Royak cruises to Senior Amateur Hall of Fame title

·4 min read

Jun. 19—HIGH POINT — Bob Royak shot a mostly conservative 1-under-par 71 in the final round of the National Senior Amateur Hall of Fame tournament Friday. Starting the day with a four-shot lead and with no one applying serious pressure, it was more than enough for the reigning U.S, Senior Amateur champion to win the event in his first start.

Royak finished with a 209 total for his 54 holes over High Point Country Club's Willow Creek course and five shot victory over fellow Georgian and former winner Doug Hanzel, who carded a final-round 72.

"Tournaments are hard to win," Royak said. "Any time you win it's good. I play a lot of golf with all these guys and they are great players, champions. I play a lot of golf with Doug. He's maybe the best senior amateur in the country. So anytime I can come out on top of him, it's good.

"This feels really good, especially since it's my first time here. I look forward to coming back."

Royak's only scare came when he bogeyed the first two holes while playing partner Hanzel made two pars, narrowly missing a birdie putt on the second hole that would have gotten him within one.

Royak then got back on track, making birdies on 3 and 4 while Hanzel couldn't convert (the one on 3 an almost identical 15-footer) as the lead went back to four.

"I got off to a rough start," Royak said. "I smoothed it out a little bit, got it back to even, felt better and I was good the rest of the day.

"Those two birdies were really huge. I hit a really good shot on 3 (a par-3) and two good shots on 4 (a par-5) and made a nice, easy birdie and felt good after that."

It was a par-fest for them the rest of the way. Hanzel made bogey on 12. Royak, playing conservatively on most holes, sank a 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 16th for a 6-shot lead; and Hanzel made birdie on the par-5 17th.

Royak admitted that he played conservatively.

"To be honest, it was a change from my normal thing," Royak said. "I read some things and listened to a podcast where a guy tells you to play more conservative shots to greens. That was my mental process all week and it worked."

Just twice did he flirt with trouble. He escaped both times. Putting his tee shot in a bunker in front of the eighth green, he made a clutch putt for a sand save. On 14, he hit his second shot from a sidehill lie short and right of the green. He pitched on and made par.

Hanzel had a number of bride chances but, just as on holes 2 and 3, couldn't convert

"I hit the ball pretty good, made 16 pars, one bogey and one bride," Hanzel said. "I hit every green (in regulation). I just couldn't get the ball in the hole. That was my problem yesterday. I didn't score the ball well.

"Bob's such a good player. He's not going to make many mistakes. He struggled the first two holes, birdied the next two to get the ship righted, and I didn't put any pressure on him."

Steve Harwell, the 2019 champ, shot 69 for the day's best round and finished third at 216. Michael Mercier, who was among those in the foursome with Royak and Hanzel, shot 2-over 74 to finish in fourth at 3-over 219; and Sherrill Britt was another shot back at 4-over 220 after a 74.

James Pearson easily won in the 65-and-over Super Senior division. He shot a final-round 73 and finished at 2-under 214 for a five-shot victory over Randy Elliott.

Don Marsh picked up his third trophy in the 70-and-over Legends Class. He fired a final round 71 for a 2-over 218 and a seven-shot cushion over Ken Eichele. — 336-888-3519 — @HPEgreer

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