They weren’t the kind of scores Olegs Garner and Robert Samuels wanted to shoot at Jones Creek Golf Club on Sunday to finish off the Peak Amateur Series season, but they were more than good enough to earn them player of the year honors.
Garner held on to win the season-concluding E-Z-GO Jones Creek Classic, and wrapped up the regular division player of the year title.
After opening with 3-under-par 69 on Saturday to lead by seven shots, Garner needed almost all of those shots after closing with 78. Hunter Dunagan, with 72, finished second, one shot back after making birdie on the final hole to Garner’s bogey.
In the senior division, Samuels added 76 to his opening 79 and finished in a tie for fifth place, eight shots behind first-time winner Jim Seagle (73-74), who beat Kenny Larry (75-74) and Glen Hurt (72-77) by two shots.
“My timing was a little bit off,” Samuels said. “On this golf course, you’ve got to be on top of your game.”
For the 10-tournament series, where players earn points for top 20 finishes, Samuels ended up with 359 points while Hurt, the 2012 player of the year, had 323.
Garner ended up with 357 points, thanks to two victories and four runner-up finishes. David Hogan, who finished third at Jones Creek, was second in the points race with 319.
“That’s exciting and pretty awesome,” Garner said of being the top player.
It helped temper a final-round showing which he called “terrible, very, very disappointing.
For Samuels, who lost the player of the year title to Larry in 2011 at Jones Creek in a sudden-death playoff, his first player of the year honor was a long time coming.
At age 59, he is the oldest player of the year since the senior division started in the series in 1995.
“Through the years I’ve been playing pretty good, pretty consistent, but it didn’t seem like I could get over the hump,” Samuels said.
Samuels had 16 runner-up finishes in previous seven years before winning three times this season.
“It’s all coming together,” Samuels said. “I’m more confident. I feel good about what I’m doing.”
“Robert has been a great competitor,” Larry said. “The fact he was able to do it the age of 59 is even more awesome. A lot of the doggone hard work he put in has really paid off.”
The same could be said for Seagle, who trailed by a shot after the opening round.
Seagle fell way behind on Sunday after playing in his first eight holes in five-over fashion. He rallied with birdies on Nos. 9, 10, 13, 14 and 16 (and a bogey on 17) to overtake Hurt and Larry.
“I just wanted to make the Georgia team (for the upcoming Peak Amateur Series matches),” said Seagle, who finished in the top-seven in all six of his starts this year and locked up a spot on the six-player Georgia senior team with the win. “To come out and actually win a tournament, it didn’t go through my mind.”
That probably helped him shake off his poor start, which included five bogeys in the first eight holes.
“I just enjoy playing golf,” said Seagle, a 52-year-old Augustan. “Just having fun – that’s the main thing.”