Fort Wayne’s best senior golfers will tee it up Monday in the Senior City Championship.
There will be 74 players – the typical field for the event that has taken place since 1992 – and winning will mean overcoming two difficult obstacles.
The first is one of Fort Wayne’s finest courses, Orchard Ridge Country Club, and the second is some of the most talented players in the state during a two-day, stroke play event.
The Ridge offers a great test, said Mike Riecke, president of the Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne. It’s in great shape. We’re excited to be back there and be playing it again this year. I think it’s going to be a great shootout. It will be an exciting competition.
The favorites for the tournament this year are clear.
They are John Wray, who is the defending champion, Sam Till Jr. and Steve Vernasco.
Wray has won the Senior City three times – in 2002, 2010 and 2012 – and only one other man can boast that.
That’s Till, who has also won three times, in 2003, 2005 and 2009, to go with his four victories in the Fort Wayne Golf Association’s City Tournament.
Wray, he’s won this at Orchard Ridge twice, Riecke said. He’s comfortable on the golf course, and you have to consider him one of the favorites.
Till, however, is one of the best senior players in the entire nation.
Just last month, he won the Indiana Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Championship, shooting a two-day total of 5-under 139 and defeating Dyer’s Terry Werner in a playoff at Anderson Country Club.
He has played in several national tournaments, including the United States Golf Association’s Senior Amateur, for which Wray also qualified last year. Till won the U.S. Senior Challenge in Birmingham, Ala., in 2012, and his list of accolades is long.
You can absolutely never count out Sam Till, Riecke said. He is probably the fiercest competitor I’ve been around in Fort Wayne, and he’s won (this tournament) three times also. I think he’s going to be a handful.
As for Vernasco, he won the FWGA’s City Tournament in 1989, 1999 and 2002, and he’s always a good bet to be in contention.
He’s not won the Senior yet but has proven he can beat everyone in town, Riecke said.
The champion of 2011, Tom Wood, should also be a factor. So will Mark Childs, Mike Roberts and Mike Carpenter.
Other former champions in the field include Skip Lesh and two-time champion Jon Fuller.
The tournament begins at 11 a.m. and tee times run through noon.