Stephen Fox (Society of Seniors Photo)
In the Legend division, Stephen Fox of Pinehurst, N.C., won by ten strokes after shooting under par in all three rounds of the competition. Fox posted scores of 71-67-69 for a 9-under total of 207. Evan Long of Charlotte, N.C., finished runner-up at 1-over, followed by Peter Van Ingen of Palm Beach, Fla., at 2-over.
By his own standards, Fox got off to a bit of a slow start on Thursday morning, but he turned it on down the stretch by making five birdies on his closing nine to win going away.
"This was my first event in the Legend division, so it was fun," said Fox. "I used my length to my advantage and hit the ball solid all week and had the scoring clubs going. I had played here in the past during some travel as a Golf Digest rater, so that helped a bit as well. The course was in great shape, especially the greens, and the club staff was very helpful."
Grand Master Division
Johnny Blank of Frostburg, Md., continued his strong play throughout the '23 season in the Grand Master division, this time shooting under par in two out of three rounds. His lone non-red total for the week happened in round two when he shot a 1-over score of 73.
On Thursday, he made it look easy in front of his fellow competitors by making six birdies on his way to a final round of 4-under 68 and a 5-under total. Ron Johnson of Arroyo Grande, Calif., and Dennis Younglove of El Macero, Calif., tied for runner-up at 11-over.
"This is a great golf course, the greens were very challenging and in really good shape," said Blank. "I hit the ball very well all week and kept it in the fairway off the tee. My putting was very good, which it has to be around here if you want to have a good score. The weather was great, and I'm happy to come away with the win."
In the Senior division, Bryan Hancock of Hoschton, Ga., slept on a nice lead heading into the final round. However, he thought he may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Despite not having his A-game on Thursday, Hancock grinded out a score of 81 to go with his previous rounds of 72 and 71 to post a three-day total of 8-over to take home the trophy. Jeffrey Wells of Southern Pines, N.C., grabbed runner-up honors.
"It was pretty ugly today," said Hancock. "The first two days, I was on point, and I feel that was a better representation of my game, but today I was just off for whatever reason. I'm proud of not giving up and not getting too discouraged, and still being able to win. The golf course was really good, and overall, the venue was great."
Super Senior Division
Gregory Goode of Salina, Kan., also entered the final round with a nice lead and struggled a bit today in the breezy conditions. After starting his round five over through four holes, his overnight lead was all but gone. From there, Goode was able to settle in a bit and play well enough to win by three strokes over runner-up Michael Arter of Lakeville, Mass. Goode carded rounds of 73-74-80 for an 11-over total.
"I was just trying to hit a lot of fairways, lots of 2-irons off the tee has been my recipe for success throughout the year," said Goode. "I only hit the driver if I feel really confident. My goal was to keep it in play and try to play to the right section of these greens, which are tough and very undulating. Today wasn't my best, but it was a good week at another great venue."
On a day when the majority of the field struggled starting out in the cool morning temperatures and breezy conditions, the Legend division featured five scores under par in the final round. In addition to Fox's 68, Long and Jeffrey Knox of Jupiter, Fla., each posted 70, and Van Ingen and George Walker of Fairhope, Ala., fired rounds of 71.
During the practice round on Monday, Stephen Fox made a hole-in-one on No. 5 with a 6-iron. He thinks it was his 11th or 12th ace, but who's counting? Even more impressive, Michael Arter played the course on Sunday, making an ace on No. 8 with a 9-iron, and followed that up with another ace on No. 17 with a 6-iron during Wednesday's second round of competition.