Sunday, September 25, 2011


LA QUINTA, Calif., Sept. 24 – Six national champions were crowned Wednesday when 444 players from throughout North America converged upon Coachella Valley in Southern California for the 2011 Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Championships.

Clifford Conover (Roosevelt, Utah) became the first Golf Channel Am Tour competitor in the tournament’s history to record three consecutive national championship victories. Conover also joins Ken Larney (2007, 2009, 2010) as the only three-time national champions of the Tour.

The 72-hole tournament was contested at four La Quinta-area golf courses and headlined by famed PGA West. Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Championships players represented 40 U.S. States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Three holes-in-one were recorded during the Senior National Championships, including a double-eagle on the seventh hole at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West by Hogan Flight competitor Denny Carlson (Beavercreek, Ohio). Carlson accomplished the feat by using a hybrid from 211 yards.

Senior National Championship Winners

Snead Flight (20+ handicap)
Joseph Burns of Marathon, Fla., carded a final round 87 at La Quinta Resort Mountain Course to stave off Joe Strong of Wildomar, Calif., by two strokes. Burns, 55, saved the best for last when he turned in the low round of the tournament, featuring a par on the 18th hole to seal the victory. The two ran away from the field, with third place finisher Richard Naef of Waldo, Wis., finishing 11 shots behind.

Jones Flight (16.0-19.9)
Mark Millard (Simi Valley, Calif.) shook off a triple bogey on the 15th hole at the La Quinta Resort Mountain Course to bring home a one-shot victory over John Tyczki (Ramona, Calif.). Millard carded a four-day total of 353, including a final-round 91.

The two competitors from California traded blows on the top of the leaderboard all week. But it was Millard’s opening round 85 that gave him just enough cushion to claim the national championship.
The national crown is the second win of the year for Millard on the Golf Channel Am Tour. He won at San Diego-area Maderas Golf Club in the Poway Amateur Championship in August.

Sarazen Flight (12.0-15.9)
Shortly after his one-shot victory in the Sarazen Flight at the PGA West Nicklaus Course, Dave Verhulst (Ballwin, Mo.) hoisted his Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship trophy, surrounded by fellow competitors from his local St. Louis tour, and chugged a celebratory brew from the crystal.

“It’s the pinnacle,” said Verhulst. “I can’t imagine anything better.”
Verhulst held a five-stroke lead heading into the final round, but playing partner Darrell Wilson (Georgetown, Texas) put the pressure on with a final round 82. Even with a double bogey on the 18th hole, he held on for his one-stroke victory to close with an 86.

"You can count as you go along and know where you stand," he said. "I ignored the score and just lucked out that I ended up one shot ahead."

Hogan Flight (8.0-11.9)
Jeff Couch (Haymarket, Va.) carded his second consecutive 79 at the Stadium Course at PGA West during the final round to run away with the Hogan Flight championship by six strokes over Gregory MacGraw (Mira Loma, Calif.).

Palmer Flight (4-7.9)
Clifford Conover of Roosevelt, Utah, won the national championship in the Palmer Flight for the third year in a row, shooting a final round 79 on the Greg Norman Course at PGA West, becoming the first three-peat national champion in the Tour's history. However, it wasn’t easy. Not only was Conover playing in the largest division with 125 players, he also carded a double bogey on the 18th hole en route to his 79. He held on to his cushion by one stroke over Dan Steinman (Chicago, Ill.), who turned in a final-round 81.

"I thought I wouldn’t be so nervy," admitted Conover. "On the back nine, the nerves kicked in and I missed a few short putts. But overall I kept it together.

"It’s great competition," said Conover. "You're playing against people from all over the U.S. You meet friends from all over. I can go golfing now in Texas. I can call someone up (I met at nationals) and I've got a match."

Championship Flight (<3.9)
Larry Krogness (Sonora, Calif.) turned in a final round 78 at PGA West’s Greg Norman Course to hold off K.C. Fox (Sarasota, Fla.) by two strokes. Krogness, 62, fired a 7-over-par 295 for the four-day event.
The national championship was Krogness's second win in a row on the Am Tour. He won the Empire Ranch Championship in July back in California.

”Sleeping last night was not comfortable,” said Krogness. “I just managed to hang on and play well enough to win. “It’s a tough golf course and is grueling playing four days out here.”

The open division of the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships kicked off today in La Quinta, with 574 players from throughout North America and Puerto Rico competing in the 72-hole tournament. Headlining the open division national championships field are three sports celebrities – former St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics pitcher Mark Mulder; four-time World Series championship pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and three-time Olympic figure skater Todd Eldredge.

As the largest amateur golf tour in North America with more than 5,000 members, the Golf Channel Am Tour is open to the public and provides the most professional tournament experience for players of all ages and abilities, as well as offering unparalleled access to some of the most renowned and challenging golf courses across the country. Broken up into 60 local chapters throughout North America, the Golf Channel Am Tour conducted more than 800 local championships and 25 two-day “Major” Championships throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico in 2011. For more information about the Golf Channel Am Tour and the national championships, visit

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