There is no doubt about the resiliency of Bill Zylstra, the 2008 national senior amateur champion who is trying to become the first back-to-back winner in the history of the U.S. senior amateur rankings.
After four Florida tournaments that open the annual schedule, known as the Florida Swing, Zylstra is once again in front. But it wasn’t easy.
In the third of the four events, the Kingsway Senior Invitational, Zylstra opened 67-67 at the stout Kingsway Country Club in Lake Suzy (all four tourneys are played on Florida’s west coast).
In the third and final round at Kingsway, Zylstra came undone on the back nine, shooting 44 and losing the title to former USGA Senior Amateur champion Mike Bell of Indianapolis, Ind.
No matter, because Zylstra bounced back immediately to beat Bell and win the next event, the Adams Senior Championship at Emerald Greens Golf & Country Club in Tampa.
Zylstra shot a closing 72 in cold and windy conditions to claim the victory. Tying for second, two strokes back, were Bell, Mike Jackson of Collingswood, Ontario, and Bob Howe of Larchmont, N.Y.
“If you’ve played as much golf as I have,” said Zylstra, from Plymouth, Mich., “you accept your good rounds and your bad rounds. Kingsway wasn’t very good, but that’s past history.”
Firmly rooted in the present tense, Zylstra is 7.5 points ahead of Gary Strickfaden of Pinehurst, N.C., after the Florida Swing. Strickfaden won two of the first three events, but skipped the fourth.
It is interesting that three golfers in the top 10 are from Indiana. Joining Bell are Ted Smith of Wilkinson, Ind., and Ron Carter of Monticello, Ind.
The senior division includes amateurs who are at least 55. When the competitors reach 65, they are eligible for the super senior division.
Bob Hullender of San Antonio, Texas, and Rich Anderson of Bloomington, Minn., are 1-2 in the current super senior standings. This was predictable, because Hullender and Anderson tied for the top spot at the conclusion of the 2008 schedule.
The annual tournament calendar features more than 40 events that have both senior and super senior divisions.
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James Achenbach is a Golfweek senior writer. To reach him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Golfweek/Titleist Senior Amateur Rankings
TOP 10 SENIORS (55 and over)
1. Bill Zylstra, Plymouth, Mich. 1,915.0 2. Gary Strickfaden, Pinehurst, N.C. 1,907.5 3. Mike Bell, Indianapolis, Ind. 1,696.0 4. Paul Schlacter, Bridgeville, Pa. 1,268.0 5. Ted Smith, Wilkinson, Ind. 1,115.0 6. John McCreary, Lehigh, Fla. 1,085.0 7. Fred Silver, Lewiston, N.Y. 867.5 8. Bob Howe, Larchmont, N.Y. 786.3 9. Ron Carter, Monticello, Ind. 770.0 10. Jim Rollefson, Franklin, Wisc. 650.0
TOP 10 SUPER SENIORS (65 and over)
1. Bob Hullender, San Antonio, Texas 1,905.0 2. Richard Anderson, Bloomington, Minn. 1,900.0 3. Ray Darmstadt, Yonkers, N.Y. 1,415.0 4. Walt Martin, Oakton, Va. 1,130.0 5. Russ Berkoben, Perrysburg, Ohio 1,092.5 6. Jeff Belfore, Naples, Fla. 1,085.0 7. Don Wood, Louisville, Ky. 1,020.0 8. Skip Juris, Dublin, Ohio 997.5 9. Curtis Wagner, Peachtree City, Ga. 980.0 10. Mills Rendell, Winnetka, Ill. 857.5