Jim McNelis of Gig Harbor, Wash. made a par on the seventh playoff hole to take the titleat the 31st Washington State Senior Men’s Amateur; while John Gallacher of Burnaby, B.C. completed an unlikely comeback to easily win the 10th Super Senior Men’s Amateur.
Both championships were contested over 54 holes of stroke play, and were held concurrently at Sunland Golf and Country Club in Sequim, Wash. They were conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA).
McNelis defeated Paul Houvener of Mill Creek, Wash. in the playoff. The players had finished tied for the lead at 1-over par after three rounds. Houvener had made a birdie on the par-3 15th in today’s final round to tie McNelis for the lead, which means the two players matched pars for nine consecutive holes before McNelis closed it out on the seventh extra hole.
McNelis had started the day in second place, three shots behind Brad Karns of Vancouver, Wash. In last year’s championship, McNelis finished second behind Karns, losing by a single shot.
“It was a good week, I played pretty steady,” said McNelis. “I made a lot of pars, a couple birdies here and there, had a few tough holes, but the golf course played awesome.”
As a long time competitor McNelis was thrilled to capture that elusive individual title, “I’ve been playing in PNGA/WSGA events now since 1988 and I finally got an individual title, so it’s really sweet.”
Defending champion Karns was making a strong bid to repeat as champion. He was the leader after both the first and second rounds, and even in today’s final round had held a one-shot lead going into the back nine, but he went six-over par during a three-hole stretch, including a back-breaking triple-bogey on the par-4 11th. This opened the door for Houvener and McNelis. Karns finished in third place, two shots out of the playoff.
In the Super Senior, Gallacher nearly shot himself out of the competition by opening with a 7-over 79 in the first round, and stood a full seven shots back of first-round leader Tom Kubisa of Bremerton, Wash.
But Gallacher rallied in the second round, shooting 3-under 69 to vault into the lead, and capped it with a 2-under 70 in today’s final round. He shot the only two rounds under par of the entire Super Senior field, and coasted to a nine-shot margin over second-place finisher Gudmund Lindbjerg of Port Moody, B.C.
“Yeah, that first round was pretty bad,” Gallacher said. “Couldn’t hit the ball very straight or make a putt on these silky greens. But the last two days were good. Gudmund and I play a lot of golf together, so it’s always good fun when we compete closely like this. He’s gotten the best of me in this championship before, so it’s nice to get ahead of him this year.”
In last year’s championship, Gallacher had finished second to Lindbjerg, who had also won this title in 2014. Last week, Gallacher and Lindbjerg paired together to win the PNGA Men’s Super Senior Team title.
Earlier this summer, Gallacher won the PNGA Super Senior Men’s title.
One of the highlights of this year’s championships is Charles Draper Jr. playing in the Super Senior Amateur, and having his father Charles Sr. caddying for him. Charles Sr. is a former executive director of the WSGA, and the perpetual trophy of the WSGA Senior Men’s Amateur is named after him.
Founded in 1922, the WSGA is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving over 68,000 individual members at more than 550 member golf clubs and 270 golf courses throughout the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, the WSGA works to continually expand the game of golf to people of all backgrounds.
The WSGA also serves as a statewide representative of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and works closely with a number of allied associations within the golf industry for the betterment of the game.