JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Walter Hope of Gainesville outlasted Ken Walters of Kennesaw in a thrilling final match to capture the inaugural Georgia Senior Match Play Championship, 2 and 1, which took place at The Standard Club, May 8-11. Hope, the 9-seed, won four matches in two days of gusting winds over three opponents who had a higher seed.
To start the final match, Hope and Walters were all-square through the first three holes, before Walters bogeyed the fourth to give Hope a 1-up advantage. The match would eventually get back to all-square as the two competitors made the turn. Just as the match began, the first three holes (10, 11, and 12) on the backside were even, before Walters birdied the 13th to take a 1-up lead. Hope regained the lead by winning two of the next three holes and brought a 1-up advantage to the 17th hole. Hope’s drive on the 192-yard, par 3 came within inches of rolling in for an ace, and the tap-in birdie was all that was needed for Hope to clinch the victory, 2 and 1, over Walters.
“It feels terrific and really means a lot,” Hope said after accepting the trophy of the inaugural championship. “This is a terrific club and the course was just in magnificent shape. The other competitors were great, the staff and volunteers were great. The course was just in very nice shape.”
Hope’s run through the field began with him finishing tied for eighth at 2-over-par 146 (72-74) in the 36-hole qualifier on days one and two, giving him the 9-seed in match play. He then advanced to the final match by defeating Mark Benefield of Peachtree Corners, 4 and 2, in his opening round match, followed by a win over Don Marsh of Johns Creek, 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals. In Hope’s semifinal match at The Standard Club, he defeated reigning Georgia Super Senior champion Dick Van Leuvan of Roswell, 2 and 1.
Walter started his week off by shooting 3-over-par 147 (76-71) and finished 10th in the qualifying rounds, good for the 10-seed. His road to the finals began with a victory over Alan Thielemann of Woodstock, 3 and 1, in the round of 16, and then Gary Unell of Atlanta, 1 up, in the quarterfinals. In his semifinal match, Walters topped Ken Benson of Alpharetta, 20 holes, to advance to the finals.
At the conclusion of the 36-hole stroke play qualifying to determine seeds for match play, the low 16 players advanced. Those players who advanced to match play, in order of their seeds, were as follows: Don Marsh of Johns Creek (top-seed); Mel Mendenhall of Marietta (2-seed); Eddie Register of Sugar Hill (3-seed); Rocky Costa of Alpharetta (4-seed); Van Leuvan (5-seed); Lee Dennis of Comer (6-seed); Thielemann (7-seed); Benefield (8-seed); Hope (9-seed); and Walters (10-seed).
Entries were open to male amateur golfers age 55 or older as of May 8. The format of the inaugural Georgia Senior Match Play Championship was match play preceded by 36-hole stroke play qualifying. The low 16 players advanced to match play.