Mike McCoy Wins 2018 Trans-Miss Senior & Mid-Master Championship
CAREFREE, Ariz. – Mike McCoy survived a four-man, four-hole playoff Thursday afternoon to win the Senior Division of the 2018 Trans-Miss Senior & Mid-Master Championship at venerable Desert Forest Golf Club. It was the fourth Trans-Miss Golf Association title for the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion from Norwalk, Iowa.
McCoy, Bryan Norton from Mission Hills, Kan., Brady Exber from Las Vegas and Jeff New from Scottsdale all finished the 54-hole, stroke-play championship with matching scores of 3-over-par 219. Exber made the biggest move in the final round with an even-par 72. McCoy had to ease in a slippery 5-footer for par on the 54th hole to get into the playoff.
New was eliminated with a bogey on the first hole. Exber was next to fall when he failed to finish the third extra hole. It came down to McCoy and Norton, who coincidentally are both Trans-Miss Directors. On the fourth playoff hole – the 420-yard, par-4 13th – Norton pushed his drive out to the right. His ball landed in a tree and was stuck there. After taking an unplayable lie penalty and drop, he advanced his ball up to the green.
McCoy ultimately two-putted from 20-feet to earn the victory.
“This one is pretty special,” said McCoy, who won the Trans-Miss Championship in 2000 and 2008, as well as the 2012 Four-Ball Championship with fellow Iowan Gene Elliott. “I’ve been having a lot of problems with my golf game over the last year. I’ve been battling through some demons. So it was nice to hit some good shots coming down the stretch and in the playoff. It means a lot to me.”
Norton, Exber and New shared second place. Joe Palmer from West Des Moines, Iowa, took fifth place at 6-over 222.
In the inaugural edition of the Mid-Master Division for golfers ages 40 and older, local resident Chris Kamin from Phoenix scored a seven-shot victory despite what he considered a lackluster effort in his final round. A few tee balls lost into the desert led to five bogeys and a double. He did sink three birdies to limit the damage and posted a 4-over 76. He finished at 4-over 220 for the championship.
Mark Mance from Whitefish, Mont., used a final round 75 to move up the leaderboard and take second place at 11-over 227. Brad Wayment from Mesa, Ariz., and Robert Funk from Canyon Lake, Calif., tied for third place with 14-over 230.
“I kept it in pay most of the time here during the week,” said Kamin, who was playing in his first Trans-Miss event. “Today I started out well. I ended up hitting four or five in the desert, and my score kind of showed that.”
An Arizonian for more than 20 years, Kamin said Desert Forest is his favorite course to play in the area. He was appreciative of the Trans-Miss bringing an elite amateur championship to the revered venue. Winning on a course he loves was a bonus.
“It feels great,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s a little club event or a something big like this, wins are always fun.”
In the Super Senior Division (65+), Jim Knoll from Sunnyvale, Calif., defeated fellow Californian Jeff Burda from La Quinta in another four-hole playoff. Both veteran amateurs finished 54 holes at 8-over 224. Knoll won with a 4-foot par putt after Burda missed his downhill, 5-footer on the fourth extra hole.
“I was very fortunate to win,” said Knoll, a three-time U.S. Senior Open participant who made the cut at the 2007 U.S. Senior Open. “It means a lot to me. The field is always really good here, and the tournaments are always very well run on a national level. It’s very rewarding.”
Gary Hardin from Carlsbad, Calif., finished third in the Super Senior Division. Corky Nelson from Dallas took was fourth, and Dave Sheff from Dana Point, Calif., came in fifth place.
In the Legends Division (70+), Desert Forest member Dick Baker scored an eight-shot victory over Sam Boyd from Horseshoe Bay, Texas. Baker, who splits time between Carefree, Ariz., and St. Could, Wis., shot a final round 77 to post the winning score of 13-over 229.
“It feels great,” he said. “This is my last round at Desert Forest before we head back to head back to Wisconsin on Saturday. This is a great way to finish the spring season here.”
David Rasley from Payson, Ariz., finished in third place. Dallas native Jim Martin, who was attempting to win his fourth consecutive Legends Division title, took fourth place. Fifth place belonged to another Desert Forest member, Philip Svanoe from Carefree, Ariz.
Baker and Svanoe’s club provided a wonderful, if not taxing, championship test for the talented field of amateurs. Desert Forest is a Southwest masterpiece in every sense. Arizona Golf Hall of Famer Robert “Red” Lawrence – who in the early 1920s helped restore iconic East Coast gems such as Merion and Westchester Country Club – designed Desert Forest in 1962. He took special care to accentuate the contours of the Sonoran Desert by shaping the course’s routing based on what already existed.
Built for only $250,000, Lawrence eschewed bulldozers in the construction of the brilliant par-72 track. Instead, he planted seeds on the desert floor tee-to-green to create the country’s first desert golf course. Widely loved by natives and tourists alike, Desert Forest proudly sports the moniker of the “True Desert Original.”
Despite the lack of water hazards, fairway bunkers and forced carries, Desert Forest packs plenty of bite. Most anything hit offline from the tee box ends up in the unplayable desert, which flanks every hole on the 165-acre property. The large, bentgrass greens boast wicked slopes and hard-to-see movement, making the conventional two-putt par anything but routine.
As with every Trans-Miss Championship, this year’s Senior & Mid-Master attracted a full field of some of the best amateurs in the country. Desert Forest tested every single one of them for all three days of competition. The scoring average across all three days in the Mid-Master Division was 79.6. In the Senior Division, the average score was 80.2. The Super Senior and Legends Division scoring averages, respectively, were 81.2 and 84.0.
The Trans-Miss Golf Association would like to express its sincere gratitude to Desert Forest Golf Club, its members and staff, as well as our volunteers, for all their hard work during the weeks leading up to and during the championship. The 2018 Trans-Miss Senior & Mid-Master Championship was a truly memorable week, and it couldn’t have happened without the coordinated efforts of everyone involved.
For more information on this year’s championship, including complete scoring, click here.