NCGA Senior Championship
April 8-9, 2010
Spyglass Hill GC
April 9, 2010
For NCGA senior champion Jeff Burda, the tournament was nearly over after the first shot.
But 145 shots after his errant opening drive clipped a tree leading to a bogey, the most dominant senior player in the region had secured a four-shot win, adding to NCGA Senior titles earned in 2008 and the last two State Senior championships.
“If you get upset by one shot on this course you’re going to have a long day,” the Del Rio member said. Indeed Burda’s opening-round one-under 71, where he only needed 26 putts, was the only score in red numbers for the event at notoriously difficult Spyglass Hill. Less than 25% of all scores posted for both rounds had a 7 as their first digit.
Burda closed with a three-over 75, leaving him four shots clear of runner-up Kemp Richardson of Laguna Nigel, a member of Spyglass Hill as well as one of the Southern California Golf Association’s finest senior players. Richardson won the 2001 USGA Senior Amateur and has been the low amateur at multiple U.S. Senior Opens.
Burda had no three-putt greens for the event and punctuated the win with a 45-foot bomb for birdie on the final hole. “I didn’t strike the ball very well but I was very pleased with how I finished,” the champion said. Burda’s final round had three bogeys and a double versus two back-nine birdies.
The Modesto resident had 12 wins in a fantastic opening year as a senior in 2008, winning the NCGA Senior Player of the Year award. Back trouble created issues for the 57-year-old at the beginning of 2009, and though still not 100%, a regimen of yoga and physical therapy restored his swing allowing him to close the year on a roll, capturing his second consecutive State Senior title at Poppy Hills. He is seeking the Senior Points’ title again this year as well as an improved finish in the U.S. Senior Amateur.
Third place was shared by David Ujihara of Atascadero and Don Thames of Rancho Murieta, who finished five back of the champion.
Defending champion Gary Vanier of The Olympic Club posted rounds of 79-84 for a 163 total and was never able to create momentum.
Though there wasn’t the traditional super senior division, for players aged 65 and older, since a separate championship will be held later in the year (November 8-9 at Merced GCC), 70-year-old Michael Davis of Serrano CC led that age group, firing a 77-75-152 that placed fourth overall.