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Keith Decker Wins the VSGA Senior Stroke Play Championship

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DANVILLE –– Martinsville’s Keith Decker survived a turbulent front nine stretch, shot a final-round 74 and posted a two-stroke victory as the 28th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Stroke Play Championship concluded today at Danville Golf Club.  

The 53-year-old Decker opened with a championship-best 3-under 67 on Tuesday—a large determiner in the event’s outcome—and finished the championship at 1-over-par 141. Decker picked up his first VSGA Senior Stroke Play title and second in the senior category, having won the 2010 Senior Open of Virginia.

Northern Virginians Pat Tallent, 59, of Vienna (final-round 71) and John Long, 60, of Centreville (last-day 74) finished two strokes back at 3-over-par 143. Billy Jahn, 55, of Virginia Beach (closing score of 76) completed play four off the pace (5-over 145). The two competitors at 6-over 146 delivered the two low scores of the day and recorded the only scores in red numbers in the final round—Jack Allara II, 58, of Salem carded 2-under 68, 10 strokes lower than his first day score, while Dave Pulk, 56, of Williamsburg logged 1-under 69.

Decker dropped back into a share of the lead with Jahn at even par after a disastrous close to his outward half. He played the final three holes in four over par, including making a triple-bogey seven at the par-4 seventh after his second shot from through the green on the left ricocheted off a tree and found a water hazard. Then he closed his outward half with a bogey. 

KeithDeckerIinsiderBut Decker would steady himself enough to claim the title, accounting for three pars to start the second nine. Despite bogeys at Nos. 13 and 16, he sandwiched in a birdie at the par-5 15th where he hit the green in two, returning him to even par for the championship at the time. Decker saved par by getting up and down from 100 yards at the par-4 17th, converting on a 12-footer to help secure the title. Danville’s demanding greens were a factor in no competitor finishing with a 36-hole aggregate of even par or better.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was good enough,” said Decker, who took home the Corbette King Trophy, honoring the past VSGA president (1975-76). “I made a lot of pars down the stretch. Anytime you win a VSGA championship, it’s a big honor.”

Tallent played bogey-free on the second nine to match the low score on the inward half of 2-under 33. Jahn, with whom Decker was tied to start the back nine, played Nos. 10-14 in five over par to drop out of contention.

The top-ranked amateur in the commonwealth in the regular division entering the championship, Decker collected his third victory in a VSGA points’ event this season. Decker says much of his good play in the early season can be attributed to improved health. This spring, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and began taking medication for it in April.

“I’m playing better and I feel better than I did last year at this time,” said Decker, the winner of 19 ‘major’ VSGA titles and consistently the top-ranked amateur in the commonwealth since 2001. “I’m not as tired as I was toward the end of rounds like I was a year ago. I’ll give this win to the doctor.”

Among the super seniors (ages 65 and over), Alexandria’s Bill Engel, 66, made par on the first extra playoff hole to outlast Stan Fischer, 72, of Richmond. Both competitors completed the championship at 5-over 145. Engel posted 2-over 72, the second-low round of the day in the division, while Fischer, the first round leader, closed with 75.

On the first extra hole, the par-4 first, Engel hit his tee shot left, but his second shot found the putting surface safely, settling 35 feet from the hole. Fischer’s approach found the front right greenside bunker and he blasted to 25 feet; his par attempt hit the hole, but had too much pace to drop in. Engel two-putted from his position to take home his second straight title in the super senior division, having won last year at central Virginia’s Salisbury Country Club.

DANVILLE ––Results following the final round of the 28th VSGA Senior Stroke Play Championship at Danville Golf Club (6,229 yards, par 35-35—70 for seniors, 5,850 yards for super seniors, par 35-35—70) on Wednesday, June 12.

Regular Senior Division (Ages 50-54)
Keith Decker (Martinsville), 67-74—141
Allen Barber (Yorktown), 72-75—147
Ralph Knapp (Virginia Beach), 76-72—148
Michael Hays (Virginia Beach), 75-75—150
Paul Labor Jr. (Leesburg), 75-75—150
Greg Marbold (Richmond), 75-76—151
Steve Castro (Chantilly), 76-75—151
Doug Henson (Roanoke), 78-74—152
Mike Krulich (Blacksburg), 73-79—152
Scott Werthman (Forest), 76-76—152
James Gallagher (Yorktown), 74-79—153
Marc Hogan (Woodberry Forest), 80-76—156
Brian Fitzwilliam (Virginia Beach), 79-78—157
Mike McLister (Leesburg), 77-81—158
Al Bello III (Stafford), 80-79—159
Bruce Townsend (Richmond), 84-76—160
Frank Leyes (Boones Mill), 77-84—161
Daniel Suthers (Wytheville ), 80-86—166

Regular Senior Division (Ages 55-59)
Pat Tallent (Vienna), 72-71—143
Billy Jahn (Virginia Beach), 69-76—145
Dave Pulk (Williamsburg), 77-69—146
Jack Allara II (Salem), 78-68—146
Tim Vigotsky (Centreville), 72-74—146
David Brogan (Lexington), 74-74—148
Jeff Flax (Virginia Beach), 74-74—148
Skip Zobel (Virginia Beach), 75-73—148
George Kapetanakis (McLean), 71-78—149
Van Renick (Roanoke), 77-72—149
Mark Rallas (Leesburg), 75-75—150
Mark Funderburke (Roanoke), 77-75—152
Tim Kelley (Ashland), 77-75—152
Jeff Bostic (Glen Allen), 75-79—154
Jeff Fleishman (Williamsburg), 77-77—154
Mark Boedicker (Great Falls), 75-79—154
Steve Thomas (Alexandria), 76-79—155
Jim Woodson (Powhatan), 78-78—156
Joe Coates (Midlothian), 81-75—156
Joe Johnson (Falls Church), 78-78—156
John Turyn III (Richlands), 78-78—156
Kurt Swenson (Lexington), 82-74—156
Leon Roday (Henrico), 76-80—156
Pokey Buchanan (Bealeton), 78-80—158
Dave Corbin (Virginia Beach), 83-76—159
Mark Alonzi (Richmond), 77-83—160
Bill Curley (Moseley), 84-80—164
Doug Banks (Ashburn), 85-79—164
Michael Fielder (Roanoke), 83-81—164
Darrell Carlisle (McLean), 79-86—165
Robert Tidgewell (Leesburg), 84-81—165
Jonathan Hauser (Virginia Beach), 83-84—167
J.W. Entsminger (Lexington), 81-WD

Regular Senior Division (ages 60 and over)
John Long (Centreville), 69-74—143
Tom Grady (Marshall), 75-72—147
Lynn Wessman (Arlington), 75-73—148
Rick Bendall (Lynchburg), 77-71—148
John Franklin (Danville), 74-76—150
Dayton Slater (Winchester), 78-73—151
Chips Wooddy (Troutville), 74-79—153
John Hoffman (Fairfax), 79-74—153
Jack Tuttle (Roanoke), 76-78—154
Bill Nunnenkamp (Blue Ridge), 76-79—155
Mike McDonald (Williamsburg), 78-78—156
Chris Harvey (Charlottesville), 82-79—161
Don Kelly (Alexandria), 83-78—161
Bert Wilson (Mechanicsville), 83-83—166
David Smith (Woodberry Forest), 86-83—169
Marshall Fleming (Suffolk), 88-81—169
Cal Coolidge (Lake Frederick), 84-88—172
William Miller (Alexandria), 87-88—175
Jay Hehn (Hampton), 86-92—178
Ken Roko (Springfield), 87-91—178
Handy Moore (Clarksville), 92-91—183

Super Senior Division (ages 65-69)
* – Bill Engel (Alexandria), 73-72—145
Doug Kendrick (Danville), 76-72—148
Dale Moore (Salem), 76-74—150
Jim Hudson (Midlothian), 74-76—150
Harry Lea (Danville), 74-77—151
Terry Towler (Dillwyn), 72-80—152
William Proffitt (Roanoke), 81-71—152
Roger Pitkin (Springfield), 78-77—155
Jon Abbett (McLean), 79-77—156
Don Jeanes (Fairfax), 82-76—158
Marvin Taylor (Roanoke), 78-80—158
George Owens (Virginia Beach), 81-78—159
Jim Malone (Charlottesville), 79-80—159
Tony Aguiar (Glen Allen), 79-81—160
John Casstevens (Glen Allen), 82-81—163
Jim Sell (Southern Pines), 77-87—164
Steve Golis (Alexandria), 85-81—166

Super Senior Division (ages 70-74)
Stan Fischer (Richmond), 70-75—145
Walt Martin (Oakton), 71-77—148
Wright Garrett (Danville), 75-74—149
Richard Suggs (Palmyra), 78-76—154
Donald Robertson (Earlysville), 76-79—155
Crady Adams (Vinton), 89-88—177
Dave Norwood (Clarksvile), 98-WD

Super Senior Division (ages 75 and over)
Ned Baber (Roanoke), 77-82—159
Bob Moyers (New Market), 77-87—164
Wilton Burgess (Lynchburg), 82-82—164
Ken Newlin (Nokesville), 85-83—168

* – denotes won the super senior division with a par on the first extra hole, the par-4 first