BOCA RATON, Fla. John Lee of Naples, playing in his fourth seniors tournament since turning 50 in February, won for the first time against vet set competition Friday, capturing the 30th annual South Florida PGA Section Seniors Championship at St. Andrews Country Club.
The head professional at Imperial Country Club since 1993, Lee birdied four straight holes midway through the final round for 65-134 to win by two strokes. In scoring the low number of the tournament, he did not make a bogey the final round but had a marvelous par-save at the par-4 seventh hole to ignite his rally.
“I thought for sure the ball was headed for the lake after it hit a tree on the right side of the fairway,” Lee said. “But it pin-balled around up in the tree, then dropped straight down on the edge of the fairway. I had about 105 yards to the hole, hit it to five feet and made the par. That was huge.”
Lee followed with birdies at 8, 9, 10 and 11. He also birdied the second hole “to give me a good start,” he said, the fourth and 13th.
Lee earned $1,557 from the $13,250 purse.
Earlier this summer, he was second in the senior division of the South Florida Open, tied for sixth in the SFPGA Senior Open and tied for eighth in the Florida Senior Open. Those three were worth a combined $1,665.
Still, Lee says he has no plans to try to qualify for the Champions Tour later this year. “I like my job and I’ll probably stay there as long as they want me,” he said. “I’ve talked to fellows out there and they say even if you qualify and are exempt, it’s still so tough to get chances to play.”
Ken Martin, a teaching professional at Village Golf Club in Royal Palm Beach, eagled the par-5 18th hole to snag second here on 69-136.
Roger Kennedy Sr. of Stuart made 18 straight pars to win the 65-over age group by a shot with a pair of 72s for 144. Bryan Abbott of Jupiter was second with 74-71-145.
Lee also leads SFPGA qualifiers into the Senior PGA Professional National Championship Oct. 11-14 on two courses in Virginia. Others were Lee Rinker, Frank Dobbs, Jerry Tucker, Jim Karr, Gary Knapp, Gene Fieger, John Nelson and Michael Brooks. John Calabria will be the first alternate after losing on the third extra hole in a playoff at 142 with Knapp, Fieger, Nelson and Brooks. Exempt from qualifying were Martin, the runner-up last year, and former champions Pete Oakley, Mike San Filippo and Ed Sabo.
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