Cleland Captures Senior Championship
Ron Cleland fired a final round score of 74 to win the 39th Senior Amateur Championship at Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand. Richard Evenson shot a 76 in the final round to secure the Super Senior division by one stroke.
Ron Cleland, 60, posted a tournament total of 1-over par 217 for the victory. Cleland, of Naples, shot a 73 in the first round to trail the leaders by two strokes. In the second round, Cleland made four birdies on the front nine en route to a 2-under par 70 and the lead by four strokes. “I knew I just had to play well, you never know in this situation what could happen,” Cleland said about leading after two rounds. He then recorded a 74 in the final round to seal his first Senior Championship. “It is quite a high,” said Cleland. “I have never won a State Championship, it is a great feeling.” In the final round, Cleland came out and bogeyed holes one and four, then recovered nicely with three birdies. “I played very solid and didn’t make any big mistakes,” he said. “This course is very demanding so if you make a mistake you pay for it.” Cleland just went to The Masters and joked with his group that “he saw how to win.”
Edward Fletcher, of The Villages, placed second finishing five strokes back from Cleland with a 222. Fletcher, playing in his first Florida State Championship, recorded a 77-70-75. Shooting the low round of the tournament, Rick Woulfe, of Fort Lauderdale, jumped into third place with a 223 for the tournament. Woulfe, last year’s Senior Player-of-the-Year, made an eagle on the par 5 18th hole to post a 4-under par 68 in the final round. His first two rounds of 78-77 secured him third place. The 2004 Champion Bruce Scamehorn, of Winter Haven, finished tied for fourth place with first round co-leader Tim Miller, of Venice. Scamehorn and Miller each had a tournament total of 224.
In the Super Senior division, Richard Everson, from Estero, edged out the field by one stroke to secure the title. Evenson, 68, was one back from the leader going into the final round after posting scores of 77-73. Evenson’s final round score of 76 pushed him ahead to win the division with a 226 total. Bill Feehan, from Marco Island, and Jerry Jackson, of Sarasota, fell one stroke short to share second place honors with a 227 tournament total. Feehan recorded rounds of 79-75-73 while Jackson, coming off a Winter Series win at the Venetian, shot a 74-78-75. The 1995 Champion, Chuck Smith, from Naples, finished with a 228 tournament total.
Since the number of entries received has always surpassed the capacity of the Championship, a qualifying stage was instituted last year. While 73 players earned exempt status through a variety of different means, over 260 competitors attempted to qualify to complete the 156 player field. Qualifying took place at six sites across the state as competitors played 18 holes of stroke play hoping to advance to the Championship. Competitors play 54 holes of stroke play over the course of the three-day Championship. Participants must be 55 or older to participate in the Championship and enter one of the age divisions, 55-64 and 65 & over.
Victoria Hills Golf Club, in DeLand, is just 35 miles north of Orlando. Designed by Ron Garl, Victoria Hills is home to the Stetson University golf team and has hosted many FSGA and USGA events. The course was ranked in Golfweek’s “America’s Top 40 Best New Courses.”
Please see www.fsga.org for a complete list of pairings, tee-times and results.
Organized in 1913, the Florida State Golf Association is a not-for-profit organization that governs amateur golf in the state of Florida. In addition to conducting 22 championships for amateur golfers in the state, the FSGA is responsible for more than 40 qualifying tournaments for USGA National Championships. The FSGA also maintains the USGA Handicap System, performs course ratings throughout Florida and assists in junior programs and scholarships.