INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Gene Elliott added another piece of shiny hardware to his trophy case Thursday when he cruised to a four-shot Trans-Mississippi Senior Championship victory at picturesque Eldorado Country Club.
Holding a five-shot lead headed into the final round, Elliott shot a businessman-like even-par 71 to get the job done. The 1998 Porter Cup champion and two-time Iowa State Amateur winner mastered Eldorado’s firm and severely sloped Bermuda TiffDwarf greens with only one three-putt in 54 holes. Paced by a second round 66, Elliott finished the championship at 4-under-par 209. It’s his second Trans-Miss Golf Association title; in 2012 he won the Four-Ball with fellow Iowan and Trans-Miss Director Mike McCoy.
Mark Miller from Antioch won the Super Senior Division (ages 65 and older). Steady play and incremental scoring improvements helped him take a one-shot victory over two Texans. Fort Worth’s Jody Vasquez and Gary Kirwan of McKinney tied for second place. Miller shot rounds of 76-74-73 to post 10-over 223. In the Legends Division, Jim Martin of Dallas withstood a six-hole playoff to secure his third consecutive title. He and Michael Mahoney from La Jolla, Calif., tied at 8-over 221 before Martin sank a four-foot birdie on the sixth extra hole.
(For complete results, click here.)
Elliott, winner of the prestigious Crump Cup in 2009 and Coleman Invitational in 2007 and ’09, gave much of the credit for his victory at Eldorado to his wife Dalena. With inclement weather plaguing Des Moines prior to the Trans-Miss Senior, Elliott hadn’t played much golf. He managed to get out once, though. A late Saturday afternoon nine-hole loop with Dalena made all the difference, he said.
“I kind of figured out some things that round,” he said. “I changed my ball position and alignment. I think it helped a lot.”
The amount of good vibes radiating for Elliott at Eldorado didn’t hurt, either. For starters, the club’s Director of Golf Terry Beardsley has known Elliott for 30 years. Beardsley knew him from his days as the head pro at Wakonda Club in Des Moines. When Glen Oaks Country Club opened across town in 1992, Beardsley became the head pro there. That’s Elliott home club to this day.
“First of all, Gene is the nicest guy,” said Beardsley, who has worked at Eldorado since 1997. “He’s a class act. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years. But, yes, I was rooting for him.”
Elliott also is good friends with Eldorado member Chris Maletis, a five-time Trans-Miss winner and ab Association Director. Elliott stayed with Maletis in his home on the back nine of the Tom Fazio-designed course.
Finally, Elliott takes putting lessons from Chris Foley, a North Dakota-based instructor who spends one week a month in Palm Springs to teach Eldorado members. Did all of that karmic energy provide Elliott an advantage over the field at the Trans-Miss Senior?
No way, he said.
“There are not a lot of advantages in golf,” he said. “You have to go out there and play.”
Along with Miller and Martin, Elliott did it the best this week. Miller said the key to his victory was his attitude and lag-putting. He made six birdies in the final round.
“I try to tell myself to keep playing no matter what,” he said. “Truly, I’m shocked my score was good enough to win. I got lucky.”
Martin indicated the same after he outdueled Mahoney in the Legends Division six-hole playoff.
“It was one of those things where we both kept it in play off the tee,” Martin said. “I hit some greens, and he kept getting up and down. He’s a very good player, and I was just fortunate to hang in there.”
Mahoney started the final round three shots behind Martin, the 36-hole leader. Mahoney’s 2-over 73 forced extra holes after Martin shot a final round 5-over 76. Both competitors finished in regulation at 8-over 221.
Martin, ever the gentleman, refused to gloat after securing his much-wanted third straight Trans-Miss Senior title in the Legends Division. He only offered, “Yes, it does,” when asked if felt good.
The Trans-Miss staff extends its most sincere gratitude to the Eldorado Country Club staff and members for their generosity and hospitality throughout the championship week. Special thanks to Director of Golf Terry Beardsley and his hard-working golf staff; Superintendent Craig Ellis, Assistant Superintendents Cesar Montez and Jose Verduzco and the entire grounds crew, who kept the golf course in immaculate shape; and Director of Events Brooke Hardy Stuessy for all her efforts.
All the competitors and the entire Trans-Miss Golf Association thoroughly enjoyed their time at this historic club. Home to 34th President Dwight Eisenhower and host of the 1957 Ryder Cup, Eldorado made for a truly outstanding host venue for the 2017 Trans-Miss Senior Amateur Championship.
About the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association
The Trans-Mississippi Golf Association is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf organizations in the United States. Established in 1901, the Trans-Mississippi is composed of over 200 member clubs located throughout the country. The Association is governed by a board of independent directors and is headquartered in Dallas, TX.
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