The 46th playing of the Senior Amateur Championship yielded a deserving and emotional winner. After 54 holes of besting 83 other fierce competitors, John Adams of San Clemente clutched his trophy with his head down, visibly choked up and said, “I guess this is why they say your first one is the best one.”
Adams shot even par in Wednesday’s final round at Ironwood CC to finish six-under for the championship. In doing so, he cleared the field by three shots. But this was no runaway. Four-time Senior Amateur winner, Craig Davis, playing in the penultimate group, made a ferocious charge on his front-nine, shooting a 32 highlighted by a string of birdies that came on four consecutive holes. Before the turn, Davis had run down Adams and kept it locked up all the way through No. 14.
Adams had fired a tournament-best 67 the day before in his second round to go up four shots on Davis, but that lead had evaporated. Adams said he never once checked the scoreboard and had no idea Davis had completely closed the gap.
Davis would stall out, however, and give back three shots coming in to finish T-2 at three-under. When Adams teed it up on No. 18, he was four shots ahead of any pursuer and could have made a triple bogey and still won the championship. A wayward approach shot from the middle of the fairway was hardly the disaster needed to make it interesting and Adams was able escape with minor blemish that didn’t come close to hurting him. A two-putt bogey sealed the deal.
Despite shooting 67 on Tuesday, Adams said he was prouder of Wednesday’s round of 72. “I didn’t sleep well going into the final day. I’ve never slept on the lead before. This was brand new to me. To be able to come back and take care of that situation was big.”
For Adams, this was a long time coming after a decadelong break from competitive play.
“I stopped playing competitively 10 years ago because I don’t hit it far enough to hang with the younger guys. But I started getting back into it and I started practicing and playing again. All this hard work has finally paid off. We have a lot of great players here in Southern California. When you beat them, you should pat yourself on the back.”