Calkins wins first attempt at SCGA Senior Match Play title

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The 9th SCGA Senior Match Play Championship proved to be a trying match of survival with Craig Calkins of Manhattan Beach capturing the title with a 3 and 2 victory at Coto de Caza G&RC over opponent Jeff Burda.

This was Calkins’ first time competing in the SCGA Senior Match play tournament.

“I have always been out of town or had a conflicting engagement, in fact, I almost withdrew this year,” explained Calkins. “I just finished a member-guest tournament and I didn’t know if my back was going to hold up. I intended to withdraw but my request didn’t go through online and I ended up on the pairing sheet. When I saw my name I said ‘well, I guess I’m playing!’ It worked out well.”

This computer mishap ended up for the better, as Calkins’ back held up over an impressive five rounds in three days, leading to his second SCGA title in the past year, having won the Senior Tournament of Club Champions at Morgan Run Resort in December.

“Today was kind of a day of survival,” said Calkins. “It was a lot of fun, but the heat was brutal. We were each just taking it one shot at a time.”

After a cooler morning round in which Calkins defeated Jeffrey Thomas of Costa Mesa 2 and 1, the final match went out in the heat of the afternoon, making the last 16 holes of the 34-hole day an even greater challenge.

“I felt like I was barely holding up,” said Calkins. “I was just focusing on taking it easy, not over-swinging and really just concentrating on my next shot.”

Calkins single-shot method showed, as he outperformed opponent Burda on greens around the course and using an impressive lag putt to his advantage. Beginning on the second hole of the day, when Burda missed a short putt to give Calkins an early 1 up lead, the difference maker seemed to be putting, as Calkins knocked in the majority of the short ones, while Burda uncharacteristically let a few slip by.

But putting wasn’t the only memorable action of the round, as Calkins played an incredible 5th hole to widen his lead with a near eagle approach on the course’s shortest par-5.

But Calkins’ attributes his final approach shot on hole 16 as the one that secured him the victory.

“I knew I needed to get there,” said Calkins. “So I took a chance with my 9-iron aiming for the right side of the green.”

Calkins made the right move, leaving himself with an easy putt to clench the title and proving his worth among an elite field of senior golfers, including Burda who holds several distinguished titles, including three California Senior Amateur Championships and two SCGA Senior Amateur Championships.

Next year, the tenth playing of the SCGA Senior Match Play Championship will be held at Sandpiper GC, which also hosted the event from 2008-2012.

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