At age 49, Evans' Phil Nunnery has a new lease on his golf life this year in the Regions Bank Amateur Series.
Nunnery, who is entered in the season-opening Sunbelt Nissan Golf Capital Invitational at Mount Vintage this weekend, sees this year as his best chance for a victory in the 10-tournament series.
He can thank Golf Capital tournament director Richard Felder for that opportunity.
In hopes of increasing participation, Felder added two age groups to this year's tournament. In addition to the region division (through 34) and the senior division (50-over), there are now Mid-Amateur (35-49) and Super Senior (65-over) divisions.
The regular and mid-amateur divisions will play the same tees, so a Mid-Am could still win the overall title. The same goes with two senior divisions, which will play shorter tees than the regular divisions.
"I think it's good; it kind of gives us guys about to be seniors something of a break," Nunnery said of the Mid-Amateur division. "We don't have to compete against the younger guys so much. It gives me a little bit of a break where I don't have to shoot even par every time I tee it up."
Nunnery, whose best finish in the Regions series is a third-place at Savannah Lakes, is taking his opportunity seriously. He turned 49 on Friday so he'll be in the senior division next year.
"This is my year," Nunnery said. "I've been working out and running. This the best shape I've been in with a new season coming up. I do expect to be competitive in that division. That's definitely the goal. I'm looking forward to it. I'm putting in all I can to be there on Sunday."
He could be, if his putter starts cooperating.
"I'm hitting the ball good but not scoring the way I want to because I'm not making the putts," he said. "I'm giving myself numerous opportunities to make the putts, but they're not dropping. I'm hoping it all comes together this weekend."
Felder came up the idea of the Super Senior division in hopes of bringing back the seniors who used to play in the series but can't compete with fiftysomethings. He challenged those who have complained that they can't compete to come back as a Super Senior.
"They didn't," Felder said. "I'm disappointed, but I'm not ready to give up on it, either."
He only drew eight Super Seniors, most of them between 68 and 73, he said.
He is going to keep an eye on some other Regions events that are considering beginning the Super Senior qualification at age 60, not 65.
It would make sense since the Regions doesn't follow the U.S. Golf Association definition of a senior, which it considers to be a 55-year-old.
"People have asked if our seniors start at 50, why don't the Super Seniors begin at 60?" Felder said.