Brian Keenan defeats Ken Kinkopf for Golfweek Senior Match Play crown
Brian Keenan (Golfweek photo)
Brian Keenan (Golfweek photo)

by Brayden Conover

After three days and 40 total matches, the Golfweek Senior National Match Play has crowned four champions across each of its respective age divisions.

Forty-two top senior amateur players from around the country ranging in age from 55 to 79 years old made Duke University Golf Club their playground for the past week, carding scores that would not only flirt with their ages, but in some cases shatter them.

Aside from the title of champion, winners of each bracket take home a trophy and add 1,200 Golfweek Player of the Year points to their name. As the season begins to slow down, Player of the Year points are becoming more and more important to those vying for the top spot come year’s end.

Senior Bracket (55-64)

Four-seed, Brian Keenan, earned his way into the final with a 5-and-4 win over No. 13 Brian Kennedy and a 2-and-1 win over No. 5 Allen Peake on Wednesday. In the semifinals, Keenan took down No. 8 Craig Hurlbert 1 up to set up a final against No. 6 Ken Kinkopf.

Kinkopf’s journey to the final was seemingly a breeze. Riding a hot hand all week, Kinkopf won his first two matches 8 and 7 and 4 and 2. The latter came against Golfweek No. 3 Kevin VandenBerg, a favorite heading into the week. Cruising to a 6-and-5 victory in the semifinals against No. 7 Kirk Wright, Kinkopf was a likely favorite heading into the final match.

Picking up right where he left off, Kinkopf took the first hole with a par on No. 1. Countering the early lead, Keenan tied the match immediately with a par of his own on No. 2 before taking the lead with a birdie on No. 4.

Knowing Kinkopf could heat up at any moment, Keenan kept applying pressure, taking a 3-up lead as the match made its way to the back nine.

With Kinkopf running out of steam after a stellar week, Keenan was able to win three of the first four holes of the back side to command a 5-up lead through 13 holes.

Not going down without a fight, Kinkopf holed out for eagle on No. 14 out of a greenside bunker to pull back within four.

“He [Kinkopf] told me he had me right where he wanted me,” Kennan chuckled. “He’s a friend and I was glad to have a chance to play him. He’s won a lot of these [Golfweek] events over the years so it was nice for me to get the “W” against a friend like that.”

For Keenan, the win puts a bit of wind in his sails as he heads just an hour down the road from Raleigh, North Carolina, over to Pinehurst to play in the Senior North & South next week.

Super Senior Bracket (65-69)

No. 2 seeded James Starnes took down No. 7 Bill Hardaker 3 and 2 and No. 3 John Armstrong 2 and 1 on his way to the Super Senior final. Meeting him there was 4-seed Keith Waters who went 2 up on No. 5 Greg Goode and top-seeded Marcus Beck en route to his championship run.

Starnes and Water needed all 18 holes to decide their match with Waters coming out on top, winning four of the final six holes to swing the match from 2 down to 2 up in his favor.

Legends Bracket (70-74)

Pete Allen (No. 5) and Bev Hargraves (No. 3) squared off for the Legends title. Allen went 4 and 3 against No. 12 Fred Clark and No. 4 John Osborne in Wednesday’s play before taking down No. 1 seed George Walker in the semifinals. Hargreaves received a bye in the first round, rolling to a 19-hole win against Donald Kuehn in the quarterfinals and beat No. 2 Sam Robinson 3 and 2 in the semis.

With both men in the top six in the Golfweek Player of the Year rankings, this match had the most riding on it when it came to the year-long race.

Allen commanded a 3-up lead as the two made the turn with Hargraves unable to get anything to fall in the hole. Matching each other shot for shot from hole 8 to 14, Hargraves was finally able to get on the board with a par on the par-3 15th.

Needing a win on 15 to close the match, Allen lived up to his nickname ‘Pointblank Pete’. Carding a par, Allen won the championship match 3 and 2. With the win, Allen slides up two spots to 4th place with Hargraves just 23 points in front of him with just a handful of points events left in the year.

Golfweek No. 2 Sam Robinson closes the gap between himself and No. 1 George Walker as Robinson won the Legends bracket consolation match 3 and 2. Altogether, the top four spots in the Golfweek Legends Player of the Year rankings are separated by just over 1,200 points, making the final stretch run a fun one to watch.

Super Legends (75+)

The top two seeds in the Super Legends division met in the final. Top seed, John Blank played his way in with a 7-and-5 win over No. 8 Ben Dowdey and a 4-and-3 win over No. 5 Joe Pavoni. Two-seed George Owens went 5 and 3 over No. 7 Richard Kline and advanced to the final after No. 6 John Casstevens withdrew midway through the semifinal match due to injury.

In the final it was Owens who came out on top in a back-and-forth battle. After four lead changes, Owens was able to ice the match with a 1-up victory on the 18th hole.

With the win, Owens closes the gap between himself and Blank, with Bill Engel providing a slight buffer between the two men. Engel was able to earn 275 points this week despite playing down an age bracket, finishing fifth in the Legends bracket.

Results: Golfweek Senior National Match Play
WinFLBrian KeenanTampa, FL500
Runner-upFLKen KinkopfJupiter, FL300
SemifinalsMSCraig HurlbertMadison, MS150
SemifinalsOKKirk WrightOklahoma City, OK150
QuarterfinalsNCTodd HendleyColumbus, NC50

View full results for Golfweek Senior National Match Play

ABOUT THE Golfweek Senior National Match Play

The Golfweek Senior National Match-Play Championship consists of four separate brackets, senior (age 55-64), super-senior (age 65-69), legends (age 74) and super-legends (75+). Over the course of three days, players in each bracket will be whittled to one Senior National Match-Play champion in each division. Unlike other match play tournaments, The Golfweek Senior National Match Play is not a one loss and done tournament. As players are eliminated from match-play they will enter a consolation stroke-play competition using the stableford scoring system.

View Complete Tournament Information

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