The Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain served as an outstanding venue for the second straight year, hosting the Senior Arizona Open on June 5th – 7th and the Arizona Open June 14th – 16th. The golf course provided a great test for both fields that teed it up for the three day events. The course was extremely well conditioned and the putting surfaces for both events tested the nerves of all competitors with green speeds “stimping” up to 13 during the course of the Arizona Open.
The field at the Arizona Open was one of the strongest in recent memory. Playing in the event this year were five past Champions (RW Eaks, Todd Demsey, Curt Byrum, Greg Bruckner and Braxton Marquez), 20 of the state’s best amateurs, a variety of local professionals and some new talented faces.
Senior Arizona Open
Day one of the Senior Arizona Open ended with only 10 professionals and 1 amateur who were able to navigate the golf course “under par”. The Low professional round of the day came from Ronnie Black who carded a 6 under 66 that included only one bogey. Only one shot back was long time competitive amateur Doug Pool from Las Vegas.
The second day of competition provided some excitement as there is always an interest at the top of the leaderboard as well for those in the “middle” of the pack trying to determine what score will make the cut for the final round on day 3. No professionals made a move from deep in the pack to rise to the top of the leaderboard but steady play from Paul Nolen (Arizona Open Past Champion) finished the day at 136 (67-69) to hold a one shot lead over Mike Franko (67-70=137), and a two shot lead over past champions Greg Bruckner (70-68=138) and RW Eakes (72-66=138). The only big move came from past Senior Open Champion, amateur Brady Exber, who put together a quality round of 67 to move to the top of the list for the amateurs.
The final day of competition proved exciting as Bob Niger of El Dorado Hills, CA found a way to pass seven players in the final round to reach the top spot with the low round of the day of 66. Bob’s round gave him the clubhouse lead at 10 under par 206 and eventually earned him the title, narrowly clipping both Mike Franko and Paul Nolen, who both birdied number 18 to finish one shot back at 9 under par 207.
Arizona Open – Youth Served
There was little separation after Day 1 as the low round for the day was a four under par 68 posted by Scott Adlund, Greg Avant and Ben Kern with twenty- one other players within 4 shots of the lead. One of those players was amateur Michael Wog II who carded an impressive two under par 70 – using a rental set of clubs, a borrowed putter and a brand new glove. Michael had made the one hour drive to the venue only to find that his clubs were not in the vehicle. Not having time to make a round trip to get his set, Michael calmly put together a borrowed set of clubs and fired a four birdie two bogey round. The field for the day averaged just under 77 and the course did not seem willing to give up any low scores.
Day 2 saw the field start to separate as two players seemed to figure out the playing conditions and posted rounds of 6 under par 66. The first was by long time Section Professional Brandon Smith of Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club. Brandon, who played collegiately at University of Arizona, had opened with a one under par round of 71 and was in the clubhouse after two days at 7 under par 137. Also posting a 66 was recent University of Notre Dame graduate Maxwell Scodro. Playing in only his second professional event this 2 Time Big East Player of the Year, who holds the school record at Notre Dame for low stroke average, put 8 birdies on his card in round 2. Adding his second round 66 to his opening round of 69 he found himself leading with a two day total of 9 under par 135.
Day 3 quickly became a two horse race as Brandon Smith had two birdies and a “hole out” eagle on the par 4 third hole to get to 11 under par through the first four holes. Scodro hit the first 15 greens in regulation and made an impressive up and down on 16 when he rolled in a 10 footer to save par. While Brandon’s 67 got him to 12 under par for the three days, his score was three shots short of Scodro’s effort. Scodro was able to post a 66 on Day 3 and he claimed the Arizona Open with a 15 under par total of 201. Posting the round of the week at Superstition Mountain was Jeff Yurkiewicz who carded 65 on the final day to tie for third with Jordan Krantz at 8 under par. Michael Wog II made good use of his own clubs during the final two rounds to finish as the low amateur with a three day total of two under par 214.