KEARNEY ICES PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Society of Seniors Championship visited the historic Wigwam Resort in Phoenix, AZ, playing the newly redesigned Gold Course and the soon to be redesigned Heritage Course. The Dale Morey Championship was held on the Gold and the Johnny Owens and Grand Masters Championships were held on the Heritage.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1929, The Wigwam officially opened its doors as a guest ranch with rooms for 24 guests. The first nine-hole golf course was built in 1930, expanding to 18 holes in 1941. Today, the resort features three championship golf courses-including the Robert Trent Jones Sr.- designed Gold and Patriot Courses.
Houston native Bob Kearney was all smiles at the awards ceremony following the final round of the 2015 SOS Championships. His third start with the Society at the Vinny in October ended with a disappointing 2nd after faltering on the final stretch. But this week had a better outcome.
Kearney started the year with a victory at the Old Corkscrew Senior, followed with a first place finish at the Kingsway Senior Invitational. Kearney became a member of the Society of Seniors this past February. In four events, the tall Texan has finished ninth at the SOS Senior Masters, fifth at the Hesler and runner-up at the Vinny. His three shot victory in the Dale Morey was a fitting finish and good for SOS Senior Player of the Year honor.
Bright Arizona sunshine but chilly conditions found Gary Robinson, Fayetteville, NC posting an opening two-under par 70, good for a one shot lead over Kearney, two shots over non-member Keith Smith, Franklin, WI and three shots over Seattle’s Larry Daniels.
In the second round, warmer temperatures accompanied the brilliant sunshine as Keith Smith, playing with a purpose of gaining enough points for membership, returned his own one-under par 71 good for 143 total and sole possession of the lead. Robinson followed with a second round 74 (144). Kearney remained consistent, carding a one-over 73 (144) to join Robinson at second place. Perennial favorite Dr. Doug Hanzel of Savannah was alone in fourth after a second round even par 72 (144).
The best weather was saved the final round as Smith, Robinson, Kearney and Hanzel made up the penultimate group. But the day belonged to the steady Kearney who was able to coast around in even par 72 (216). Smith’s four-over 76 (219) was good for runner-up.
In the Johnny Owens division, Nashville’s Mike Nixon erased a four shot deficit in the final round to capture the title. Trailing Steve Dallas, Mesa, AZ (144), Jim Wetzel, Edmond, OK (146), Gary Hardin, Ft. Worth (146) and Bob Lutz, Meridian, ID (147), Nixon blistered the Heritage with a bogey free two-under par 70. Nixon’s 218 total nipped Dallas by a shot, and Wetzel by two.
In the Grand Masters Division, Harry Cain, a brand new Quail Ridge CC full time resident posted scores of 74-76-73. His 223 total was two better than Bob Hullender, San Antonio (74-77-74—225) and five better than Robert Callan, San Francisco (78-77-73—228).