Jay Gregory, Marcus Beck among first-round leaders at Golfweek Senior POY Classic
Jay Gregory (Minnesota Golf Association Photo)
Jay Gregory (Minnesota Golf Association Photo)

Only one man broke par in Tuesday's opening round of the Golfweek Player of the Year Classic, and he’s leading the tournament’s senior division. Jay Gregory’s 1-under 71 at the Omni Orlando, Fla., at ChampionsGate, included 17 pars and a single birdie on the par-5 No. 8, but that birdie gave him a little edge on two men chasing at even par.

Gregory, of Lineville, Ia,, finished fourth at this event a year ago, a big bump from his T-21 finish in 2022. Interestingly, the Midwesterner may be better known for his work hosting a hunting show on The Sportsman Channel than his golf, though his golf also produced top-10 finishes in a handful of state senior tournaments in 2023. Notably, he won the Iowa Senior Masters, finished in solo sixth place in the Minnesota Senior Amateur, and was eighth at the Iowa Senior Amateur.

Mike Lohner of Southlake, Tex., and Michael Arasin of Auburn, Ala., are tied for second in the senior division with rounds of 72. Lohner’s round was similar to Gregory’s in its steadiness – he had just one bogey and one birdie – while Arasin offset two bogeys and a double with four birdies.

Doug Hanzel, the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and a Georgia Golf Hall of Famer, is in the mix at 1-over, which left him solo fourth place.

In the super senior division, Marcus Beck kickstarted his 2024 season with a round of 1-over 73 that left him one shot ahead of three players tied for second at 2-over. Beck was Golfweek’s Super Senior Player of the Year in 2023 after winning the Florida Senior Azalea and the Reynolds Senior Invitational, finishing runner-up at the Senior Porter Cup and third at the North & South Senior.

Beck, of Tallahassee, Florida, said his game greatly improved in 2023 after a putting lesson he took with Mike Shannon at TPC Sawgrass.

“Same lesson I got when I was 14 years old,” Beck joked, “but it clicked pretty well, and I was happy with that.”

Two players, Bev Hargraves of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Peter Van Ingen of Palm Beach, Florida, are tied for first in the Legends division after opening rounds of 2-over 74. It’s a tight race in that division, with Jeffrey Knox of Jupiter, Florida, and Miles Cumberland of Dublin, Ohio, tied for third at 3-over.

Three players share the lead at 4-over in the Super Legends division: Bill Engel of St. Augustine, Florida, Jack Ramsey of Germantown, Tennessee, and John Osborne of Vero Beach, Florida.

Recap courtesy of Julie Williams of Golfweek

Results: Golfweek Senior POY Classic
1FLMatthew AvrilVero Beach, FL70074-73-70=217
2SCRick CloningerRock Hill, SC40075-74-71=220
T3GADoug HanzelSavannah, GA30073-77-71=221
T3TXMike LohnerSouthlake, TX30072-76-73=221
T5OHMichael KelleyWesterville, OH30078-71-74=223

View full results for Golfweek Senior POY Classic

ABOUT THE Golfweek Senior POY Classic

Premier tournament featuring the world’s elite senior amateurs age 55 and up, in three separate divisions: Senior (age 55-64), Super Senior (age 65-69), Legends (age 70-74) and Super Legends (age 75+). Max handicap 8.0.

The tournament honors Golfweek's top three nationally ranked players in the Senior, Super Senior and Legends division. The "Yancey Ford Award" is also presented, honoring an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to amateur golf.

Formerly known as the Golfweek Senior National Championship.

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