FORT WAYNE – With the way hes been playing, Sam Till Jr. knows he has a chance to prove himself as one of the best in the nation.
And he doesnt want to waste it.
Ive got this window of time where Ill be competitive at the senior level, or maybe even a little bit better than the senior level, said Till, 59, of Fort Wayne.
But that window is closing. Ive decided to take it to the end, as far as my competitive life is.
Till will play Monday and Tuesday in the Senior City Golf Championship, an event run by the Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne that hes won three times.
But its really a precursor to the big event of the year: the United States Golf Associations Senior Amateur, which begins Sept. 29 at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J.
Any time I get to the USGA Senior Amateur, its a good year for me, said Till, an insurance salesman. Thats always the No. 1 goal because its our national championship.
Till has had a terrific year.
In May, he finished 16th at the Indiana Senior Open in South Bend, shooting 8-over 150 over two days, and he took eighth at the Indiana Golf Associations Tournament of Champions with an even-par 142 over two days in Noblesville.
In July, he won the U.S. Senior Challenge in Birmingham, Ala., with a three-day total of even-par 216. And he won the IGAs Senior Match Play Championship with a 2-and-1 victory over Ron Carter in the finals at West Lafayette.
In August, he placed third in the Fort Wayne Golf Associations City Tournament at Pine Valley Country Club with a 2-under 211 over three days.
And he also was the low qualifier from Indiana for the Senior Amateur, shooting an even-par 72 at Elcona Country Club in Bristol. John Wray of Fort Wayne also qualified for the event with a 73. They will be among 156 players who get 36 holes of stroke play to try and qualify for match play. Till, who has made it to match play in his previous three times in the tournament, advanced to the final 16 in 2009.
Im real happy, Till said of this years accomplishments.
But they took hard work. Till had seen a decline in his ball-striking ability that he had to work out this summer.
In the last few months, I had started to lose some of my length and my ball striking wasnt what it was in my past, Till said. I ran across something, and Ive started hitting it longer and thats carried me a bit lately.
While Till said hes ultra-competitive, its not something thats clearly visible on the course, where he seems even keel.
I had a lot of success and that Type A personality of mine used to come out, he said, and I had quick movements and hyperactivity. Ive learned to channel it. Im a better thinker and more cerebral now, and Im a better course manager than I ever was before.
The Senior City, which will be at Orchard Ridge Country Club, has taken place since 1992. Till last won it 2009 – it was at Orchard Ridge that year – followed by Wrays victory at Autumn Ridge and Tom Woods last year at Brookwood.