Dave DeLong now knows just how fast hanging on to win can go to winning with flare. It’s one shot, a simple pitch-and-run. DeLong who lost the Senior City title last year in a playoff to Brad Coole, sealed that championship Sunday by chipping in for birdie on the 18th hole and a four-shot win over Bryan Compton at McDonald Golf Course.
DeLong who has shot under par in all four rounds he’s played in the Senior City, was the only player under par for the tournament. He followed Saturday’s 1-under 69 at Fendrich, with a 1- under 71 Sunday at McDonald. Besides the overall medal title he also won the Francis Fleming (50-59) Flight.
Compton, who opened with a 67 to share the first round lead with Jim Atkins, finished alone in second at 144 after shooting a 77 Sunday. “I hit it this bad yesterday,” said Compton, “but think it finally caught up with me today. All those wild drives I hit had something to do with it.” Compton was followed by four players in a tie for third: Jim Atkins, Dave Bates, Tony Hill and Joe Hahn.
DeLong admitted he hadn’t thought about making the chip from just inches off the first cut on the 220-yard par 3 18th. “I was just trying to nurse it down by the hole,” said DeLong, who lead by two strokes entering the hole. “I knew I had a two shot lead and Bryan had a tough putt for par. I was just trying to make no less than bogey.” But the 40-foot chip was true. It landed just on the green and ran at the hole. It was dying at the cup when it made a little right turn to certain victory.
DeLong thinks his game translates well for the senior circuit. He said: “I’m not an overpowering player. I just don’t make many mistakes. I think I lull people to death.” Atkins had another view. “I think Dave just managed his game better than anyone else today,” he said. “It got away from me early. But then I had a couple of chances to get back in it and just never did.” Atkins bogeyed the first three holes Sunday and then had a chance with short birdie putts on Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13. But he played those four holes even par. Compton stayed around longer, but an errant drive on the par 5 14th resulted in a double bogey, while DeLong was making par.
“Everybody’s got their own style,” said DeLong, “but after Bryan’s misfortune I was just thinking fairways and greens.” Still, he needed a 20-foot putt for par on the 15th, before registering routine pars on 16 and 17. Compton stayed in the hunt with a 30-foot par putt on16 and then drove near the green on 17 with DeLong in the right rough. “I was down in a little hole in the rough and just had to chop it out,” said Compton. “I figured I needed birdie there.” Instead, both the front runners two-putted for par to set the stage for Delong’s dramatic clincher on the 18th. “I was just trying to control my emotions and not make a stupid mistake,” said DeLong. “When it’s two shots anything can still happen. It feels good to win.”
The Bob Hamilton (60-69) Flight was won by John Hamilton with a 145 after rounds of 70 and 75. Jerry Latham and Steve Pritchett tied at 151. Latham took second in a playoff. The Ed Wolf (70 and up) Flight was won by Don Partridge with a 156, which left him nine strokes better than runner-up Bob Gerst. The tournament, now in its second year, had a field of 96 players, down from a full field of 120 last year. But nobody, seemed to mind. Said Compton: “This is an awfully fun tournament for us old guys. I was just glad to be in it. Maybe next year.”