Mark Tucker bested Eric Manning by two strokes to win the Central New York PGA Senior Section Championship at Bellevue Country Club. The two-day tournament July 25-26 for Section players 50 and over was presented by Cadillac.
Tucker (Cazenovia Country Club) achieved his goal of qualifying for the national Senior PGA Championship while picking up his fourth career Section Championship. He also won in 2015, 2016 and 2019.
“My big goal is to go to the national championship,” said Tucker, who shot back-to-back rounds of 72 to finish at 2-over-par 144.
By winning the CNY PGA Senior title, Tucker cashed $1,000 as well as a berth in the 33rd Senior PGA Professional Championship which will take place on October 21-24, at the PGA Golf Club (Wanamaker & Ryder Courses) in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Also qualifying for nationals were Manning (73-73–146), Kevin Roman and Michael Deuel. Roman (Life Member) and Deuel (En-Joie GC) tied for third at 147. Sean Dadey (Drumlins CC) and Alan Savage (Turning Stone) are alternates.
Tucker said he’s played just four rounds of golf in July including 18 at his home course last weekend which gave him a bit of confidence coming into the Senior Championship.
Although Tucker’s tournament started the final round with two bogeys on his first two holes, he didn’t get rattled. The 56-year-old Tucker and Manning played together in the second to last group with Jeff Reader.
“I said, ‘Oh boy here we go,’ ” Tucker said. “But you have to play one shot at a time. That’s what you have to do.”
Tucker and Manning were tied for the lead after 29 holes at 1-over-par. Tucker took the lead with a birdie putt on No. 12. He carded two birdies, two pars against three bogeys the rest of the way.
“I put myself in a position on the 12th hole where I said ‘No worse than bogey here.’ But I got lucky and got it up on the green and made the putt for birdie,” Tucker said.
Manning tried to stay close but couldn’t make any headway. Manning was 3-over for his final seven holes with three bogeys
Reader, the defending champion, finished ninth at 10-over 152. First-round leader and former champion Bruce Martins (Elm Tree) won the Super Senior Division with an 8-over 150. Martins won the crown in 2008 at Skaneateles CC.
Overall, Martins finished tied for sixth with Dennis Colligan (Cazenovia GC). Colligan was making his Senior Championship debut.
With the win, Tucker moved up to second place in the CNY PGA Senior Player of the Year point standings. Manning (926.67) is in first ahead of Tucker (897.50).