DEER GROVE – Jim “Spark” Larkin claimed he had been struggling on the golf course recently, but that was hard to tell this weekend at the Senior Men’s Rock River Classic golf tournament.
Larkin carded a 1-under-par total of 143 and a best-against-bogey score of +37 to lead Shady Oaks to the team title in the event that wrapped up Sunday at Deer Valley Golf Club. He earned medalist honors by four shots over Emerald Hill’s Rod Anderson and Sandburr Run’s Jerry Janssen.
Larkin seized control of the tournament by carding a 4-under-par 68 in Saturday’s first round at Lake Erie. That round included six birdies and two bogeys. He tacked on three more birdies on his way to a 3-over-par 75 on Sunday.
“I’ve been hacking,” Larkin said. “I mean, I couldn’t break 80. This weekend I shot 1-under-par – that isn’t right. I don’t get it. I haven’t shot 4-under for 18 holes in years. Being old, that just blows my mind that I’ve still got it.”
Rounding out the Shady Oaks lineup were Dave Kemp (+32), John Klausen (+22), Greg Ohlendorf (+16), Steve Jacobs (+14), Mark Summers (+13), Jeff Lovgren (+12), and Bob Smith (even).
Kemp won the First Flight in a three-hole playoff against Janssen and Prophet Hills’ Leo Heaton. Each player bogeyed the par-4 first hole and parred the par-3 second hole before Kemp rolled in a short birdie putt on the third extra hole. Janssen and Heaton each parred.
Jacobs won the Seventh Flight.
Shady Oaks finished with a best-against-bogey score of +152, while Deer Valley and Sandburr Run tied for second at +140.
“Everybody ended up in the plus, and that was our ultimate goal,” Klausen said.
After the first round, Shady Oaks was in first place at +87, six more than Deer Valley. The home team was unable to mount a charge, however, and settled for a tie for second place with Sandburr Run. The Thomson course had the second round’s best score, a +70.
Deer Valley was led by Jeff Woodside (+27), Tommy Houzenga (+26), John Wenk (+23), Mike Batten (+21) and Marty Bollman (+20). Houzenga and Batten won the Fourth and Fifth Flights, respectively.
Sunset Golf Course placed fourth as a team with a +126 total. Leading the way for the Mount Morris club were Pat Marshall (+23), Buzz Severns (+20) and Cary Bennett (+20).
Emerald Hill, which won last year’s event at Sunset, was fifth as a team with a +120 total. Leading the way for the Sterling course was Anderson, who had a +33 score and chased Larkin until a double bogey on the second-to-last hole sealed his fate. He won the Best-Against-Bogey award.
“I hit the driver really good all weekend,” Anderson said. “There’s no complaints about my game. I just needed to make a few more putts, but there’s no shame in
losing to Spark.”
Don Mekeel finished with a +20 score for Emerald Hill, while Jim Franson (+19) and Jerry Bianchi (+14) won the Eighth and Sixth Flights, respectively.
Prophet Hills was sixth as a team at +119. Heaton (+32) and Tim Smith (+23) paced the Prophetstown course.
Lake Erie was seventh among eight teams at +114. Don Kuhnen (+31), Dave Kirk (+20) and Rex Young (+20) led the Erie course.
The third and final Rock River Classic for 2019 will be held on Saturday and Sunday when the ladies tee it up. Both rounds will be played at Sunset in Mount Morris.