Rick Stimmel (Society of Seniors Photo)
The final round at the 40th Ralph Bogart Tournament at Innisbrook Resort’s difficult Copperhead course started out on Tuesday morning with chilly temperatures in the mid-40s.
Windy conditions posed challenging scoring conditions as it did for the first two rounds. Clear blue skies gave way to plenty of sunshine as the action began to heat up on the course. Senior Division
Rick Stimmel of Pittsburgh, Pa., battled back against a red-hot Mike Combs of Roswell, Ga., and Kevin VandenBerg, of Pulaski, N.Y. Stimmel posted consistent rounds of 71-73-73 for a 4-over total of 217 to win by one stroke over Combs and VandenBerg.
Combs sprinted out of the gate and grabbed the lead thanks to a 4-under start through his first six holes. But a couple of late bogeys in the infamous Copperhead ‘Snake Pit’ on Nos. 17 and 18 erased his two-shot lead for most of the final nine. Stimmel made a great birdie on No. 16 from 138 yards to get back in the hunt. He would go on to par Nos. 17 and 18 to seal the one-shot victory.
A relative newcomer to Senior golf, Stimmel turned 55 in August last year, so 2023 was his first crack at the senior ranks. He qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur in the summer, made match play, and then also played and won both the Senior Porter Cup this past fall and the Senior Dixie Amateur last week.
“The golf course is one of the harder that I’ve played, especially given the weather conditions,” said Stimmel. “We don’t see this kind of trouble on every hole in western Pennsylvania like there is here. Our group was playing pretty badly early, so we didn’t look at scores until hole nine. We saw Mike was 4-under on the front and figured he was going to run away with it. I’m thankful to get the win and enjoyed the great competition and camaraderie.”Super Senior Division
The year of Gregory Goode, of Salina, Kan., has ended with yet another victory in the Super Senior division. Goode got off to a great start with a first round of 2-under 69 and held onto the lead throughout for the wire-to-wire win. He would finish at 5-over overall for a total of 218, three strokes ahead of runner-up John Armstrong of Frostburg, Md., who carded the low round of the day in the Super Senior division with a 1-over 72.
“I actually hit a lot of drivers this week and it worked out,” said Goode. “I played well on Sunday in those really tough conditions, so that was nice to get off to a good start. I kind of struggled with my putting the last couple of days, but I’m happy with the year and to end on another high note on a tough golf course.”Legend Division
Don Donatoni of West Chester, Pa., has done it again. Donatoni fended off all challengers on the Copperhead course thanks to some solid course management and consistent ball-striking. Donatoni posted rounds of 73-73-74 to finish at 7-over, 220, six strokes ahead of runner-up Pete Allen, of Southport, N.C.
“I came into this event with low expectations as a result of having some recent surgery and not practicing much in the cold weather around Philly,” said Donatoni. “I went to the range on Sunday and things were just clicking. Playing with a lead allowed me to be conservative and just try to make a lot of pars, which is important on such a difficult golf course where you can make big numbers on any of six or eight holes out here. My irons were solid all week and I was happy to be able to flight the ball nicely in the high winds. It’s great to finish off the year with a win.” Grand Master Division
Henry Cole, of Monroe, La., shot a sparkling round of 1-under par 70 in round two of the tournament to seize a lead he would not relinquish. Cole would finish the 40th edition of ‘The Bogie’ with rounds of 77-70-75 for a 9-over total of 222, eight strokes ahead of runner-up Johnny Blank, of Frostburg, Md.
“I think the second round was the most important being able to shoot under par and take the lead,” said Cole. “I played pretty solid here today and pretty much kept it in play off the tee, which you have to do here with all the trouble lurking. I was fortunate to have a couple of nice sand saves today that kept the round going.”
ABOUT THE Ralph Bogart Tournament
54-hole stroke play event open to members of the
Society of Seniors Golf Association. There will be
senior, super senior, legends, grand
master and super grand master divisions.
View Complete Tournament Information