MASTERFUL AT THE SENIOR MASTERS
When it was all over at the SOS Senior Masters today at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in the California desert, and Jeff Burda (Seniors), David Rasley (Super Seniors) and the indomitable Claud Johnston (Grand Masters) had emerged triumphant, the big buzz continued to be the spectacular eight-under par 64 that Rasley shot in Round Two.
According to SOS Executive Secretary John Harrigan, Rasley’s round of 64 is the lowest competitive score ever posted in a SOS tournament.
And it was a scintillating 64, to say the least. Rasley had an eagle and nine birdies while playing the Celebrity Course at Indian Wells for the very first time. A retired technical officer for the CIA – "I "taught people how to use spy equipment," he says – Rasley never dreamed his day would go so well after his opening tee shot landed in a deep fairway divot some 180 yards from the green. "Oh, boy," I thought. "It’s going to be that kind of a day."
Well, Rasley nipped a knocked-down five iron, the ball rolled the six feet - and his birdie barrage was underway. After a par at his second hole – the 11th on the Celebrity – Rasley drove the green at the par-four 12th hole and dropped a six-foot putt for an eagle two. Three under after two. Two bogeys, two more birdies – and Rasley finished his first nine holes at three-under 33.
Then things got very interesting. Rasley had a tap-in birdie at the short second, but then inexplicably bogeyed the easy par-five 4th hole. "Now I was mad at myself," Rasley said. "And I was talking to myself." Obviously, whatever Rasley said to Rasley carried the right message.
He then finished with a grand flourish by making birdie at each of the final five holes. His birdie putts were from three, 15, 50, eight and three feet.
The bottom line for the back nine was a score of 31, or five-under par. And 33-31 makes 64.
Which gave Rasley a 10-shot lead over both John Richart of nearby La Quinta, California, and Ted Smith of Wilkinson, Indiana.
On Thursday, Rasley, twice a winner of both the Maryland Amateur and Mid-Amateur, "started like a guy who never had a 10-shot lead in his life." He double-bogeyed the opening hole and at one point Smith had trimmed Rasley’s lead to a mere three strokes. That was the ultimate margin of victory, too. Rasley’s final-round 79 gave him a 54-hole score of 214, while Smith finished second at 217 and Richards placed third at 220.
While the competition in the Senior division lacked the stunning dynamism that Rasley produced, the field was tightly packed to the end. Burda, who lives in Modesto, California, entered the final round tied for the lead with Chip Lutz of Reading, Pennsylvania, at one-under par 143. But Lutz ballooned to a five-over par 77 in the final round while Burda matched par of 72 and a two-stroke victory over Chris Maletis of Portland, Oregon.
In the Grand Masters it was a case of Same Old, Same Old as Claud Johnston of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the wily player who has dominated play in the Grand Masters for the past few seasons, overtook 36-hole leader Bob Hughett of Green Valley, Arizona, with a final round 79 for a three-round score of 238 – or four shots better than runner-up Hughett.
Once again the Senior Masters was played in perfect weather and playing conditions at the meticulously-groomed Indian Wells Golf Resort. The Callaway Tour van made an appearance the first two days, and more than a dozen SOS players were fitted for clubs at the Callaway Performance Center on-site at Indian Wells – and then collected their new equipment a few hours later. Callaway Golf President-and-CEO Chip Brewer played in the practice round and, playing the latest Callaway clubs, of course, fired an eagle and five birdies. Not quite up to what Rasley did two days later, but still very impressive.
Next up on the SOS rota: The John Kline Super Seniors Championship at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, South Carolina, from May 13th (practice round) thru the 16th. At this point there is a long waiting list for places in the field at Palmetto. The week after the Kline, the SOS will travel overseas for the first SOS International Senior Amateur at the famed Waterville Golf Links on the southwest tip of Ireland. More than 40 SOS members will be in the field at Waterville. We can still accommodate any members who would like to play at Waterville. If you are interested, please call Jim Popa or Matt Lefferts at SOS headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. The phone number there is 614-487-1207.