For the third straight day a different name found the top of the 21st Annual CGA Senior Amateur Championship leaderboard at Del Rio GCC. But unlike the previous two days, Wednesday was the day where it mattered most. In the end, Casey Boyns came back from four shots down to win the title and be crowned the top senior amateur in California.
Boyns was buoyed by an exceptional back nine, which included four birdies, none bigger than the one on the 18th hole. Going into the hole tied for the lead at four-over par with fellow-competitors SCGA Senior Amateur Champion David Delich and SCGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Knoll, the three squared off in what felt more like a match play showdown.
Knoll hit his drive in the right rough, while Boyns and Delich both hit their drives on the short par-4 18th within five yards of each other down the left side of the fairway, leaving themselves with shots of less than 100 yards. Knoll was the first to play his approach shot, hitting his ball into the bunker left of the green. Boyns was next and hit his ball 20 feet above the hole, while Delich went last leaving his approach short just off the front of the green about 18 feet away. After Knoll hit his ball within a foot of the cup for a tap-in par, Boyns was next to play and had an unbelievably quick downhill putt with several inches of break. The 56-year-old played it perfectly though as it remained on line until it found the bottom of the cup. A few moments later, Delich slid his uphill putt by, giving Boyns the win.
“I had a great read,” said Boyns. “It was fun to watch it go down that hill and keep turning and turning into the hole.”
Only three holes earlier, Boyns was hoping just to get into a playoff as Delich held a two-shot lead. However, back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 by Delich allowed both Boyns and Knoll to recapture a share of the lead going into the final hole.
“When I got two or three strokes back, I thought, here we go again, close but no cigar,” said Boyns.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve won something. I really wanted to win this.”
Boyns three-over par 219 total was good enough for first place, while Delich and Knoll finished tied for second with a score of 220, four-over par. Alone in fourth place was 36-hole leader Jeff Burda at 221, while Gerry Simoni and Michael Turner at 222 tied for fifth place.
Burda, who had a one-stroke lead going into the day, struggled on the front-nine to a 39, but still maintained a lead at the turn. However, what did him in was a double-bogey-6 on the 12th hole, hitting his approach shot in the water after having a perfect lie from the middle of the fairway.
Going into the day, it looked like history was going to be made by three-time winner Burda, who was on course for an unprecedented fourth title. Instead, another bit of history was made as Boyns became only the second player, along with Gary Vanier, to win both the CGA Amateur and Senior Amateur in a career.
“This was a bucket list thing,” said Boyns. “To be on the same page as him is an honor.”