys.
In contrast to the zany rounds by his opponents, Welch's scorecard was incredibly clean. He started his round with 13 straight pars. While he didn't make a birdie in the final round, and a double bogey on the 17th hole made things a bit tense on the 54th hole, Welch's performance was good enough to lock in a victory.
Welch credits a big risk on the 16th as a pivotal moment in his round.
"In the final round on the 16th hole I had a two-shot lead and my opponent was in trouble. Sixteen is a par 5, and the second shot is entirely over water," Welch wrote in an email. "It was a pretty easy to lay up, but I decided I didn't drive to Florida to lay up. It was a perfect five wood shot. So I started the ball at the middle of the green and the wind blew it just left but pin high and I left that hole with it four shot lead with two to play."
Welch is a staple in Maryland amateur competition, having won the 2020 Maryland Senior Amateur championship.
"I've been on a nice roll lately. I've won my last five tournaments, and helped Maryland win the four State Challenge versus Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey," Welch said. "And Team Maryland beat Northern Virginia in the Potomac challenge."
ABOUT THE Plantation Senior Invitational
Debuting in 2022, this is the first tournament of the
major senior amateur season, kicking off the senior
Florida Swing. 54-hole stroke play
tournament with Senior
(ages 55+), super senior (65+), legends (70+) and
super legends (75+) divisions.
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