The start of a new decade did nothing to stop Bill Zylstra’s momentum as he captured the 15th Riverwood Senior Invitational Jan. 5 at Riverwood GC in Port Charlotte, Fla., finishing at 5-over 221 for a two-shot victory over Phil Pavoni.
It was Zylstra’s third win in his last four starts. The only back-to-back Golfweek Senior Player of the Year won the Senior Azalea last October and the Ralph Bogart Senior in December. Only a runner-up finish at the Golfweek Senior Tour Championship prior to the Bogart kept the Michigander from four in a row.
Bob Hullender, 72, also continued his dominance with another victory in the Super Senior division, finishing at 7-over 223 for a one-shot victory over Dan Tourtelot, a former Riverwood member. It was Hullender’s third Riverwood Super Senior title to go with two Riverwood Senior Championships, including the second staging of the event in 1997. Hullender, a former USGA Senior Amateur runner-up, had not played in a point event since the John Owens Super Sr. in mid-October.
The temperature was 41 degrees at the start of the final round and never broke 50. The northerly 15 mph breeze dropped the wind chill into the 30’s as Zylstra and Hullender navigated different routes to victory.
Zylstra was five shots up on Pavoni at the beginning of the final round; there was little movement on the leaderboard throughout the round and Zylstra later stood on the par-3 16th tee with his five-shot lead intact. Zylstra finished double bogey-par-bogey to Pavoni’s bogey-par-par to win by two shots.
Hullender took a one-shot lead into the final day and extended his lead to three shots through nine holes.
But Hullender made a triple-bogey on the par-3 16th and then a bogey on 17, cutting his lead to one as Tourtelot played the two holes double bogey-par.
“The wind was howling right-to-left on 16 and the only way to get it on the green was to start it over the marsh left,” he said. “I got mine in the air and it blew way over into the marsh right of the green.”
Not that it mattered, as Hullender stuck a five-iron on 18 to 4 feet for an easy two-putt and victory.