FORT WAYNE – With the way he’s been playing, Sam Till Jr. knows he has a chance to prove himself as one of the best in the nation.
And he doesn’t want to waste it.
I’ve got this window of time where I’ll 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. I’ve 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 he’s won three times.
But it’s really a precursor to the big event of the year: the United States Golf Association’s 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, it’s a good year for me, said Till, an insurance salesman. That’s always the No. 1 goal because it’s 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 Association’s 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 IGA’s 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 Association’s 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.
I’m real happy, Till said of this year’s 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 wasn’t what it was in my past, Till said. I ran across something, and I’ve started hitting it longer and that’s carried me a bit lately.
While Till said he’s ultra-competitive, it’s not something that’s 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. I’ve learned to channel it. I’m a better thinker and more cerebral now, and I’m 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 Wray’s victory at Autumn Ridge and Tom Wood’s last year at Brookwood.