Mark Lindberg (Credit: Gyles Robin)
Golf is hard enough on its own, add in the crucible of competition with the reigning U.S. and Canadian Senior Amateur champion nipping at your heels, and golf might seem downright impossible. This is what Mark Lindberg
faced in the final round of the Gateway Senior Invitational.
In the end Lindberg (Irving, Texas), held off AGC Senior Player of the Year Rusty Strawn
by two shots to win.
Lindberg set the tone early with a 68 in the opening round. It was the low score of the event, matched only by Allen Peake's in the third round. Lindberg tallied six birdies en route to that 68 with a double bogey on the par-3 fourth as the only blemish on the card.
The second round wasn't as kind to Lindberg, a 74 brought him back to the pack, but the overall scoring during the second round was high; only three players were under par on the day.
Due to a shotgun start, the final round started on the eighth hole for Lindberg, who was paired with Strawn, Miles McConnell
,and Bob Jacobs
. Lindberg's lead over Strawn and McConnell was one shot. Jacobs was two shots off the lead when the shotgun sounded to kick off the final round.
The four division winners (credit: Gyles Robin)
It was the Strawn (McDonough, Ga.) who stepped forward as Lindberg's main challenger. Jacobs (Valparaiso, Ind.) played consistent golf, shooting an even-par 72 with one birdie and one bogey. McConnell (Tampa, Fla.) fell off the pace with bogeys on hole Nos. 8, 10, 12, and 13. He'd finish his day with a 76.
Birdies on hole Nos. 11, 13, and 14 helped Strawn put some pressure on Lindberg, but Lindberg didn't crack. He returned the jabs with his own birdies on hole Nos. 11 and 13. However, a bogey on 12 gave Strawn a chance to pounce.
Those seven holes saw quite the flurry of birdies and Lindberg had relinquished the lead when they reached the 15th tee. Over the closing eleven holes, however, Strawn shot 2-over par and Lindberg carded ten pars and a birdie to race past Strawn.
A solid 2-putt par on the fifth hole, their 16th of the day, stood out to Lindberg.
"I had a thirty-foot putt from off the green, but it was a putt I had to putt across the fringe and across the cut of the fringe," Lindberg wrote in an email to AGC. "It literally could have ended up ten feet away or even stuck up in the fringe. I was able to get it to about four and a half feet below the hole and, luckily, made the putt for par.
Following that par, a pivotal birdie on the sixth hole gave Lindberg a bit of breathing room with a three shot lead. Strawn managed to birdie the seventh hole but it proved to be too little too late, and Lindberg's 4-under total got the job done for the Texan.
"Rusty is an awesome competitor and clearly a very accomplished golfer," Lindberg said. "I knew I would not be able to make any mistakes, I would need to hit fairways and greens and make a few putts along the way to contend."
Lindberg did just that to secure a memorable victory.
Across the other divisions, close battles were fought, too.
In the super senior flight, James Starnes
(Fort Myers, Fla.) shot back to back rounds of 70 to beat Stephen Sharpe
(Greensboro, N.C.) by one shot. Starnes finished with a total score of 1-over par.
(Bridgewater, Penn.) rallied with a closing 69 and beat Jerry Hudgins
by a shot. Both players finished the tournament under par, with Schlachter at 3 under and Hudgins at 2 under.
(Bryn Mawr, Penn.) won the super legends with a final score of 10-over par. He carded rounds of 77-74-75 to win by a shot over Eddie Litten. Polizzi's closing 75 erased Litten's four shot lead.
ABOUT THE Gateway Senior Invitational
Second tournament of the major senior amateur
season. 54-hole stroke play tournament with Senior
(ages 55+), super senior (65+), legends (70+) and
super legends (75+) divisions.
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