Dave Dumas has changed the narrative of his competitive golf game.
He posted an even-par 71 on Monday at Orchard Ridge Country Club to secure a second straight victory at the Senior City Championship.
Not bad for a guy who, coming into last year, had played in over 20 years of events put on by the Fort Wayne Golf Association or Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne and not emerged victorious.
So what changed?
“I guess I’ve just gotten older and played little bit more golf,” said Dumas, who finished the 36-hole tournament at even par, five strokes ahead of runner-up Brian Gottwald. “I’ve worked at my game a little bit.”
Dumas is the fourth person to successfully defend a title at the Senior City, an event that has been played since 1992. The others were Jim Reecer in 1993 and 1994, Jon Fuller in 2000 and 2002, and Sam Till Jr. in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s awesome. It’s really cool,” said Dumas, 52. “It was a grind out there today. It was hard fought. I felt like I was playing good before I kind of stumbled in, but I knew I had a little bit of a cushion.”
The Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne announced late Monday it was naming the tournament’s trophy after Till, a six-time champion, and it will henceforth be known as the Sam Till Jr. Cup.
“It was very unexpected,” said Till, who didn’t compete this year. “(Association President Mike Riecke) called me a couple days ago and told me he wanted to do that. It was unexpected and very humbling, and it was very nice of the Senior Golf Association to do that.”
Till has also won the City Championship five times. And he’s the only person to win both the City and Senior City in the same year, 2015. He decided after finishing fifth at this year’s City Championship – he was 1 over through three days but nine strokes back of champion Patrick Allgeier – that it would be his last.
But he hasn’t ruled out playing in the Senior City again.
“I would say the chances are better than not that I would play again,” Till said.
Till, in a way, helped shape the story of how Dumas became a two-time Senior City champion. Dumas came into the final round in 2017, when it was also at Orchard Ridge, tied for the lead with Matt Schmidt. But Till overtook them for the title.
It was just another letdown for Dumas, but not one that has since been repeated at the Senior City. He shot back-to-back 3-under 69s to win in 2018 at Coyote Creek Golf Club, finishing six strokes better than the rest of the field.
He ran away with it again Monday, when he had four birdies and a 1-under 35 on the front nine, making his double-bogey on No. 17, where he hit his tee shot into the water, and his bogey on No. 18 inconsequential.
“On the par-5s today, I hit some squirrelly shots and managed to eke out some pars,” said Dumas, who works in commercial real estate for BND Commercial. “And I played the par-3s really well until the last one.”
Dumas hadn’t been playing well leading up to the tournament, shooting anywhere from 78 to 85. But the member of Pine Valley Country Club may have found he’s now a better player when it matters most.
“I hope,” he said. “That’s the goal, to be tournament tough, I guess. ... Stay at it and you get the deal done.”
Gottwald, who came into the day tied for the lead with Dumas and Tom Wood, shot a 76 to finish at 5 over. Wood, who carded an 80, finished third at 9 over. Bill Argus shot a 79 and tied for fourth at 10 over with Dave Ward, who had a 75.
Senior City Championship
At Orchard Ridge Country Club
Par: 71 Yardage: 6,500
Dave Dumas 71-71–142 (E)
Brian Gottwald 71-76–147 (+5)
Tom Wood 71-80–151 (+9)
Bill Argus 73-79–152 (+10)
Dave Ward 77-75–152 (+10)
John Wray 74-79–153 (+11)
Matt Schmidt 77-76–153 (+11)
Win Fisher 76-77–153 (+11)