MOUNT VERNON — Lynn Martin made Hiawatha Golf Course his playground over the weekend during the 2009 Ohio Public Golf Association’s Memorial Seniors Championship.
Martin won his fourth seniors title this decade with a dominating performance, shooting a 70 on Saturday and following it up with a 68 on Sunday. Defending champion Jeff Sparks finished runner up, carding a two-day total of 141. Martin, who competed in the 65- to 69-year-old division, also won the tournament in 2000, 2002 and 2006.
“I was happy with the 70,” said Martin. “Coming out (Sunday) the scores were close, so I really didn’t feel I had it in the bag. It was only a one-stroke lead and in golf, that’s really nothing. I tried to play steady, make pars and let the birdies come. I ended up swinging it pretty good today. I’ve played here a number of years and can get it on the greens. I just tried not to three putt.
“Jeff is a fine player, no doubt about it. He is a great competitor, a great putter. It is always fun to beat him. He is a good friend of mine, so it is always good to compete against good players.”
The key to Martin’s victory was his distance. He was striking the ball well, which he believes made the difference.
“I got this new driver and I really hit it well off the tee,” said Martin. “I’ve been having some trouble off the tee, and it really helps when you can get it in play. You can avoid a lot of bogeys when you can drive it in play.”
Rounding out the top five in the 91-man field were Earl Miller and Frank Tuscano with a 145 each, and Kent Russell and Jim Trent, who each fired a 146.
“I play about 20 to 25 events in the summer and I see a lot of these guys at other events,” Martin said. “There is good competition here.”
Several local golfers also competed in the event. Mount Vernon Middle School teacher Doug Savage was the top finisher, shooting a two-day total of 149. Savage shot a 75 on Saturday and followed it up with a 74 on Sunday.
“I did OK; I didn’t play fantastic,” said Savage. “I didn’t hit the ball like I would have liked to, but that’s getting more and more common. I’ve struggled since I had my rotator cuff surgery with my ball striking. It seemed better because I shot 75 and 74, but if you break down my rounds, it is really pretty interesting. ... I remember when I was cut up, I came and watched thinking I would maybe never play in another one. At least I’m back in here trying.”
Mike Crouch of Mount Vernon rebounded from an off day on Saturday with a 74 Sunday and shot a 152. Bob O’Hara, also of Mount Vernon, carded a 153 in his first Memorial Seniors Championship, and Mount Vernon’s Norm Woodward shot a 157.
“There is good competition in this tournament, starting off with Lynn,” said Savage. “He is almost always on the leader board if not winning it. In 2006, I got beat by him in a playoff. There are other good players too. You can tell by the scores.”
Playing wasn’t the only highlight of this year tournament or Savage. He was also selected as this year’s honoree, and was presented at a banquet on Saturday night. For Savage, who was previously selected for the OPGA Pennell Sportsmanship Award in 2002 and elected to the OPGA Hall of Fame in 2006, the distinction was a great tribute.
“I found out in the spring time,” said Savage. “The OPGA president met with its officers and directors during the winter and then I found out during baseball season. ... This is a big honor, which I humbly accepted. I’ve played in the (OPGA) tournaments since 1977 just about every year. I’ve been around the tournament a lot.
“This the ultimate honor, to be recognized by your peers. It makes it more special because they are showing their respect to what I’ve done and tried to do. I haven’t always been able to do it, but I tried. ... It has been a fun weekend.”