Winter 2019

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70 WINTER 2019 | NCGA.ORG T O U R N A M E N T C E N T R A L Sept. 11-12 | Castle Oaks GC Tony Lema WGC, 128-131—259 Sept. 19-21 | Poppy Hills GC R ooster Run Golf Club member and record five-time NCGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll proved that while he's now a Super Senior, he's still got it. The 66-year-old Sunnyvale resident shot a final-round 1-over 72 that included clutch birdies on the 16th and 18th holes to hold off newly-turned senior Robert Funk for his ninth career senior NCGA title, tying him with Gary Vanier and Jim McMurtrey for the most all-time. Knoll also joined Cornelius Bertolone and Kai Thomsen (three) and McMurtrey (five) as the only players to have won the event at least three times. Most importantly though, Knoll showed he can still win. While he captured the NCGA Super Senior Four-Ball crown earlier in the year with partner Kemp Richardson, his last victory as an individual had come at the 2017 Sonoma Valley Amateur. "This one is pretty big," said Knoll, who finished the championship with a three-day total of 1-over 214. "Earlier this year my game was mediocre. I wasn't playing much, and I wasn't playing well. So I didn't play much. But I get so much constant support from the guys, and that's so encouraging." Knowing how hard Poppy Hills can play, Knoll's strategy entering the championship was to try and just make pars. He executed it to perfection, carding 40 pars over his 54 holes. Buoying his chances were seven birdies, including three in the final round that offset two bogeys and a double-bogey. "I know how hard this course can be," Knoll said. "My focus was really good this week." Knoll, who began the final round holding a one-shot lead, fell a stroke behind Funk when he overshot the green on the par- 4, third. But Knoll kept hanging in there, eventually regaining his one-stroke lead with just four holes to play. On the par-4 16th, Knoll upped the cushion to two shots when he stiffed a 7-iron to within inches of the flagstick. A hole later on the 17th, Funk pulled his drive left into the trees, leading to a double-bogey. Despite making bogey, Knoll's lead grew to three. Funk, who made the cut at this year's U.S. Senior Open, eagled the closing par 5, but Knoll reached the green in two and made birdie to seal the victory. "Jim played great," said Funk, who lives in Canyon Lake. "It was neat to see." The championship had a somber tone due to the passing of fellow senior competitor and tournament regular Steve Wilson. In honor of Wilson, photos were placed on both the first and 10th tees. 57th NCGA Senior Championship PWGA Team Play Championship Curtain Calls: Closing the 2018 Season

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