LA QUINTA, Calif. – Ron Carter and Ted Smith have had plenty of opportunity to compete against each other back home in Indiana. With only 126 miles separating the two, they have played in and won more state tournaments than either can remember.
When the last putt dropped on the Stadium course at the Golfweek Senior Amateur, both Carter and Smith found themselves in a familiar position: at the top of their respective divisions’ leaderboards.
Senior Ron Carter, who played three days of near flawless golf in perfect southern California conditions, strung together rounds of 68-68-72 for an 8 under-par 208 total.
His closest rival in the senior division was Dave Pocknall, of Katy, Texas, who finished alone in second, 11 strokes behind Carter.
When asked after his final round why he hadn’t shot another 68, Carter jokingly said, “I didn’t have to! I could see what the guys in front of me were doing and I didn’t have to play as aggressive as the first two days.”
Carter, who entered the final round with an eight-shot lead over last year’s champion, Doug Pool of Las Vegas, Nev., shot an even par-36 on the front nine of the difficult Stadium course to pull away from the field.
“I knew I had a big lead going into the final round so I just wanted to play conservative and make the field try to catch me,” Carter said.
“I had three straight makeable birdie putts on the first three holes, and wound up making par on each. I knew if I kept just making pars they would have to make a bunch of birdies to catch me, and that’s hard to do on this course.”
Carter, who has been bothered for the last few months by plantar fasciitis said he was starting to feel much better after receiving a cortisone shot in his foot. “It was really difficult for a while,” Carter said. When I’d transfer my weight I never knew how bad the pain was going to be.”
If shooting a pair of 68s followed by a 72 – on two very difficult courses at PGA West is any indication – he’s probably starting to feel just fine
Super senior, Ted Smith, who won thirteen times in 2013, is back in the swing after heart surgery in January.
“I went in for a routine physical and they found a bad mitral valve,” Smith said. “I really thought I was OK and just getting a little more tired than normal. But, after the surgery I can’t believe how much better I feel.”
Smith’s victory in the super senior division came after being tied with newcomer Mack Clapp of Missoula, Mont., heading into the final round.
Clapp, a member of the USGA’s Mid-Amateur Committee, posted a final-round 73 for a 219 total, while Smith’s three-birdie, three-bogey 72 gave him a 218 total and the trophy.
Smith’s victory at the Golfweek Senior Amateur, coupled with his win at the Senior Masters, puts him back at the top of the Golfweek Super-Senior Rankings.
In the Legends division, Robert Fouke of Broken Arrow, Okla., posted a three-round total of 225 to capture a one-shot victory over Fred Rowland of Leawood, Kan.