For the past month, Robert Samuels knows how Jeff Pope feels all the time.
Samuels, 59, won for the second time in his past three starts, taking the senior division of the Ping Gordon Lakes Invitational on Sunday. Pope, 48, won the regular division, as he normally does.
Samuels’ win came a month after he ended a nearly seven-year winless streak that had seen him finish second an excruciating 16 times by prevailing at Woodside.
“It feels good vs. all the runner-ups,” said Samuels, a Hephzibah resident who closed with even-par 72 to beat Frank Perry (75 on Sunday) by three shots.
Samuels said winning “is a lot better than hearing ‘what happened this time?’”
Winning is practically the norm for North Augusta’s Pope. His latest win extended his series record for victories in the Peak Amateur Series to 15.
Pope, the regular division player of the year the past two years, knows he is the player to beat whenever he tees it up in the series.
“I have been lately,” he said.
Samuels is beginning to fill that role in the senior division, where he has two wins and a fourth-place finish in his past three events. He credits the work he’s been doing on his swing with Goshen Plantation’s Spike Kelley for his improved play.
“He’s playing solid,” said Perry, who was paired with Samuels on Sunday and had handed him one of his toughest losses, in a playoff at Houndslake two years ago.
Pope, who was tied with Olegs Garner after the first round, had a final round 73 to beat Garner, who had 75 and is on the verge of breaking through with a win.
Pope is playing an abbreviated Peak Amateur Series schedule this year. He’s played in just two of the first six events – and won them both.
He made sure he came back to play at Gordon Lakes, and not just because he was the defending champion.
“I love this golf course,” Pope said. “I love these old style-type golf courses with no houses, no out of bounds. And it’s always in good shape. This has always been one of my favorite golf courses in town.”
Samuels and Pope also won their divisions at Woodside a month ago, finishing with the same winning score there (even-par 144) as they did at Gordon Lakes (1-under 143).
With Sunday’s win, Samuels moved into first place in the senior division in the Peak Amateur Series standings that determine player of the year honors at the end of the 10-event series in late August.
With 75 points for the victory, Samuels moved past Glen Hurt, who finshed sixth and earned 20 points.
Samuels now has 209 points to 191 for Billy Rangos, who moved into second place with a tie for third place (40 points).
“I’m always thinking about that,” Samuels said when asked about the possibility of winning player of the year honors for the first time.