50th Annual NCGA Senior Championship
April 4-5, 2011
Spyglass Hill GC
April 5, 2011
PEBBLE BEACH – Just when the NCGA Senior Championship looked like another rendition of the “Jeff Burda Show,” Jim Knoll stole the spotlight with a come-from-behind, two-shot victory.
Knoll carded a final-round two-over 74 to join his three-over first-round 75 for a 149 total on a blustery day at Spyglass Hill. That 74 was matched by runner-up Ron Johnson as the low scores of the second round after Burda set the standard with an opening-round, one-under 71.
“His game has elevated my game,” the champion said in reference to his four-ball partner and defending champion Burda. “I like competing against him. It drives me to be better. Jeff has raised the bar for everyone.” Indeed, prior to the final round, Burda had been on a roll, capturing the NCGA Senior last year, his third straight California State Senior and made a run to the semifinals of the U.S. Senior at Orlando’ Lake Nona GC. But Knoll has proven a worthy challenger, having captured the NCGA Valley Senior and the San Francisco City in the past few years and making the cut at the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits in 2007.
A double-bogey on the par-3 12th derailed the Rooster Run member briefly, but ultimately jolted his swing back into alignment, as he closed with seven solid pars for the two-shot win. “We all struggled on that hole. But from then on, I didn’t miss a shot. It’s a hard golf course,” he said. Knoll started the final round with birdies on the third and fourth holes, but quickly gave those strokes back. “I prepared a little differently this year. This is my fourth NCGA Senior; my first one I played well but Jeff smoked us (at Saddle Creek in 2008),” the champion explained. “I played poorly here at Spyglass the last two years, but this year I decided to stay in town. I also played an event last weekend. Maybe it helped my overall karma.”
Last year’s NCGA Senior Four-Ball champion Ron Johnson (with Peter Moren) was joined at 151 by Burda and Michael Brannan of the Bridges GC, with Johnson earning runner-up honors via a card-off. The Diablo member posted a two-under 34 to come from deep in the pack starting the final round to the runner-up position.
Knoll next attempts to capture his third straight Alameda Commuters senior title in two weeks.